Female image broken in show

If your boyfriend isn’t comfortable discussing the female anatomy in a roomful of strangers, then watch out, ladies – he’s not worth his salt.

At least not according to Hannah Geyer, producer of the 2006 BGSU Vagina Monologues, which debuts tonight at 8 p.m. in the Union ballroom.

Geyer said the cast of this year’s Vagina Monologues – which will repeat the performance on Friday night and Sunday afternoon – not only welcomes men to the show, but expects them to take interest in the topics it touches upon.

“I feel like, if you can’t take your boyfriend to this show, then why are you with him?” Geyer said.

During the show, each member of the all-female cast performs one of dozens of monologues compiled by author Eve Ensler, who interviewed 200 women about their feelings on issues ranging from sex and relationships to sexual abuse and domestic violence. From those interviews, Ensler composed the script for the Vagina Monologues, which debuted off-Broadway in 1996 and has since been performed in small theaters and on college campuses across the country.

For the past three years, the Organization for Women’s Issues has sponsored and funded the annual production of the Vagina Monologues. Ensler allows groups to use her script for free – as long as all money earned from performances is donated to foundations that aid women.

This year OWI will donate proceeds to the Cocoon women’s shelter and the SAAFE program, which provides free counseling for victims of sexual assault and violence.

According to Vagina Monologues director Luce Tomlin-Brenner, who was also involved with last year’s production, sometimes the subject matter startles the audience – male or female.

“It’s controversial because we’re saying words like ‘cunt’ in a big room,” Tomlin-Brenner said. “It’s kind of bringing vulgarity to light.”

But Geyer said the sensitive reaction many people have to such words may cause them to have a misunderstanding of what the show is all about.

“The misconception is that it’s a very liberal show,” Geyer said. “And we are liberal in what we talk about, but it’s not politically liberal. And it isn’t that it’s vulgar. It’s just covers things that all women deal with.”

When Geyer and Tomlin-Brenner began auditions for the performance last October, they had a few goals in mind – all of which have been met. One was to have all cast members memorize their monologues instead of reading them off of paper.

Another was to have the entire cast and crew, from the performers to the ticket takers, be female.

Finally, they wanted to select a cast of performers who were interested in the “activist” aspect of the show.

“This show is really an activist statement,” Tomlin-Brenner said. “Not even everyone in the cast has previous theater experience, and that’s fine. It’s not about the actors or theatrics.”

But Geyer said many of the cast members are natural performers, including freshman Shacorrah Crosby, who is performing the monologue “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could.”

Crosby said although she was at first a bit uncomfortable reading her monologue, working with Geyer, Tomlin-Brenner and the rest of the cast gradually put her at ease.

“Their criticism and help and understanding what the show is all about – it’s telling someone else’s story,” Crosby said. “Understanding what the monologue was about helped me get comfortable with the show.”

Crosby said her monologue tells the tale of “a woman from the South who goes through rough things in childhood and then when she’s a teenager, she has a sexual experience that changes her.”

Tomlin-Brenner said some of the monologues in the show, such as “My Angry Vagina,” which delves into the trials and tribulations of a woman’s menstrual cycle, are funny and lighthearted. Others, she said, showcase women in “war-torn areas where their sexuality is affected by being somewhere where they can’t express it.”

Tomlin-Brenner said the show offers something for everyone – even those who have already seen a production of the Vagina Monologues.

“It’s different every time you see it because it will be funny in a different way, or sad in a different way, or introspective in a different way,” Tomlin-Brenner said.Geyer agreed.

“Every person puts a different spin on each monologue,” she said. “And even if it was the exact same show, people should still come because it’s for a good cause.”

But Tomlin-Brenner said she hopes the show will continue to attract new viewers with each performance – including tonight’s.

“I really want to reach the people who think it’s really liberal or that it’s not their thing,” she said. “I’d like for people to say, man, I’d like to get involved with either the play or with some of these organizations, because I know my life has been altered by it.”