For our activist project, we directed and performed in WILL’s production of The Vagina Monologues. This project was very important to us because we both are invested in creating a culture that isn’t afraid of the word ‘vagina’. For some reason in popular culture, the vagina is terrifying. No one likes to say the word. As one of the monologues says, “it sounds like an infectious disease.” We wanted to be part of a movement that not only raised funds for Power Inside, an organization dedicated to protecting women and girls against violence, but one that empowered people to love their own vaginas despite what society might be telling them is wrong with their body. Since the show sold out for the first time and we had a packed house, we think we accomplished getting our message out there: we need to talk about vaginas. We think most importantly, however, the true sign of success is in the empowerment of the performers and audience members. We think we did accomplish that since we both felt more autonomous and confident after the show – and it seemed like the performers did too. Smiles all around.
We, Caitie and Kat, worked really well together in our partnership. We kept an open line of communication between us as well as with our performers throughout the six weeks leading up to the live performance. We made sure to answer all emails as efficiently as possible and clear up all of our performers’ concerns. We also coordinated for FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture to come to the event to provide information on self-care and sexual assault for audience members and performers. Many people filled out quilt squares to be displayed in FORCE’s larger quilt, The Monument Quilt, which demands a public space for healing. We thought FORCE was a great addition to a night dedicated to support and self-love.
Auditions didn’t run as smoothly as they could have. We had four people show up for our auditions and so we decided to invite potential performers to send in video auditions. Unfortunately, many of our performers sent us the videos late. This made organizing the event and casting monologues very hard. As soon as we thought we had it set up, we would get another email and since we didn’t want to exclude anyone from participating, we would have to apologize to the performers who had come to the original casting time and delay our announcements once again. Rehearsals also had some kinks. Not everyone was able to show up on time, and it was difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules.
If we were to do it again next time, we would try to publicize auditions more. We ran into some struggles getting people involved and would try to invite more people to join next time. We tried reaching out to QUMBC, but perhaps next time we could team up with a campus club. We also had two people email us relatively late, confused about when auditions were, so we think advertising the casting call more would have been helpful. Additionally, next time we would try to establish a firm time for performers to show up on the day. We had a few trickle in late and perhaps we weren’t clear enough on timing. Finally, we would include more seats in the performance space next time. Many people were turned away at the door because the show was sold out and there was enough space available for them if we had had enough seats, which was disappointing.
We learned a lot about activism. Before embarking on this journey and reading Grassroots, we thought about activism as a more radical concept involving chaining yourself to trees. Since taking on this project, we have come to learn that activism can be any time you’re spreading ideas about something you are passionate about. We’ve come to learn that we’ve been activists for quite some time, even if we didn’t recognize our actions as activism. We’re excited about future opportunities for activism.