Written by Audry Olena
Megaphone Staff Writer
College campuses nationwide are always eager to put on a showing of Eve Ensler’s trailblazing theatrical work, “The Vagina Monologues.” Chronicling the lives and experiences of real women whom Ensler interviewed to create her piece, “Monologues” has made a huge impact on the lives of everyone who has experienced it.
At Southwestern University, a group of students had an idea about how to spread the love of bodies in a way that could encompass not only female reproductive parts (as well as male), but all other body parts and experiences of real Southwestern students.
The Mood-Bridwell Atrium housed “The Body Dialogues” in an intimate setting, imitating a theater-in-the-round experience. Rows of chairs lined both sides of a 3 ft. high stage, complete with two staircases and a wheelchair ramp. At ten minutes to curtain, there were only about 20 people present, but once the show began, the number had doubled and a fair-sized audience waited to receive the performance.
Four players of “The Body Dialogues” began their opening night show on Thursday with a rather shaky first piece, “Sex/Socks.” While the dialogue was wittily written and cleverly arranged between four players, opening night jitters were clearly at hand during the piece’s execution. A few of the actors forgot their lines and their cues, but the piece wrapped up nicely.
Fortunately, the first piece was not a harbinger of things to come. Once “Sex/Socks” had completed, the audience and actors had become better acquainted with each other and the actors’ jitters had mostly vanished.
The second piece, “Body Language is Important,” catalogued only five or six lines of text presented in numerous different situations, including an extremely amusing drug deal. While the human talents of Jessica Espinoza and Roland Dunkerley expressed great chemistry in “Body Language is Important,” Amy Litzinger shined with her canine companion in the endearing “Furry Hands,” explaining the importance of animals working with humans.
One of the funniest pieces in the entire show was “Screwed,” starring Jennifer Pitzen and Kelly Anderson, which played up sexual references while identifying an important aspect of many lives: the inclusion of technology to assist the body in its everyday activities.
Hilarity also ensued with “Is That Your Final Answer?,” a game show parody, hosted by the gregarious Liz Westbrook, explaining the side effects of a few particularly nasty sexually transmitted infections, resulting in one awfully frightened Lane Hill, who swore to use a condom after hearing about warts, pus, oozing and itching (and made the audience laugh quite heartily in doing so.)
Without a doubt, one of the best actors was Mike Predtetchenski, who performed “Baby Steps,” an intense piece recalling aspects of beat poetry. The piece is indicative of a journey, and as the monologue built upon itself – punctuated every so often by Mike’s decisive word, “step” – the audience grew more anxious to reach the climax of the piece (as did Predtetchenski.)
Another extraordinarily talented individual performing in the play was Espinoza, whose excellent speaking skills were presented wonderfully in “Listen to Your Body,” in which she played a rather perturbed gallbladder, as well as her monologue in “Listen/Love,” where she explained that contrary to popular belief, an absence of visual sight does not always mean a burden, but can and does indicate a gift of indescribable importance. Ms. Espinoza’s stage presence is undeniable, and her effervescent character plays well to audiences.
A final player worth mentioning is the ever-impressive Liz Westbrook, who is one of the most powerful speakers I have ever seen of any age. Her forward style brought intense emotion into “At the Shrink’s” as well as “She Never Told Them,” two pieces which left audiences stunned with the impact of words. Without Liz Westbrook, the play would have been a more lighthearted, but perhaps not as influential experience.
Memorable and moving, “The Body Dialogues” was a less traditional alternative to “Fiddler on the Roof,” which ran the same weekend, but it still displayed some of the finest writing and acting talents at SU. Preaching important life lessons as well as extracting the humor from our bodies and our experiences, “Dialogues” will continue to impact its audience for a long time