Theater as a Stage for Social Justice

November 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

One of the seminars I had the distinct pleasure of attending during the 2012 Georgia Tech Women’s Leadership Conference was appropriately named “Theater as a Stage for Social Justice.” This was the last breakout session that I attended, and it was facilitated by Melissa Gerrior, the current Graduate Assistant at the GT Women’s Resource Center. In this seminar, we read excerpts of dramatic monologues with different feminist themes and social undertones.

In the first exercise, everyone was asked to ponder this question: “If your vagina could talk, what would it say?” At first, I was startled. All eyes immediately turned to me, and everyone bursted into a rupturing laughter. I was then instructed to pretend if I had an imaginary vagina.

With this question lingering in the conscious part of our minds, we moved on to reading the first excerpt (Eve Ensler’s “My Angry Vagina”). The first dramatic monologue used brash and abrasive language, but there was a meaning to the usage of profanity. It personified a vagina’s feelings and emotions, and “she” vented on her  frustrations with using certain products and not having a recognizable voice, especially when it comes to the overall welfare and well being of “her”.

The second excerpt we read was about a woman battling anorexia nervosa (“Hunger Blog” -Eve Ensler). It’s a taboo, but important topic that women and men need to discuss. I never knew what the mentality of a person suffering from this disease entailed, and I never quite understood the mental anguish and struggle that anybody suffering from anorexia had to battle and deal with on a day to day basis. I’m glad that I have a better understanding, and now I personally feel that I can help anyone battling this disease.

The next excerpt was about a Barbie doll (“Free Barbie” – Eve Ensler). The character telling the story shared how he/she thinks that Barbie is constantly controlled with no voice, no options, no regards, no sympathy. Barbie’s life consists of doing feminine-oriented tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc., and the author wants everyone to know that Barbie does not want to be confined to the domestic role. Barbie wants to expand her horizons. Barbie wants to make a difference. The author even noted that Barbie likes math. As a society, we consciously and unconsciously place children in different gender roles. We expect them to wear a certain attire, to act a certain way, play with toys that aligns with their social identity or gender. For so long the sexual division of labor has evolved to gender roles that are still enforced today. I promised myself that if I had a child, then I would always let me child know that he/she always has the power of choice to be an individual, but most importantly, to be yourself.

Theater really is a stage for social activism and justice. It causes us to ponder our lives, provoke new and insightful thoughts, question standards and tradition, but overall, it inspires and moves us towards action and change.

– Alfonza L.


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