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March 07, 2007 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2007-03-07

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w aa
Th Mihga . Wensdy ,20.







My career as a prop

J erry Seinfeld once said that more people
are afraid of public speaking than are
afraid of death and consequently a siz-
able chunk of the American population would
rather be the guy in the casket than the one
delivering the eulogy.
I can understand this. Then again, it's
almost common knowledge that deep down,
everyone wants to be an actor. I can under-
stand this, too.
And so it was with mixed emotions that
I made my theatrical debut as a sexist bigot
on the stage of the Power Center last month
wearing a "Vote for Proposal 2" T-shirt and
speaking only two words: "Vagaina mother-
A cameo as the embodiment of patriarchal
domination in "The Vagina Monologues"
wasn't exactly the sort of exposure needed to
get my fledgling acting career off the ground.
Despite my small role, I stood apart from the
rest my castmates. There was one thing I had
that none of the other performers had (save
two of my scene partners). It was something I
had that technically, was illegal in any perfor-
mance of this play: a penis.
Yes, I was one of the men in "The Vagina
Monologues" - a play with a clause writ-
ten into the copyright agreement specifying
that men be excluded from the production.

It wasn't exactly a violation, though. As my
director put it, I was cast not as a character
but asa prop.
You needn't cry "sexual discrimination" or
"stop objectifying men!" My less than glam-
orous role and the director's unfortunate
description of it, were necessary evils in the
pursuit of gender equality and a good show.
When I first got the call to be in the play by
director Leanna Millan, I was as giddy as a
schoolgirl. Finally, I would be able to join the
ranks of Brad Pitt, Sean Connery and Clive
Owen in the sexiest of professions - acting
stardom. I had never seen the play before,
and I wondered what medley of pubic hair,
periods and placentaI would be exposed to at
Excitement turned to terror when I real-
ized I would be playing a bad guy. Terrible
visions of what lay ahead flitted across my
mind: There was a memory of once feeling
like a piece of meat in a cage full of hungry
tigers as I sat in a overpriced hair salon, while
a pack of female hairdressers leered at me
and touched my head. I pictured walking into
a room of militant feminists bent on remov-
ing my more delicate man parts with words
sharpened like cheese graters.
Ijustkeptthinking: Don'thitonthewomen,
don't hit on the women. Hell, don't even open

your mouth for fear that someone may think
you are hitting on them and slap you.
The atmosphere was much more welcom-
ing than I had feared. The women were kind
and seemed glad to have three men in the cast
showing support for feminism. I recognized a
friend, a beautiful, tan woman with a red 5-
inch mohawk, who introduced me around the
room. People said "nice to see you here" and
"thanks for showing your support." My fear
was quelled, at least momentarily.
Soon it was time for my scene, "Angry
Vaginas." I was told when to walk onstage
and when to say my lines, but Millan and the
girls refrained from telling me the lines that
would be spoken at me. I was supposed to act
as though I wasn't paying attention to any of
the women. Before we walked onstage, my
scene partner, a soft-spoken, good-natured
woman named Ryan, explained my cues once
again. She calmed my nerves before I had
to deliver my one and only line. We walked
onstage, and after my cue (it was the word
"cunt"), I shouted the line to faux gasps and
boos from onlooking actors. Ryan turned
around. Then she looked me right in the eye
and surprised me.
Her softness turned to righteous fire, and
she hit me with an arsenal of words that,
because of the sheer terror of the moment,

I can hardly remember. Something about
scratchy tampons, ordering the fish and gap-
ing baby vaginas.
It was clear to me then that I wasn't really
destined to be an actor. As I stood there with
my mouth slightly open I was fairly sure I
wasn't even going tobe a very good prop. But
seeing the change in a real actor was almost
inspiring. Not just because she snapped into
character so fluidly but because of the viru-
lent material she was flinging in my direction.
I was struck by the idea that at least on that
stage, during that scene, she was miles away
from being a voiceless victim. Which is I guess
what the monologues are all about.
If I could go back, I'd do it again. That's
not to say I'm going to go looking for another
casting call. I'm abandoning my Hollywood
dreams, though I did manage to conquer my
fear of speaking in public, or at least, I was
able to swallow my stage fright and shout a
couple of obscenities.
Gender equality, not sensitivity, is the real
goal. I like to think that our production under-
scored this, literally and figuratively. Maybe
we showed that even in "The Vagina Mono-
logues" genitalia isn't all that important.
- Drew Philp is an LSA junior and a
staff reporter for The Michigan Daily

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