2.21.2009

The Always Be Prepared

The week of Valentine’s I was in the TTU production of the Vagina Monologues. Now this is a play that I was well familiar with. I played the receptionist and did some introductory pieces as well—but no out and out monologue pieces so to speak. What was different with this production, the sixth one at TTU, is that this time, there were protesters. I would’ve expected there to be protesters the first time around, but the sixth? My massive ego just assumed it was because this was the first time I was actually in the play.

I didn’t have to walk through the protesters. The first night there were close to 30. The second and third nights, just a handful. On the final night, supporters of the play came with their own signs. From what I heard, even the protesters were not in agreement.

The two things I found most intriguing are the following. The first, and I fall in this category; the cast members completely supported the protesters right to protest. They were all about the right to stand up for what you believe in. When you think about what’s going on in the world, and you think about what it’s like to live in other countries where freedom of expression just doesn’t happen without dire consequences. Protesters turn out to be a marvelous thing.

The other intriguing but not so surprising thing is, with, I believe, one exception, the protesters had not read or seen the play. And that is my bone of contention with any protest or complaint, whether it is about a play, movie, book, or work of art. If you have not experienced it first, then how did it offend you? I find many of ABC’s comedies extremely offensive because they are poorly written. However, I don’t care enough to protest. I simply don’t watch them again.

I applaud that you are giving up your evening to accost strangers and even hurl profanities at cast members. OK, I don’t applaud that. But you’ve made the time to spend an hour and a half in the cold while people are waiting to see a play. A play that in many cases features their friends, their daughters, their co-workers. And you want to discourage those in line from seeing it. That’s cool and all. I just think that whenever you’re protesting anything, you shouldn’t be sheep. Don’t do it because some guy told you to. Find out for yourself if it’s so very wrong that you feel compelled to take a stand. Whatever it may be.

That goes for haters of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, and Of Mice and Men, Robert Mapplethorpe’s art, Tarantino films and Madonna videos. Experience it first. Decide for yourself. Then, I totally and wholeheartedly support your protest. I just like people to know what they’re complaining about, that’s all. That’s what I want to take a stand about.
As to the success of this production of the Vagina Monologues? It sold out every night. People were turned away. They lined up an hour and a half before show time just to try and get in the door. And no one got out of line because of the protesters. There’s always discussion after the play. Many people were moved to tears by the emotional impact of some of the serious, international monologues. And, because I was onstage during the entire show, I can tell you that the audience laughed during the, shall we say, saltier monologues. Eve Ensler is the author. The play is worth reading. I know I had a great experience being involved in the production. I also knew what I was getting myself into ahead of time. Which is how I am with most everything I do. I was never a Boy Scout. But I do like to be prepared.