“Voices” emphasizes inclusivity, storytelling

by Kira Witkin | 2/11/14 6:18pm

by Tracy Wang / The Dartmouth

Addressing criticisms that the Vagina Monologues do not speak to some women’s experiences, V-February organizers added “Voices: An Original Production” to this year’s lineup in an attempt to make the programming more inclusive. The performance will showcase personal stories of self-identified women at Dartmouth through original monologues, poems and stream of consciousness recitations.

The “V” in the College’s 16th annual V-February stands for “voices.” In previous years, event organizers have used the themes of victory, violence and vaginas for the program.

“Voices: An Original Production” was added to provide a more inclusive outlet for those interested, co-director Sandi Caalim ’13 said.

“It’s about self-identified women, genderqueer, genderfluid people of the Dartmouth community sharing a piece of their story,” she said. “We haven’t had anything similar to that on a wide-scale production.”

Caalim said that the production will give performers the opportunity to empower their peers.

“One of the parts of our mission for V-Month and what ‘Voices’ is trying to do is to encourage people to speak, to show that every voice matters,” Caalim said. “There are so many people here whose voices have been marginalized. No one should feel like they’re being shut out.”

Michelle Hector, assistant director for the Center for Gender and Student Engagement, said “Voices: An Original Production” will emphasize the importance of storytelling.

Annie Gardner ’15 will read “Casual,” an original monologue, which another student performed in last year’s Vagina Monologues production. She said performing her own piece will allow deeper reflection about the College’s casual hookup culture.

“My monologue kind of was me coming to terms with what it meant, a casual hookup,” she said. “I was trying to connect the idea of intimacy and casual sex, to see how the two of them fit together.”

The directors will lead a discussion after the show. Jessica King Fredel ’17, who is co-directing the show alongside Caalim and Semarley Jarrett ’14, said that having a post-show production emphasizes the community that the directors are trying to foster and allows the audience to immediately respond to the show.

The public response to recent threatening Bored at Baker posts, which included a gathering on the Green on Monday, may make community members more receptive to the production, King Fredel said.

“I think the community is realizing how important it is for these voices to be heard,” she said. “The Bored at Baker posts are a concrete example of some of the ways women are oppressed at Dartmouth, and I think the show stands as a response to that oppression. I think there’s something significant in the stark contrast between anonymous posts on the Internet about rape and these women getting up on stage to share their stories and experiences.”

The free performance will take place in Spaulding Auditorium at 7 p.m. tonight.