Producers will try to fit person to part in 'Vagina Monologues'These people are our leaders of tomorrow?
Protests about unrepresented women in last year's play led to a reworking of the casting process
News Freelance Editor
December 01, 2004
The ASUO Women's Center is reworking the casting process for this year's production of "The Vagina Monologues" in response to protests that last year's production underrepresented various communities of women.
Instead of holding auditions, the producers will solicit nominations from several student groups, as well as the Women's and Gender Studies Program, to assemble a potential cast. The final casting decision will be made by a volunteer selection committee.
"The queer community, the women of color community and the plus-size community did not feel represented last year," producer Nicole Pete said.
In addition to securing a more diverse cast, the selection committee will also be looking to include activists and community members who are involved with women's issues.
Pete said the committee will select people who are "not necessarily drama-oriented" in favor of "people who work (toward) 'The Vagina Monologues' mission of ending violence against women."
Women's Center spokeswoman Stefanie Loh said the de-emphasis on acting ability will provide a "down to earth" feel to the production as well as allow the producers to be more inclusive in their casting.
"The fact that they had auditions means that some people are automatically excluded," she said.
The primary concern of the selection committee will be "fitting the person to the part," Pete said, adding that all parts in the script calling for women of color will be played by women of color.
"That was one of the big concerns last year was that a white woman portrayed a woman of color," Pete said.
It will be more difficult to ensure that women who identify with the queer community participate in the production.
"That's where it gets kind of tricky," Pete said. "I don't think we can legally ask anyone what their sexual orientation is."
Instead, the producers will inform a potential actor that a particular part is a "queer role" and ask, "Do you feel that this represents you?"
About 10 people showed up at a Friday performance of "Monologues" in February with duct tape across their lips, wearing shirts with hand-written messages and passing out flyers protesting the performance.
"The biggest problem people had last year was not the production itself, but how the production was handled," Pete said.
In a post-production discussion group, participants discussed ways the production could have been done differently.
"We thought about not doing it again," Pete said.
The decision to perform the play again this year was made in the context of a larger change in direction at the Women's Center.
"Last year we got a rep for being white-centric, and people didn't feel involved," Loh said.
When Erin O'Brien took over as the new director of the Women's Center at the beginning of the 2004-05 academic year, the center set about to reform its image, Loh said.
"We knew that if we did it again this year, we'd have to change it," Pete said.
The final nominations for cast members are due Dec. 10. The cast will be announced at the beginning of winter term.