The Vagina Monologues are back at Tarleton


The JTAC/ Alex Huerta

The ULTRA statue located outside of the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts building.

On Thursday March 25, Tarleton state university’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and International Programs (ODIIP) will host the Vagina Monologues. The doors open for the event at 6:30 p.m. and will start at 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Workshop Theater in the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center. The event will also be performed at the Fort Worth campus on Friday March 26 at 7 p.m. in room 121 of the main building.

Created in 1996 by Eve Ensler, the Vagina Monologues were originally a collection of stories told by 200 women that she met. The monologues explore taboo topics, such as sex, relationships and violence against women. The Vagina Monologues quickly transformed into a movement to stop violence against women around the world called V-Day.

The Vagina Monologues have racked up their fair share of criticism from groups of all walks of life, such as feminism and right winged groups, but it has been recognized for its importance more than anything else. In 2006 a writer for The New York Times, Charles Isherwood praised the play.

“[The Vagina Monologues are] probably the most important piece of political theater of the last decade,” Isherwood said.

This is why Prairie Parnell, the director of the Vagina Monologues here at Tarleton continues to bring the play back to campus. Ms. Parnell has a long history with the Vagina Monologues. From being in the play herself to directing it later of in graduate school and ultimately bringing the play to Tarleton

“I did the vagina monologues when I was an undergrad when the play was new, and then I directed it when I was a graduate student and continued doing that when I came to Tarleton. So, every year I think how am I going to make this new, how am going to continue to keep this play interesting?” Parnell said.

Keeping the Vagina Monologues interesting for returning audiences isn’t difficult.

The Vagina Monologues are constantly changing due to Ensler’s desire to add stories to the play each year. One of Parnell’s favorite part of the Vagina Monologues is just that, the constant changes being made on the play.

“One of my favorite parts of the play is it’s always changing every year. Not just because we have different people [performing]. Up until this year Eve Ensler would either write a new monologue or put out sort of an activism call to add new pieces to the script locally. So, in the past we’ve had students write about sexual assault at work, about intimate partner violence on campus and tell their stories or have an actor tell their stories for them,” Parnell said.

Although the play can be considered quite vulgar in its message and vocabulary, the positive impact outweighs the initial feeling of discomfort you might have when you first watch it. Parnell explains how even with such high rates of rape, domestic violence and child abuse, people affected by these crimes have a hard time opening up about their trauma.

“No one ever talks about vaginas. They’re considered taboo yet we as an American community have a very high rape statistic rate, domestic partner violence rate, child physical and sexual abuse rate. We have reports of women who’ve seen the shows that say they feel better about themselves and feel stronger knowing there are others like them out there,” Parnell said.

The more Tarleton put on the Vagina Monologues the stigma over femininity, womanhood and the negatives that often come along with being a woman lessen. Parnell said that before COVID-19 hit, the campus community was opening up a lot more to the play.

“It’s been a little bit of a struggle at Tarleton over the years. Every year the posters with the word vagina get taken down and in the very beginning [of the Vagina Monologues start at Tarleton] certain members of administration shot us down because they thought the word vagina was vulgar,” Parnell said.

Improvement is inevitable and Parnell says she’s already seeing it on camps.

“There is definitely an improvement in how the campus see the Vagina Monologues Our fundraising has increased, our attendance has increased and the posters don’t get taken down as often as they used too,” Parnell said.

In the past, the Vagina Monologues required royalties so that the money could be donated to a local woman’s organization.

In Stephenville the donations go to the Cross Timbers Family Services. It is estimated that the play has raised 5,000 dollars for Cross Timbers. This year Ensler decided to end free access to the Vagina Monologues and instead commissioned the Black Playwright to create a new piece. This decision led to ODIIP purchasing the rights to the play.

“So, I went and met with the Tiburcio Lince at ODIIP and we talked about whether or not Tarleton was done with the vagina monologues or if It was something we still needed to keep doing. We decided that they were, so the ODIIP purchased the rights to the play so we could continue to perform it,” Parnell said.

Because of this decision, Tarleton students have the ability to watch the play for free for many years to come. If you’d like more information on the Vagina Monologues, you can check out TexanSync or follow Tarleton’s ODIIP on Instagram @tarletondiversity.