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“The Vagina Monologues,” sponsored biennially by Harvard’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response (OSAPR), sets out to unabashedly discuss the taboo issues facing women in a more connected, communal way than years past. “It’s a chance to have a lot of conversations that aren’t really being had,” director Alyssa R. Leader ’15 says. The show seeks to break the fourth wall and instead creates an interactive space.
Producer Zoe A. Bergstrom ’15 agrees. “We didn’t want it to be overly theatrical,” she says. “We want the audience to feel comfortable talking about the issues in the show.”
“It’s going to be a much more intimate production of “The Vagina Monologues” than it was two years ago at Harvard,” actress Brenna K. McDuffie ’15 says. In an attempt to facilitate this intimacy, the production team chose to move the show from the Agassiz Theater to the much smaller Loeb Ex. However, when it came to shaping this theatrical space, they took it a step further. Couches and cushions, among other things, are made available to the audience in order to recreate an intimate conversation rather than the one-sided experience of viewing a play.
Before audiences enter into this conversation, cast and crew ask audiences to leave their expectations at the door.
“Everyone has some idea of what it’s going to be,” Bergstrom says. “If they’ll just sit down and experience it without trying to make it into whatever their preexisting notions are, I think they’ll get a really diverse depiction of all the social issues and all the human experiences that are in the show.”
While the issues that the play covers range from orgasms to sexual abuse, cast member Gita Bhattacharya ’16 stresses that the show addresses much more than sexual issues. “The message of sexual empowerment is a metaphor for other forms of empowerment, like being who you are,” Bhattacharya says.
With this message of empowerment in mind, Leaders notes that the group hopes to appeal to a wide audience. “That’s the beauty of it being a series of monologues. There’s something for everybody.”
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