Monologues director discusses removal of cultural taboos

The Lamron sat down with senior Joan Monplaisir to talk about her directing of The Vagina Monologues.

The Lamron: How did you come to direct The Vagina Monologues?

Joan Monplaisir: Danielle Foti, a member of [Womyn's Action Coalition], wasvery interested in me beingthe director. I was very hesitant about it because I had never directed anything. I've been in the play twice but its different being an actress and being a director. There's a lot more responsibility in it. She approached me many times and, finally, I gave in and went to theinterview. I think they interviewed about four or five other women, and I eventually got the part.

The Lamron: Why do think this play is something that should be repeated on campus every year?

JM: Well, the word "vagina" is so taboo to many people, and it really doesn't need to be. It's part of the human body, it's part of a woman, it's the part of the woman that gives life. The play also talks about women's rights and issues pertaining to women like rape and self-esteem. So it's very important for each of the new members of the school to see the play.

The Lamron: What effect do you think the play had on the audience and on the campus in general?

JM: I think it was received well. We had 120 seats, and they sold out very quickly so I decided to add in 30 extra. People were pounding on the door. The doors opened at 7:30 p.m. and people were standing out there at like6 p.m. The audience loved it. They were laughing, they were really into the very emotional and sensitive pieces. And that's exactly what I wanted.

The Lamron: In terms of being a director, what were some of your goals or challenges in bringingThethis to the people you want to see it?

JM: My goal this time was to make it a really ethnically diverse cast. Lots of times, in the theater department, there's not as many minorities as I would like to see in productions so I really wanted a very diverse cast. We had African-Americans, Latinos, an Egyptian woman. We had music from different parts of the world, and some of the themes in the show were very international too.

The Lamron: How did you feel about splitting up what was orginnaly a one-person show?

JM: It's up to the director what she wants to do with the play. I've always seen it split up so I was more comfortable splitting it up. I didn't want to try something too different. It was a great idea to split it up because, like I said, I wanted an ethnically diverse cast. I got tomeet a lot of young women, got to experience different personalities, different acting styles. A lot of the cast members were freshmen who were newbies in theater.

The Lamron: Have you encountered people who say this shouldn't be done or that this is more of a taboo issue than the play presents?

JM: No one has outright said that to me. I've seen people, when we were selling tickets, kind of give us looks and laugh at us because we were saying "vagina." I'm like, "Get over it, grow up. This is an importantissue." I saw a lot of women giving us looks, and that was really disheartening. "You're a woman. We're talking about women's rights. It should be close to your heart as well as mine." No has said, "Youshouldn't be doing this." If they say it, I don't care. I'm still doing it anyway.

The Lamron: Why would the play be something that interests men as well as women?

JM: I feel like you don't have to be a woman to be a feminist. A man caring about women's issues and equality for women all is just as great as a woman caring about those things. It's just the greatest thing to come and show support, to come and see the show.

The Lamron: Do you think WAC's sponsorship of the event put a label on the play and its audience?

JM: From what I've seen, it hasn't. Like I said, people were knocking downthe door trying to get in. I feel like WAC's name on it is better for the play.

The Lamron: Where do you see the future of The Vagina Monologues on campus? Do youthink its something that's going to return every year?

JM: I hope so. And I hope there's a lot more diversity in the cast. I'd like to see some sign language in there or some people with different abilities. I'd love to see every type of person in the play, just a wide range of actresses.