Difficult Role

The stage inside the Zelazo Center is dark. There are about twenty women on the stage of all different shapes, races, and ages.  Slowly, one-bye-one, a spotlight shines on each woman while she describes what her vagina would wear.  Some of the descriptions are light and fun, others are dark and morbid. This is the UW-Milwaukee performance of Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues.”

“The Vagina Monologues” is a compilation of interviews with 200 women from across the globe about their vaginas and their good and bad experiences. The stories came from women around the world. The event was to expose the issue of violence against women and girls and show the hardships that many women on foreign soils experience during times of distress.

The show consisted of a variety of monologues that ranged across every emotion in the spectrum.  Some of the stories were quite dark, while others were light and whimsical. Gemma Fitzsimmons, a 22-year-old UWM Theater student and prior performer, said she played the woman who liked to make vaginas happy.

“It was possibly the most embarrassing role I’ve ever had to do, having to do 20 orgasms on stage in my underwear.” Fitzsimmons said. “It was pretty interesting, but it was the best experience of my life.”

A piece that demonstrates some of the bad experiences is titled, “Women of the Congo.” The story described how different women had experienced vagina manipulation and reconstruction during war in their country.  Many women had been raped, threatened and had their vaginas mutilated and plastic pieces welded into them as a replacement.

The audience was filled with a mixture of students and the general public. The audience was a variety of both men and women. The message and content of the show were appreciated by both genders alike.

Audience members paid to attend this event. UW-Milwaukee students got a reduced fare with their school ID. The proceeds from the tickets sold will go to anti-gender violence groups in Milwaukee and Haiti.

Stuart Hunter, a 23-year-old UWM Art History student, like many others, was a returning audience member.  He believes that the monologues are an important piece for men to view as well as women.

“It sort of highlights things that women deal with day-to-day that, maybe, guys don’t particularly think about.” Hunter said. “For me it brought to life a lot of like, little things, that things that we may say to women and girls that we don’t think is a big deal, but it is actually.”

First time attendee, 20-year-old Marissa Mielke, a UWM Social Work student, was very moved by the performances. She said at the end of the show that she was glad that she attended.

“It was a show about preventing violence against women and empowering women.” Mielke said. “I definitely felt more empowered.”