“The Vagina Monologues” empowers women after 15 years of productions


The cast of "The Vagina Monologues" gets together to celebrate the 15th annual production.

Vu Chau

More than 1,400 people filled the University Union Ballroom to watch Sacramento State’s 15th annual production of “The Vagina Monologues” on Thursday, Feb. 18.

The Vagina Monologues is a 1996 play written by American playwright, feminist and activist Eve Ensler to celebrate the power of women throughout the world.

This year’s production is co-directed by Jenna Wright, residence life coordinator for Draper Hall and Melissa Muganzo, leasing and marketing manager at the Upper Eastside Lofts.

Before starting, Muganzo and Wright presented the first-ever “Vagina Warrior Award” to Jessica Heskin, violence and sexual assault support services coordinator at Sac State and former producer of The Vagina Monologues productions for 14 years.

“I don’t know why they gave me an award because they did fine without me,” Heskin said. “A lot of people thought that without me they wouldn’t be able to do it, but they did perfect. They don’t need me at all. They were wonderful.”

According to Heskin, the first production of the play in 2002 was very controversial.

“There were protests on campus, and [Donald R. Gerth, then president of Sac State] got phone calls,” Heskin said. “It was very controversial back then because we said the word “vagina” on the posters and people felt that was obscene.”

President Gerth stood up for the campus’ first production and allowed the show to continue.

“We thought nobody was going to show up at that first show,” Heskin said. “Since then, we have been sold out anywhere between 1,100 and 1,300 seats every year for 14 years.”

Thursday night’s show began with a brand new Beyoncé-inspired introduction co-directed by Muganzo and Wright.

“I’m a Beyoncé enthusiast,” said Muganzo. “Beyoncé is all about equality of the sexes, equality of pay, and ‘The Vagina Monologues’ is all about enforcing that women do deserve rights, women deserve equal pay [and] women are just as valuable as men.”

The show features 36 “female-identified” students, alumni, and faculty. Each actress delivered a solo, duo, or group monologue.Each monologue was inspired by real-life accounts of women who Ensler interviewed before began writing the play that pays honor to the idea of female empowerment.

In addition to their roles of co-directors, Muganzo and Wright also performed in the show. The two danced with the entire cast in the introduction that made the crowd scream with excitement.

Later on, Muganzo also acted in a crowd-pleasing solo monologue about reclaiming a derogatory term to liberate it into an empowering word for all women.

Aja C. Holmes, senior associate director of Residential Life and fellow “Vagina sister,” said she has been performing the same monologue for every production she was in.

“I’ve only been in “The Flood,” Holmes said. “One of the things is that this is sometimes much of a student-run show and I like to see faculty and staff members really supporting our students by getting involved.”

The biggest applauses of the night were given to sophomore government and African studies major Dejamarie Crozier and her monologue, “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy.”

Initially, Crozier auditioned for a different monologue, but after seeing her energy on stage, Muganzo decided to give Crozier the role Muganzo herself played in the last production.

For Crozier, the pressure of seeing people she knows in the audience watching her perform did not seem to exist.

“It’s actually kind of nice seeing my mother and my boyfriend sitting there seeing me,” Crozier said. “I practiced in front of my mom all the time. At first, she didn’t want to hear it but after that she just have to listen to it.”

“When you’re listening to your 20-year-old daughter walking around the house moaning, you’re like ‘oh my god,’” said Crozier’s mother, Melanie Caligiuri. “But she did it, and I always encourage her to do everything and anything that her heart dreams.”

The majority of the audience said that their favorite monologue of the night was “My Angry Vagina.”

“It’s always the [My Angry Vagina],” said Jazmin Campos, freshman higher education and leadership graduate. “It says everything I’ve ever wanted to say about tampons specifically.”

After seeing the show, Campos and her friends are considering auditioning for the next production.

“This is my second time coming to the show and it is always super empowering every time you come,” Campos said. “You have fellow women in the audience. You have allies and men that attend and just supports from campus organizations so I just think it’s great.”

Regarding whether Muganzo will return to direct the show again next year, she said she is unsure.

“I am nothing without my co-director Jenna [Wright]” Muganzo said. “Jenna has been my backbone this entire production. She’s awesome.”