Students offer fifth annual 'Vagina Monologues'

Olga Osadchaya, a Bates College senior, directs the college’s fifth annual production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues in 8 p.m. performances Friday, Feb. 11, and Sunday, Feb. 13, in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, 75 Russell St., Lewiston.

The performances will also be shown live via closed circuit in the Keck Classroom (G52), Pettengill Hall, Andrews Road. Admission costs $3 for Olin seating and $1 for Keck.Each year proceeds from the production support initiatives working to eliminate violence against women and girls. Advance tickets will be sold from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, Feb. 7-9, in Chase Hall, 56 Campus Ave. Tickets will be sold at the door at Olin on performance nights starting at 7 p.m. For more information, please call 207-786-6135.

The show is sponsored by the Robinson Players, a student theater organization at Bates.

Eve Ensler is an award-winning playwright, poet, activist and screenwriter. For The Vagina Monologues, she asked a diverse group of women about their thoughts and feelings regarding this part of their bodies. The play Ensler created from these interviews relates women’s stories in terms that are personal yet universal, comic and poignant, brazen and mysterious.

“I remember attending the show my first year at Bates, having never heard of it before,” says Osadchaya, of Moscow, Russia. “What had the greatest impact on me was that it took people on a two-hour tour of every emotion. The audience’s reaction changed from embarrassment, outrage and utter shock to complete enjoyment of the show’s seductive candidness.”

“It’s this transformation, on an individual level, that’s the first and the most crucial step towards raising the bar of respect, creating a safer society and ending violence towards women and girls,” she says. “Ever since then, I’ve been involved in the productions directly, for the past two years as an actress, and finally as a director.”

Osadchaya explains that this year, with the international organization V-Day as intermediary, part of the proceeds will go towards The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq. Founded in 2003, this is the only national women’s organization in Iraq advocating for a secular society based on democracy and respect for human rights in accordance with international standards.

“The rest of the money will go towards local grassroots organizations committed to stopping violence towards women and girls,” Osadchaya says.

A neuroscience major studying the relationship between schizophrenia and memory, Osadchaya has been active in theater at Bates. In addition to previous Vagina Monologues, she performed in the 2002 production of Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and directed a Chekhov play for a Bates-Colby one-act play festival in 2003.

Since its Obie-winning premiere, in 1996, Ensler’s play has been performed to broad acclaim worldwide. Productions have featured such top actors as Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Marisa Tomei, Rosie Perez, Lily Tomlin, Kate Winslett, Melanie Griffith and Calista Flockhart.

This time around at Bates, students (including Osadchaya) will perform all the monologues. The play stirs “undying enthusiasm in everyone associated with the production,” says the director. “That’s what keeps the energy going despite everybody’s intensive academic schedules.”

But, she says, “what finally pulls the show together is the audience. The full house and applause make it all worthwhile, as we realize that we’ve touched every audience member, and thereby contributed to the unstoppable campaign to end violence against women and girls.”

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