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As a student who has been at Rice for four years, I knew exactly what to expect from The Vagina Monologues — women dressed in red, black and white, a basement and lots of usage of the word “vagina” — and that’s exactly what I got. While at times the show is entertaining, it is essentially the same show I have seen performed in a Rice basement last year, the year before that and the year before that. That was expected — and boring.

The Vagina Monologues is an episodic play written by Eve Ensler. It consists of a variety of monologues, each dealing with a different aspect of the female experience, typically read by a varying number of women. Every year on Valentine’s Day, across the globe, activists unite to perform The Vagina Monologues in order to raise money to benefit female victims of violence and sexual abuse. The proceeds from the Rice show will once again go to the Houston Area Women’s Resource Center.

Given that The Vagina Monologues is a well-established production, it’s hard to expect much of a change year to year, but at times it feels as if none of the direction has budged in the past four year; even most of the faces performing are the same. The venue change, however, is a nice breath of fresh air. With Sid Richardson College’s basement occupied by the Sid musical this year, The Monologues moved to Lovett College’s basement. 

Despite the carry-over in direction, there are a few new faces that bring fresh perspective to old monologues. Graduate student Lynn Fahey’s performance of “Hair” is conversational, sassy and funny, unlike past years’ somber performances. McMurtry College junior Helen Hoover also wows with her rendition of “The Vagina Workshop,” layering braininess and silliness. 

However, more monologues seem to fall flat rather than shine. Some lines just don’t hit the right note; some monologues feel rushed while others drag on and some actresses seem not to connect with their pieces at all. It’s also hard not to compare renditions to previous years’, especially since much of the delivery and direction seem so similar. I still assert that I have not seen a rendition of “My Vagina Was My Village” better than that performed by Duncan College senior Clara Roberts in 2012.

At the same time, I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of three new monologues this year. Jones College sophomore Zoe Matranga and Hanszen College sophomore Olivia Hsia fabulously take on “They Beat the Girl out of my Boy.” For years, The Monologues has been missing a very important aspect of the female narrative — the voice of the transgender community. Matranga and Hsia handle the topic wonderfully and are able to connect not only to the audience, but also to each other. “My Short Skirt” and “My Revolution Begins in the Body” are also two new additions to the lineup of monologues.

Despite its flaws, this year’s production of The Vagina Monologues succeeds in provoking thoughts about sexuality, women and vaginas. It’s a show I think all students should watch, especially if they have not seen it before.