Students and staff of Southampton University came together on Monday night to create a theatrical showcase in a packed-out SUSU cinema. The collaborative event put together by VP Welfare and Communities Frankie Fry, Equality and Diversity Officer Chloe Green and Feminist Society President Rhiannon Frame-Jones featured many actresses, including university registrar Tessa Harrison and members of the SUSU Theatre Group.
The name of the event proved to be particularly apt – as well as celebrating International Women’s Day with some excellent performances, there were abundant references to female body parts “down there”. Although a programme may have helped audience members to identify and navigate the changing pieces more easily, the evening was clearly segmented into a wide variety of acts. Pieces ranged from composed letters to future daughters, Sophocles and one musical number. The bulk of the evening, however, was devoted to short pieces from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, a piece which Chloe Green described to me as her ‘favourite play’.
Whilst some of the pieces were slightly awkward for some audience members (‘Reclaiming C***’ in particular, perhaps!) reactions were on the whole incredibly positive with spectators clapping, laughing and gasping in all of the right places. When asked if the evening’s aim was empowerment, Rhiannon Frame-Jones commented that although the evening may have empowered some women the main goal was ‘education… getting ideas out there and starting a dialogue’. In as far as people were audibly discussing the performance on their way out of The Cube, this aspect of the evening can certainly be called a success.
The three women behind the show were all incredibly happy with the results of the evening in spite of the challenge of uniting around ten different sets of rehearsals. Frankie Fry noted that she was particularly happy with the turnout as ticket sales in the run-up to the event had not been as high as anticipated. Rhiannon added that she was really proud of all that had taken part in making the evening a success.
If repeated next year, I am certain that it would draw an equally large, appreciative and, at times, squirming crowd.
Events for International Women’s Week continue until Friday. For more details, check the week’s programme here.