Premiere of ‘The Vagappalachialogues’ to take place Saturday, Feb. 15

The  Women’s Studies program will present The Vagappalachialogues, an original work inspired by Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15, in Marco’s in the Memorial Student Center.

“This new production speaks to the experience of people in our own area,” said Dr. Laura Michele Diener, assistant professor of history at Marshall and one of the 11 writers represented in the work. The 90-minute production includes original monologues, stories and poems about sexuality and identity.

Why the funny title?  “While Eve Ensler examines femininity and sexuality in a global context, the Appalachian women and men at Marshall have demonstrated how rich the material is rooted right in home soil,” Diener said.  “We wanted something that described what the project was – stories of sexuality and identity born of the experience of West Virginians.”

After two years of producing The Vagina Monologues together, Diener and co-editor Liz Deal said they realized that, as important as it is to know and share the experience of women around the world, women and men fight their own wars here:  to be heard, to be understood, to grow up without being abused, to overcome the effects of violence and to celebrate who they are.

“Society seems to give us a limited forum and a limited vocabulary for expressing our sexuality,” said Deal, who in addition to directing the show contributed several pieces to the performance. “I have been inspired by the courage of other women in telling their stories and I have found it empowering to be given a place to tell my own.  I hope to encourage people to find their own voices and their own forum for speaking up, speaking out and healing.”

The monologues, essays, stories and poems were written by Marshall faculty members, students, former students and members of the local community.  Many of them originated as class assignments.  The fourteen monologues tackle a range of human emotions; some are poignant, others tragic, and many funny and romantic.  Several pieces, such as “Lament of the Coal Goddess,” “An Appalachian Fairy Tale,” and “Gender Queer Hillbilly” are rooted in the culture and environment of West Virginia.  Embedded in the text is a memoir trilogy on the insidious power of sexual abuse.  The actors are all members of the Marshall community.

Admission is $5 and all ticket sales will benefit the Hovah Hall Underwood Children’s Home in Ona.