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So much more than female anatomy

BY MARISA WAY | FEBRUARY 25, 2010 7:30 AM

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Emily Mecklenburg’s passion for theater and medicine have one unexpected trait in common: vaginas.

“For both acting and being a doctor, you have to learn a set of skills,” she said. “I love theater; it was something fun to do aside from just med school. When I got to do it, it was just this amazing experience.”

The Vagina Monologues will be produced at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 6 p.m. Saturday and at 9 p.m. March 6 at Public Space One, 129 E. Washington St. Admission is $12; a $5 donation is encouraged.

The play, written by Eve Ensler, is a series of monologues all relating to the vagina, covering topics ranging from birth to sex to female genital mutilation. Mecklenburg said that in previous years, The Vagina Monologues has been done in collaboration with the theater department. This year, Medical Students for Choice, a pro-choice organization that focuses mainly on women’s health, is producing the event.

Proceeds from the shows will benefit the Emma Goldman Clinic, 227 N. Dubuque St., a health clinic that is described on its website as having “a feminist approach to health care.”

Despite some controversy surrounding the play because of topics that are addressed, Sam Locke Ward, a co-booker of events at the Mill, was not nervous about showing The Vagina Monologues.

“I’m just not worried about it,” he said. “We just wanted to support the cause, and we are always about doing theater-type events.”

Although Mecklenburg, a UI medical student taking the year off for research, said there has been controversy in previous years with the play, she has not encountered any problems this year. Last year, the play was produced at midnight in the Englert Theater, and Mecklenburg said a goal for this year was to gain more exposure for the show by having it at more public places.

“This play is not just for women,” she said. “It’s also for the community. Yes, it’s about women telling stories about themselves, but it’s really made for everybody to enjoy.”

Locke Ward is also convinced that a wide demographic will enjoy the show.

“I think people are going to come out and support it, and I think people who do come out are going to enjoy themselves,” he said.

Mecklenburg said the monologues present individuals’ experiences and allow the audience to take away from it what they will. She emphasized that the show is meant to empower women and that for a long time, women had to deal with the pressure to uphold the status quo.

“Violence against women is not just the men doing it, it’s the women allowing it to happen,” she said.

“The Vagina Monologues try to show that there’s a problem with the way we approach women, but women alone can’t fix it.”


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