(Students talk in background.)
ROBYN (narrating): It’s Thursday night and I’m covering the world premiere of This Body GW, a student written show put on by the GW Feminist Student Union. It’s replacing their annual production of The Vagina Monologues, a popular show from the 90’s that’s recently come under fire for lacking diversity. And to be fair, This Body is also a series of monologues– but this time, it’s written by students and it includes stories you might not have heard before. I talk to a cast member named Phedra. Her girlfriend is watching tonight, so she’s feeling–
PHEDRA: Yeah… I’m excited, but also, it’s like, the first day and the only time they’re coming so I’m just like– yikes! But once I’m in there I’m like, in the zone and I’ll be good. But the before part is always like…nightmare inducing (laughs).
ROBYN (narrating): And there’s plenty else to think about. Cast members lounge in the first couple rows of chairs, talking, laughing, eating take-out. In the back, the producers are working on sound check and stage lights with some GW staff. At the front, there’s one of those carpeted pop up type stages that shakes when you walk up the stairs.
NEGI (executive producer): Doors are opening! House is open!! House is open.
(Audience talk in background.)
ROBYN (narrating): Looking around, I’d put the crowd at about 50 people. Oh, and hey– remember Phedra, that girl who was so nervous? Well, while I was milling through the crowd, I met her girlfriend!
ROBYN: She is so nervous!
PHEDRA’S GIRLFRIEND: I know, that’s what she told me, but I’m very excited to see this! And it’s the first one and it’s gay a.f. and I’m so ready (laughs).
(Someone whistles for attention and audience members stop talking.)
NEGI: Hi everybody and welcome to our first ever production of This Body!
(Audience cheers and claps. Producers read announcements. Audience cheers as show starts.)
ROBYN (narrating): A lot of the show is pretty serious– it deals heavily with race, sexual assault, mental illness and identity.
CAST MEMBER 1: And still, I think about what I would’ve done had I known better. Had my older self-wrote a letter and it would say: When your mother tells you that you are a mistake, do not believe her. When the boy you like takes forever to make the first move, kiss him first. Do not apologize for feeling.
(Audience cheers and claps.)
ROBYN (narrating): But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any humor.
CAST MEMBER 2: So I decided to explain—“Well, umm, I’m abstinent for religious reasons.” Tinder date’s eyes went wide. Umm, he sat up completely bewildered. [In deep voice] “Oh wow really?! Wow!” I almost started looking around to see if the abstinence centaur had just galloped into the room and laid this crown of abstinent flowers on my abstinent head and then just galloped away and left behind a sense of, like, peace and wonder (audience laughs).
(Audience cheers and claps. As applause dies down, audience and cast members start talking and milling around, hugging and congratulating each other.)
NEGI: Alright, feel free to go mingle, y’all!
CAST MEMBER 3: Can we have a group hug?
ROBYN (narrating): You know, people really like to rip on my generation about trigger warnings and safe spaces and that kind of thing. They say we’re too coddled to have uncomfortable conversations. But tonight, I saw just the opposite: millennials confronting trauma head on and growing because of it. I think this audience member sums it up best–
AUDIENCE MEMBER: I appreciated how honest it was. Like, you know, you’ll some, you’ll have your very close friends where you’ll have someone that you really connect with and will share these things with you, but you aren’t very often given insight into someone’s world that way and you can benefit so much in your own reflection.