Snapshots of Brown: Performance at the Avon Cinema

IMG_2181Welcome to Snapshots of Brown, your destination for pics of Brown all year long! I’m Celina Stewart, and I’ll be bringing you little photo insights into my third year on Brown’s campus. What’s up this week? Let’s take a look… 

I was a theater kid in high school- never the lead in the show, but always in the supporting cast, step-touching to my heart’s content (I was there to sing, mostly). When I arrived at Brown, I thought for sure that I would be into the performance scene- as someone who spent every weekend performing through speech and debate, theater, Thespian Society, or chorus, performing seemed a huge part of my identity.

While Brown does have a huge variety of performing groups, my only performance outlet is Brown’s Chorus. However, this doesn’t mean that I haven’t stayed involved. In the past, I’ve attended performances by Brown Opera Productions, Brown’s Gilbert and Sullivan group, and of course, plenty of a cappella groups. However, it isn’t often that I’ve been able to attend another school’s production. When some friends asked if I wanted to see the Vagina Monologues, put on by Providence College students at the Avon Cinema on Thayer Street, I eagerly agreed. So, how was it?

First, I didn’t realize how controversial the Vagina Monologues is, as a performance piece. Maybe that’s because I’d always heard about it in a positive context (I have a friend at Connecticut College in New London who performed it last year, and have read several teen fiction novels where the main characters’ mothers are endearingly but embarrassingly involved in productions). However, it turns out that the students of Providence College have been banned from performing the piece on campus for the past 10 years, which is why they brought it up the Hill to Thayer Street.

Secondly, the piece itself is both hilarious and touching, sentimental and disturbing. As I’ve been exposed to feminist literature and discourse both inside and outside the classroom (that sounds pretentious, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a Brown student who hasn’t touched on feminist issues in a humanities course), the material wasn’t new to me. I am aware that the word ‘vagina’ makes people uncomfortable, and that issues of domestic violence are tragically underreported and eternally present in every society. While some of these monologues do not represent my lived experience, and some seem slightly outdated, I feel that getting on stage and speaking the words gives agency to the issues included in the play, which is the biggest step of all.

The best part of the entire thing? The performance donated nearly all of its proceeds to a Domestic Violence charity, V-Day. Overall, the show was fun- everyone was dressed to impress, and it created a clearly safe space for all members of the Providence community, regardless of gender or sexuality. While I’ve become somewhat accustomed to such spaces at Brown, it is great to see students at a college that has banned the performance of a women’s issue piece taking a stand and making sure that the show goes on, regardless of school approval or funding.

Check out V-Day online for more information about their charity and the work they’ve been doing to benefit women.

Want more snapshots and FAQ updates? Check out @thebruinclub on Twitter! Have questions or comments for me? Want more details? Send an email to celina_stewart@brown.edu and I’ll get back ASAP!

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