The Show Must Go On

A student-run production of “The Vagina Monologues” will finally take place later this month – just not on University grounds.

After being denied the opportunity to coordinate the play on campus, senior Alisha Brizicky has finally decided to host the play in her backyard, located on 164th street, just six blocks from St. John’s Queens campus. The play will open April 20.

“After all that work, I wasn’t going to just give up,” Brizicky said. “This has become so ridiculous in terms of what the play has been accused of being, and I wanted to make sure people got a chance to see what it was really about.”

Despite her failed efforts to feature the play on campus, Brizicky attests that she has ultimately succeeded in the cause she picked up six months ago.

“Of course it would have been fantastic to be able to perform on campus,” she said. “We would probably have been able to raise more money that way, and I’m upset that we lost that chance. However, we will be able to make a substantial donation, and we will have introduced a considerable amount of people to the cause and the issues at hand.”

The controversial play, which is primarily concerned with issues regarding violence against women and notoriously voices the word “vagina” 136 times, was originally denied a University-sponsored showing in January by Father James Maher, vice president of Student Life, and Dr. Jose Rodriguez, associate vice president of Student Life.

“It really gets us divided on an issue that we have to be fundamentally unified on,” Maher told The Torch in January.
After meeting with Maher and Rodriguez on the chances of hosting the play on campus, Brizicky’s cause garnered increased attention and support, ultimately resulting in her decision to host the play off campus.

“Though I hate to get into a grudge match with the administration,” Brizicky explained, “part of this is absolutely about taking a stand against them. I refuse to allow my principles to be compromised by their narrow-mindedness.”

While Brizicky and others have adopted the cause, the student body has been largely split on the issue. Fourty-nine percent of visitors polled voted that they would not like to see “The Vagina Monologues” at St. John’s, a sentiment shared by Michael Paris, a member of the Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati Confraternity, a Catholic student organization.

“‘The Vagina Monologues’ reduces a woman to her private parts and inadvertently does what has been so destructive to the cause of women over history, turning their bodies into objects and failing to see the spiritual element in femininity,” he said.

“For those who want to run the play under the banner of academic freedom: how is a positive representation of a teenager getting sexually assaulted by an older woman academic? How is reducing a woman to her vagina promoting freedom?”

Amid the controversy surrounding her cause, though, Brizicky maintains that her decision to host the play at her house is rooted in a genuine belief in what “The Vagina Monologues” represents.

“People need to keep in mind that at its heart, this issue isn’t really about free speech or conservative administrations: it’s about raising money to help end violence against women,” she said. “That was the idea that was foremost in my mind when I decided to have the production at my house. We may not raise as much money as if it had been on campus; we will most certainly not be able to raise as much awareness. But whatever we do raise will help.”

According to Brizicky, tickets will cost $10 for regular attendees and $5 for St. John’s students. All proceeds from the event will be donated to The Allen Women’s Resource Center, a housing shelter for female victims of domestic violence.

“I don’t feel at all defeated by being forced off campus,” Brizicky said. “My hope is that our audience won’t feel that way either. We are doing great things, and refusing to be marginalized wherever we perform – that’s nothing to feel defeated about.”

For ticket information and directions, contact Alisha Brizicky at [email protected].