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Monday, January 16, 2006

The Vagina Monologues: The Monologue at Last

Please see The Oriental Vagina post for the background on this post. The holidays was spent consciously and rather blissfully ignorant of the monologue to come. After being cast as the "Comfort Woman" vagina in the Vagina Monologues, I was told by the Director to wait until the V-Day organization sent her a copy of my monologue, which was still being written. That was a month ago. I had my back-from-the-holidays rehearsal this past Wednesday, and still no word about the monologue. As I waited around outside the rehearsal room and the rest of the cast trickled in, I couldn't help but feel a little left out as the rest of the crew cackled and gossiped about how behind they were in memorizing their lines. The show is only a month away and, racial issues aside, I was starting to feel the pressure of simply having less time than everyone else to work out what would come to be a fairly difficult piece. The Director arrived and tried to assuage my concerns. She smiled comfortingly and promised to harrass the V-Day organization until the monologue was delivered to her hands. Thursday's rehearsal was spent working through the first monologue of the show, a group piece that introduces the various names that are used as euphemisms and slang fo the vagina. In it, I was given the following lines to deliver:

A young, high-powered businesswoman was interviewed, and she said she didn't have the time. She was too busy. Looking at your vagina, she said, is a full day's work. You have to get down there on your back in front of a mirror that's standing on its own, full-length preferred. You have to get into the perfect position with the perfect lighting -- which is then shadowed by the mirror and the position you're in. You get all twisted up. You're arching your head up, killing your back. By then you're exhausted. She didn't have time for all that. She was too busy.
I think I may be trying to play that up for comedic effect. It might involve some good-natured miming? We'll have to see... On Thursday, our second rehearsal of the new year, I got some good news; I got the monologue at last. The monologue is structured sort of like a poem or a series of lists. It's very staccato and I'm told powerful when you hear it (or at least it seemed, since I managed to reduce the director and assistant director to tears when I just read it out loud). It seems a little difficult to deliver since there are a few instances in which everything is more "list"-y than monologue-y. It's called "Say It". Here's the first little bit:
Our stories only exist inside our heads Inside our ravaged bodies Inside a time and space of war And emptiness There is no paper trail Nothing official on the books Only conscience Only this What we were promised: That I would save my father if I went with them That I would find a job That I would serve the country That they would kill me if I didn't go That it was better there What we found: No mountains No trees No watter Yellow sand A desert A warehouse full of tears Thousands of worried girls My braid cut against my will No time to wear panties <-- the single worst line in the monologue What we were forced to do: Change our names Wear one piece dresses with A button that opened easily 50 Japanese soldiers a day Sometimes there would be a ship of them Strange barbaric things Do it even when we bleed Do it young before we start bleeding There were so many Some wouldn't take off their clothes Just took out their penis So many men I couldn't walk I couldn't stretch my legs I couldn't bend I couldn't.
The full monologue is about three pages long; that's about the first page. I think this piece will be challenging, and I am somewhat happy that the monologue treats the issue with some respect. At the same time, I was cast largely for racial reasons and this monologue only confirms my suspicions. Plus, there's a possibility that I will also be given the other "Asian" line in the Monologues. We'll see what happens later this week.

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