If you’ve seen any oddly shaped lollipops around campus recently, do not shy away. They are exactly what you think.
2015 marks the 10th anniversary of CU Boulder’s production of the Vagina Monologues, a true-to-life collection of experiences written by Eve Ensler about diverse walks of women. This year’s production, directed and produced by CU student Nieve Heskin, moves to raise awareness and funds for Boulder’s MESA chapter.
MESA, or the Movement to End Sexual Assault, is local organization that works to provide preventative education and offer victims assistance. The cast of the Vagina Monologues not only wishes to shed light on the resources available to victims in the Boulder community, but also to make the University of Colorado a more comfortable setting to address these issues.
“On this campus, sexual assault is so prevalent, and there are so many who are uncomfortable with those issues, and women who are uncomfortable with their bodies,” Heskin said. “This show is really huge, in that it brings those conversations to my audience and allows them a space to hash them out.”
The major motivation for choosing MESA as a beneficiary and partner is that sexual assault is commonly hidden in CU’s darker corners.
“We went around and surveyed people, asking how they felt about this issue on CU’s campus. Most said they knew nothing about programs or ad campaigns – no one knew anything.”
One approach toward mediating this type of discourse is to keep the setting as small as possible. Traditionally, the show has been performed in Old Main, and is moving back there after utilizing the Glenn Miller Ballroom in 2014.
“It’s a lot more personal and intimate with the crowd [in Old Main],” Heskin said. “The show is originally supposed to be performed in a small theater, so there are only ten actresses in the show.”
With an intimate setting as a backdrop, the show itself is meant not only to help women identify with each other and appreciate their own experiences, but also to allow men an understanding of the female experience. Having been involved with the show for three years, Heskin has invited a diverse group of friends, both male and female, to watch her perform.
“None of them would have ever wanted to talk about vaginas, or body hair, or strategic sexual assault, but after the show we had opens conversations about it,” she said. “People do walk away from this more comfortable with these terms and these ideas.“
The cast recognizes the uncomfortable effects of the show’s message as well. The most telling example of the show’s direct, personal and provocative content came in the public’s initial response to the cast’s ‘pussy pop’ fundraising effort.
“People have very diverse responses to the word ‘pussy’. Pushing that on a lot of our friends and family made them uncomfortable, but it convinced them that we’re taking this cause seriously. No one should be scared of the word vagina, or made uncomfortable by it.”
In fact, many laughed the subject off, buying lollipops because the money would go toward MESA and its cause. There are also many that react negatively to the Monologues’ messages. The intention, according to Heskin, is to change this, and alleviate the discomfort in the long term by confidently addressing certain terms and topics in the show.
“We’re not trying to offend anyone or be vulgar or in their face,” Heskin said. “It’s a show of conversations and people’s experiences and stories.”
The show runs March 6 and 7, with one 7:30 p.m. show on both nights and a 1:30 p.m. matinee on Saturday. Tickets will be sold at the door; prices are $6 for students and $10 for community members.
Contact CU Independent Managing Editor Jordyn Siemens at Jordyn.Siemens@colorado.edu.