Women of Amherst Perform for Awareness, Charity
By Daniel Diner '14, A&L Section Editor
Last weekend Women of Amherst performed the “Vagina Confessionals,” a production of 33 short monologues about various issues related to the experiences of women. The performances are based on real stories submitted by female members of students, alumni, faculty and staff. These issues ranged from sexual abuse to periods, resulting in monologues that were poignant, comedic and sometimes both.

For the past 13 years, a version of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” has been performed at Amherst, featuring a similar setup to last weekend’s performance, with short pieces based on the real stories that Ensler collected about assorted women’s issues. Ensler had originally intended for her “Monologues” to “raise awareness about issues of domestic and sexual violence towards women.”

In 2004, the show’s producers began including the stories of Amherst women along with those from the official “Vagina Monologues” in order to raise awareness about the existence of these issues at the College. This section of the show was called “Women of Amherst.” As the years progressed, more and more of the show was devoted to “Women of Amherst.” Last year, the members of the cast agreed to turn the entire show into performances based on the stories of Amherst women. Thus the “Vagina Confessionals” was born.

To support this undertaking, students formed the full-year group Women of Amherst. Headed by Staff Advisor Gretchen Krull, President Rebecca Ojserkis ’12 and directors Estefania Colon ’11, Rachel Hamalainen ’11 and Emmy Pierce ’11, the club’s main purpose is to produce the “Vagina Confessionals.” The club chooses the cast from its own members, but they do not turn down any student who expresses interest in performing. Women of Amherst sent requests for stories to Amherst students, staff and alumni, assuring writers that although some edits would be made, they would be light and only for the purpose of time considerations.

According to Colon, it is very important for both Women of Amherst and for the authors of the stories that they “keep the [stories’] integrity and try not to censor anything.”

Women of Amherst donate all proceeds from the show to the New England Learning Center for Women in Transition (NELCWIT), a local women’s shelter and service agency. The revenue comes from the $5 suggested donation that the audience was asked to pay at the door, as well as from a raffle, which featured prizes donated by local stores, organizations and College professors. NELCWIT relies heavily on this donation and includes it in their yearly budget.

Because the group was so small this year, each individual had considerably more work and responsibility than they would have had previously. Members expressed, however, that this was a valuable learning experience.

Women of Amherst is eager to continue their work and invites more women of the College to join the cast.

Issue 21, Submitted 2011-04-06 03:00:25