Gunn students take on 'Vagina Monologues'

Edgy off-Broadway hit is common at colleges but rare on high school campuses

Performances of Eve Ensler's 1996 off-Broadway hit "The Vagina Monologues" have become a staple around Valentine's Day on college and university campuses across the country.

In high schools, not so much.

But this year Gunn High School students are mounting a full production of the 14-monologue show that frankly explores aspects of female sexuality.

"No one says 'vagina' in everyday life because of how much it's discriminated against, even though it's a medical term," said Gunn senior Wendy Kraemer, producer and assistant director of the show.

Feeling inspired by a "sense of empowerment" she felt after watching the HBO film version of "The Vagina Monologues," Kraemer decided to try launching it at Gunn.

She enlisted senior Holly Wright, her friend and fellow actor in past theater productions, to direct the show.

"One of the reasons 'The Vagina Monologues' makes people feel so uncomfortable is that the whole concept of mystery and intrigue around femininity and womanhood has been the cultural norm," Wright said. "That's one of the things it tries to break through.

"People here really do have such open minds and, once they get past the title -- which is kind of a shocker -- and get to know what 'The Vagina Monologues' is really about, they usually really open up to the idea," she said. "Or, if they don't, they at least recognize the merits of doing such a performance."

Kraemer applied for permission to put together a performance through Ensler's organization, V-Day, which calls itself a "global activist movement to end violence against women and girls."

V-Day permits campus productions of the monologues under strict guidelines: 90 percent of profits must go to a local organization working to end violence against women and girls and 10 percent to V-Day; performances must occur between Feb. 1 and April 30; organizers and supporting teams should not be paid; admission should be charged.

Ensler's rules also call for "no male actors," with the added stipulation that men be "included and encouraged" to be involved in other ways.

The guidelines also stipulate that "No one should be turned away from participating in your event in some capacity."

Wright and Kraemer have assembled 14 Gunn student actors, ranging from freshmen to seniors, with additional backstage and technical help from others, including Kraemer's twin brother Evan and other male students. Proceeds will go to Bay Area Women Against Rape.

Kraemer and Wright said they made a presentation to Gunn's Site Council, which passed on becoming a sponsor. But they did get support - - and fiscal sponsorship -- from the Gunn Theater Boosters organization, as well as encouragement from theater teacher Jim Shelby.

Gunn Principal Katya Villalobos also expressed support.

While it's "not typical for a high school to have this production ... 'The Vagina Monologues' do highlight three issues around women: women's health, violence against women in all its forms and breaking the silence around these issues," Villalobos said.

"Using 'The Vagina Monologues' as a vehicle to have these items discussed to an audience is a great way for individuals to access them. Like other performances and productions, Gunn Theater will let audiences know that some of the material may not be suitable for younger audiences," the principal said.

Though somewhat conflicted, their parents have been supportive of their efforts, Wright and Kraemer said.

"Any normal mother would be, like, 'What? What are you doing?'" Kraemer said. "Mine had that reaction too but, when I explained it to her she was very supportive of what I wanted to do."

Said Wright: "My parents are pretty awesome too, although I definitely make my dad feel very uncomfortable whenever I talk about it. It's something he really supports, but he really doesn't like to hear that his teenage daughter is spending a lot of time talking about vaginas.

"But he's really glad that I'm doing this project."

While rare, high school productions of "The Vagina Monologues" are not unheard of.

Berkeley High School is also mounting a production this year, as are a host of Bay Area colleges and universities, including Stanford University, San Jose State University, Mills College and Sofia University.

"The majority of responses I've had have been positive, and people are very excited to see high school students tackle a difficult subject head-on," Kraemer said.

"I see it as a message not only of empowerment, but also teaching people that change is possible."

Gunn's 90-minute production will be held in the school's Little Theater Friday, Feb. 14, Saturday, Feb. 15 and Sunday, Feb. 16, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm

> "No one says 'vagina' in everyday life because of how much it's discriminated against, even though it's a medical term,"

Huh? I hear people saying "penis" and "vagina" all the time in all environments in any place they think they can get a snicker and get away with it. Nothing wrong with the word, but I just think this is really hardly a topic for high school ... it is just more sexualization of the young, who ... if I recall correctly are already sexualized quite enough. ;-)

But, like saying penis or vagina, if you complain or show any reaction at all you are labelled anti-sex or a prude.


Posted by community member, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Before anyone assumes anything about the play "The Vagina Monologues" and how it portrays women- read it. Otherwise you will end up sounding as ridiculous as CrescentParkAnon.

Also, Chris Kenrick, do your research. Paly produced this play nearly 10 years ago.

Posted by jeez guys lighten up, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Such grumpy comments...

More comedy, please. Less snark. A smile or two?

Hope your production goes well, Gunn students! Thanks for letting us know, Chris.

Posted by Chris Kenrick, Palo Alto Weekly Staff Writer, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:08 pm

Based on a review in The Paly Voice, it looks like the Paly Feminist Club produced "The Vagina Monologues" in February 2005.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:46 am

JustMe is a registered user.

Somehow, I bet it is also rare at middle school and elementary school campuses. Can't say I have seen it at any pre-school campuses. So, what age is it appropriate to push this sort of thing at our kids? And should we trust those who want to "push the envelope" to make those decisions about our kids for us?

My daughter in Duvineck was introduced to gay relationships in 4th grade, and somehow I always failed to appreciate that openness in the teachers. I can appreciate tolerance and openness among adults, but do we have to bring out kids into it before they are even really old enough to understand? Do parents have a say in this at all? Oh, I see, we are a prude if we object. Well, label me a prude and leave my kids out of it, thank you.

I remember seeing a Madonna interview where she said she felt it was her mission to introduce kids to her sexual concepts, and I remember wondering what gave her the right to make those decisions. Now the teachers are doing it too, and I feel just a little uncomfortable about that.

And by the way, where is the play that explores male sexuality? Or is that the politically inappropriate gender?

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:19 am

@JustMe - my children were "introduced" to gay relationships in Kindergarten simply because some of their classmates had same sex parents, not because teachers were introducing children to "sexual concepts". If teachers have to deal with a subject because it affects their classroom, then they have to. One of my children also had a classmate's parent die, the subject of death of a parent is also a tough one and probably not usually discusses at the age of 9 or 10. Sometimes real life interferes.

In the case of the Gunn play, these are teenagers making the choice to put on the play. No one is forcing anyone to see it.

Posted by Midtown neighbor, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:34 am

Well said, Palo Alto parent. Amen.

Posted by Cur Mudgeon, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 29, 2014 at 10:40 am

Vagina Monologues

Been done
At Gunn
In two-o-o-one

Yes, reporter needs to check local history.

Posted by Penny., a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:31 am

I've seen Vagina Monologues in a San Francisco venue--hilarious and thought provoking. I also know these two students' work. Holly is a terrific and talented aspiring director...and Wendy is a smart and talented actress in the drama group.

Good for them!!! I can't wait to see the show.

I keep wondering when PA Online will get some sense and stop providing this venue for anonymous nastygrams. Good grief, people, get a grip. News stories only, please. If you are going to allow comment, please require people to post their names to keep a safe and civil discussion environment for all of us. Thanks.

Posted by randy albin, a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

i am a Gunn Alum Class of 1975. it would be tough to be growing up today with all of the influences and provocative info that is in cyberspace and elsewhere. this is a somewhat controversial selection for a production. i have been in lots of community theatre. perhaps a better choice could have occured in selecting this. good luck and "break a leg." give it your best

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:59 am

JustMe is a registered user.

Palo Alto Parent, my daughter was introduced at the by her teacher, not by classmate. 4th grade is where students are given "The Talk", where human sexuality is introduced, but the introduction to gay lifestyles came prior to that talk, so they were introduced to gay sexuality prior to being introduced to heterosexual sexuality. It made me wonder if the agenda was education or recruitment.

I agree that life is not a fairy tale, and there are things the kids need to learn that affect their level of "innocence", and the question for me is when is the appropriate time. Shall we roll out the Monty Python productions in grade school, open their eyes with showmanship and humor? Do parents have a say in when their children are introduced to these things?

We are close friends with a family that has a son that is very sensitive to the topic of death. He would go into an emotional "thing" is he watched a movie where someone died, even Disney movies. My kids reacted to the concept more normally, but this boy (and we love him dearly) went into meltdown when he watched Disney's The Princess and the Frog. His parents tried to shelter him from the trauma, letting him age a bit further before watching movies with death in them. He needed the extra time, and I believe he is relaxing a bit now. Some kids need to be treated with a little more care and concern, and I don't believe that schools should push ahead with their "politically correct" agendas that may not be good for all kids, especially when there is no real need other than the need for the schools to present a "progressive" posture.

Penny, were you referring to my post as being a nastygram? I do not feel it was one, I merely presented my thoughts and opinions. Sorry if you didn't like them, but,.... tolerance?

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:38 pm

In the good old days growing up on farms taught children about sex and death.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:07 pm

My daughter is participating in this production, and I'm extremely proud of her and the rest of the Gunn students for using theater to tackle important topics in a productive way.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:22 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Important topics in a productive way? Here is a clip from Wikipedia:

Feminist criticism

The Vagina Monologues has been criticized by a number of people in the pro-sex feminist, sex egalitarian, and individualist feminist movements. Harriet Lerner points out the "psychic genital mutilation" embedded in the play's title, which ignores the clitoris and labia, should more accurately be called "The Vulva Monologues". Pro-sex feminist Betty Dodson, author of several books about female sexuality, saw the play as having a negative and restrictive view of sexuality and an anti-man bias.[8] She called the play "a blast of hatred at men and heterosexuality". Individualist feminist Wendy McElroy agreed, stating that the play "equates men with 'the enemy' - heterosexual love with violence".[9][10] She also identified problems with the work's lesbian bias, stating "A play that claims to unveil the truth about vaginas but, somehow, overlooks the salutary role men play in most women's sexuality has no credibility."[11]

Elements of the play that critics find contentious include:

The amount of attention given to brutal sexual encounters compared with consensual or harmonious sexual encounters;
Negative portrayal of male-female sexual relationships;
In "The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could", an underage girl (thirteen in earlier performances, sixteen in the revised version) recounts being given alcohol and then having sex with an adult woman; the incident is recalled fondly by the grown girl, who in the original version of the play calls it "a good rape." Her abuser is also portrayed positively as someone "rescuing" her from needing men for sexual satisfaction .[11]
Part of the play comes from Ensler's interviews with a six-year-old girl, which included sexually intimate questions such as what her vagina smells like.[12]
I really like the part about the "good rape", celebrating child sexual abuse. Or is child sexual abuse okay when the abuser is a woman and the sex is lesbian?

Come on now, what are you REALLY teaching your kids?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Perhaps I am a prude, I never thought I was.

This sounds too adult in content for children. We protect them from movies by giving movies ratings. I wonder what the rating for this would be, or doesn't it count if children are presenting it?

What will the schools do next? Perhaps nude models for art classes won't be far off!

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Resident, how about a musical: Rocky Horror Picture Show. At least it is a little more gender neutral, not preaching a message of how evil men are and how women don't need them in their lives.

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 5:32 pm

As a Gunn High School junior involved in this production, I would like to say one thing:
Yes, the content of this show most certainly pushes the envelope and is not typically targeted towards high school students. That said, living in a relatively progressive and liberal community, we should take advantage of the fact that many people are mature enough to take away the true message of the show. I cannot tell you how empowering it is to bring some of the issues with female sexuality to light and expose so many of the double standards that women are faced with each day. These things are so taboo to discuss that sometimes it seems as though they will never change. We're a group of women, albeit highschoolers, that want to change that norm and challenge that boundary. Will parts of the show make people uncomfortable? Absolutely. But if that discomfort leads to some proactive change and improvements of women's rights, at least in our own small community, then I believe it is worth it. Also, keep in mind that the show features other tones. Many of the monologues are humorous, interesting, insightful, or silly- not just "inappropriate". I truly do believe that The Vagina Monologues is an important play to see, even if you don't agree with everything that is being said.

A huge thank you to those of you who do support us, and we can't wait to see you at a performance!

Posted by llfried, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2014 at 5:57 pm

llfried is a registered user.

Now let's see. I grew up on a farm in Pennsylvania. I was introduced to death almost as soon as I could walk when we killed chickens for food. By the time I was nine, although I regretted slaughtering the hogs (even those that my sister and I had named), it was a part of life.
As for SEX ... it was never a mystery on the farm. We bred the cows. Dad hired a stallion to impregnate our mares. And lots of the farm wives had their babies at home.
Death and sex are not something to be hidden from children. The very act of "hiding" them brings on the attraction of the forbidden. While the Monologues may present a biased view that is a reflection of the forbidden, it is certainly not something to hide from tens who may already not be virgins.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:24 pm

I am enormously proud of my daughter's involvement with this production, and I think it's great that Gunn is supporting the shows by providing theater space. I think the outreach to benefit Bay Area Against Rape is commendable, and the sort of charitable work that we try to instill in our kids.

I understand the that subject matter is controversial. But the school and teachers are not forcing students to attend.
If you don't agree with the subject matter, don't attend. Pretty easy choice.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:29 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Another tidbit from Wikipedia:
Robert Swope Critique

In 2000, Robert Swope, a conservative contributor to a Georgetown University newspaper, The Hoya, wrote an article critical of the play. He suggested there was a contradiction between the promotion of rape awareness on V-Day and the monologue "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could", in which an adult woman recalls being given alcohol and statutorily raped at 13 by a 24-year-old woman as a positive, healing experience, ending the segment with the proclamation "It was a good rape." Swope also noted the double standards involved, asking "why is rape only wrong when a man commits it, but when it's by a woman committed against another woman, who just happens to be 13-years-old, it is celebrated and a university club sponsors it?"[11] Outcry from the play's supporters resulted in Swope's being fired from the staff of the Hoya, before the piece was even run. Swope had previously criticized the play in an article he wrote entitled "Georgetown Women's Center: Indispensable Asset or Improper Expenditure?" His termination received critical editorial coverage in The Wall Street Journal,[15],[16] National Review,[17] The Atlantic Monthly, The Washington Times, the Weekly Standard and Wendy McElroy of iFeminists.[18]

I am afraid I view this play as being the work of man-hating (note that men are an un-neccesary evil in this play) lesbian (note the strong lesbian bias in the sexuality) feminists (note that the feminists strongly endorse and push this play). If you are a male, this play should make you very uncomfortable, just like the Jews were made uncomfortable by the anti-Semitic slant of propaganda in Germany in the 1930's. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, that it good, but don't say anything because you are not of a politically correct gender and your feelings don't count.

I can only wonder, however, how the boys at Gunn view this play. They are being targeted by gender bigotry here. how does the enthusiastic acceptance of this play make THEM feel? Remember, the message is that they are evil, they are only a problem for women, heterosexual sex is actually violence towards women. Do any of those boys wish to speak up?

Posted by Hutch 7.62, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm

gosh what ever happened to plays like "A street Car named Desire" too much politics in the PA school system today. Glad I send my kids to private school

Posted by student, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:58 pm

@ "JustMe", I speak on behalf of the entire cast and crew when I say that some of your comments are untrue and are based on no real evidence (even high school students know that wikipedia is not a reliable source of information). But we'd love it if you came to the show and tried to prove us wrong!

Posted by Mary, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:41 pm

My son is also involved with this production and never considered that he should feel emasculated in any way. But thanks for your concern...

Posted by Very Inarpropriate , a resident of Midtown
on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm

I attended an event like this, andit was ok because it was only open to adults. I hope counselors and sexuologist have some kind of relief for the students because they might get aroused. Also if it is the same as the one I attended, they speak a lot about rape by lesvians to girls. I would recommend it if they have free coulseling to the young audients and the students taking part on the play. We do not want to bring back memories to those students who have been raped without providing profesional emotional support.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:26 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:47 pm

To straighten out confusion in some of the comments - this is a student-driven production, not a "school" production. No adult or body at the school had any role in choosing the play or recruiting students to get involved. It sounds like Theater Boosters are providing some resources, and Mr. Shelby and others are supportive. But the show is being done because a group of kids were interested in doing it and did the work to secure resources and make it happen. Hard to argue with that - the alternative would be telling them that somehow they could not do it. That would make no sense.

Good luck to the staff, cast, and crew!

Posted by JustTheFacts, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 30, 2014 at 6:25 am

There is an error in the article: the show will be performed February 14, 15, and 16 at 7:30 pm. Hope the Weekly can fix this before going to print!

Posted by dontberude, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:49 pm

dontberude is a registered user.

I'm very disappointed at the comments that are turning up. The fact that this play is about women's rights does not mean that it insults men. There are plenty of young men who are actively working on this project, and they agree that this is an important message that young people should receive. Why don't we talk about men's rights? Because men already enjoy their rights. Both men and women can be raped, but women suffer more often. 1/6 women will or have nearly been raped in their lives. It's important for teens to understand the damage done by rape and to try to fix this problem. And another thing, feminism does not equal lesbianism. Also, men often talk about their sexuality, but women do not. If a woman does, it's considered scandalous. Either both sexes should not be permitted to talk about their sexuality, or both should have the right to do so. Slut shaming is surprisingly common along with the belief that women who are raped deserved it. I agree that this play is shocking, and is definitely not for everyone, but you don't have to watch it. That is your choice. Just accept the message that women are raped and society treats it like it's normal. Accept the fact that we need to change the world, and it's not about "what world would I like to grow old in?", it's "what world would my children like to live in?". Do we want inequality? Do we want a society where the media objectifies women and makes rape sound ok? Does anyone want songs like Blurred Lines to influence young people? No. We can and will make a statement against such abuses. Before you say that the Vagina Monologues are some femenazi agenda, please remember that this is a society that desperately needs voices to speak out against rape.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm

@JustMe - do you really think your daughter's teacher was trying to "recruit" her to a gay lifestyle? Being gay is not a lifestyle.

As far as the "Vagina Monologues" at Gunn, is that the most appropriate play for them to put on, maybe not. High School students are given freedom to express themselves when it comes to the arts, the journalism program and Paly and Los Altos High school have been criticized by parents, but pushing limits is what being a teenager is about.

Posted by theimprobableone, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

To all cast and crew, break a leg! :)

Posted by Susan, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:24 pm

"Being gay is not a lifestyle"

How can you say that? I know a number of women who claimed to be lesbian, then switched to marrying a man. Does Anne Heche/Ellen DeGeneres come to mind?

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

@Susan - changing your mind or being bisexual still doesn't make a biological preference a lifestyle. Neither does being right or left handed and people change that too.

Posted by Midtown, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 30, 2014 at 8:58 pm

Gee folks just read the play (Google it). It is not about men! Or lesbians. Read it. You will figure it out!

Posted by Get a dose of dignity, a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 9:17 am

It is simply inappropriate, and probably illegal, to have kids under the age of 18 participate in this play. Period.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2014 at 11:55 am

JustMe is a registered user.

"As far as the "Vagina Monologues" at Gunn, is that the most appropriate play for them to put on, maybe not. High School students are given freedom to express themselves when it comes to the arts, the journalism program and Paly and Los Altos High school have been criticized by parents, but pushing limits is what being a teenager is about."

So the doctors let the inmates run the asylum and then deny all responsibility for the results, huh? Teachers not responsible = irresponsible teachers.

This piece of anti-male gender bigotry does not belong in our schools, period.

Posted by Please stop, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:25 pm

@JustMe I can't believe you are talking about bigotry. If a guy wants to write the Penis Monologues, that's fine by me. Read the play, it's not anti male. It's not about how bad men are, it is about women coming to term with their bodies. Rape is something that damages women's self esteem, and this play talks about how women should develop a love for their lady parts. If you don't like it, don't watch it. Stop putting offensive comments up.
To all Gunn cast members, break a leg!

Posted by factsplease, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:31 pm

JustMe- I dare you. I double dare you to read the script for The Vagina Monologues. I triple dog dare you to read the entire thing through, and then come back to this forum with your uneducated, biased, copy-pasted from wikipedia arguments.
I won't give you a link to the script, since you're obviously quite adept at googling with key words to find your wiki articles.

Posted by Btw, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:31 pm

By the way, Wikipedia doesn't provide enough detail in what the Vagina Monologues are, and a lot of it is wrong.

Posted by No more hate, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:34 pm

I agree with both factsplease and btw. Please don't hate. Just because it exists doesn't mean the actresses are going to break into your house and force you to watch it. Just chill.

Posted by Student número 2, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Please just read the play before freaking out, JustMe. This is not going to kill us. In 2001, Gunn theatre performed this too. You really don't have to attend. And I find it rather rude that your comments totally disreguard feminism. Diss the play all you want, but don't spout random hate at feminists. Hate is a quality of backlash; the fear of change. It's disgusting to see. If anything is traumatizing, it's seeing how bigoted society really is. I'm not even on the cast. And I have male friends working on the Vagina Monologues. They are volunteering extra time and effort to make these messages understood.

Posted by Gosh, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:51 pm

This isn't even a school play, lighten up guys. Students are allowed to perform outside class and official school plays, yeah?

Posted by The Fe-y (irony), a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 31, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Please stop saying period after everything. It sounds like you're disproving your argument against the monologues. :)

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:12 pm

I'm a Gunn senior familiar with the programs and people involved in Gunn performing arts but not involved in this production. I feel like there are a few things that need clarifying:

1. Please be aware that the Vagina Monologues is not one of the four-ish school-sponsored shows, but an independent student-run production. This production is just like a club: Gunn provides the facilities and the students, but everything else is student-led (auditions, approval, seeking funding, cast, crew, directors, etc.).

2. This production is acknowledged to be for mature audiences only, but this isn't a rarity given the recent shows. Consider the 2012 choir musical "OUT!!", "The Rimers of Eldritch" in Fall 2013, "Kiss Me, Kate" in Spring 2011, and Mary Zimmerman's "Arabian Nights" in Fall 2012. These shows were also commentaries about culturally difficult topics such as gay acceptance, rape, gunshots/violence, and sexism. Gunn Theatre addresses serious issues that ideally shouldn't, but occasionally do, happen in our lives, and we are warned of this before we decide to attend. Theatre at Gunn is valued not just as entertainment, but also as a thought-provoking experience.

3. Considering everything that a high schooler can access if desired, from movies, the internet, books, and other resources, the questionably-appropriate content in the Vagina Monologues does not even approach the levels of undeniable inappropriateness many of us have already experienced. I'm pretty sure parents would prefer their daughters and sons to attend this instead of going to a rave. The people sitting in the audience of the Vagina Monologues will be select. I know there will be plenty of freshmen who are mature enough to watch it, but I'm sure there are several seniors, parents, and even teachers who aren't, even if they are 18+.

Good luck to everyone involved. I understand that when our older community members' were teenagers, they did not discuss topics like vaginas as openly as modern culture encourages, and that to them this can seem awkward and out-of-place for us. The good news is that the younger generation is getting objectionably exposed to this stuff earlier and is overall more tolerant and supportive of equality, be it based on gender, sexual orientation, or whether we like to attend or be part of educational theatre.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 31, 2014 at 5:23 pm

I will go back to my earlier comment.

If this were a movie, what would its rating be?

Should this have a rating? Is there anything to prevent middle schoolers, or even elementary students being taken to this production?

Is this something you would want to see with your grandmother sitting beside you? Would you take her along?

Paly had problems with streakers and some parents were outraged. It is no surprise that there are questions about the suitablility of this production for children. I have no problems with naked adolescents of either gender displaying exhibitionism. I do worry that many of the audience in the theater will not be mature enough to understand what they are seeing and hearing. Since students can attend this performance without parental permission, how can anyone say that some will not be attending for voyeurism and similar inappropriate reasons.

Posted by GunnStudent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 31, 2014 at 6:18 pm

@Resident- Fair points.

If this were a movie, it would probably be rated PG-13. Parental guidance suggested, but not required.

I don't think younger students attending will be an issue simply because they are not the target audience. The main exception to this is if their older siblings are in this. In that case, their parents without a doubt will decide whether it is appropriate for them to attend. They aren't at the age that they are going to shows without their parents knowing what's going on, anyway.

I'd be happy to have my grandmother watch this with me. She has a vagina, too, and it's never to late to learn to love it! She'd probably understand the need for shows like these better than I would, given that she's lived through a time of more extreme sexism.

Anyone "attending for voyeurism and similar inappropriate reasons" will be disappointed. I just read the first half of the play, and these audience members will probably feel uncomfortable. But maybe, in spite of themselves, they'd learn something.

For anyone who took their daughters or went themselves to a growing up/puberty talk, the show feels more like that than anything else people are imagining.

Posted by Paly student , a resident of Midtown
on Feb 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Paly's advanced theatre class put on a production of Ensler's works including many vagina monologues just last spring, when Ensler visited Paly.

Posted by Gunn junior , a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Now if only gunn would address the actual violence against female students occurring there by boyfriends. That is known and this school does nothing. Wouldn't that be great if Mrs Villalobos could do that instead of chattering about the play. I think Mrs Villalobos is who needs to see this play and raise her awareness.

Posted by Penny, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm

It's a terrific play. This is a talented group of drama students, and I am enthusiastically anticipating a great theater experience. I'll bring my husband and daughters. We'd bring grandma and grandpa if they didn't live on the east coast.

Really, folks, I recommend you see or read the play before you get wound up about it. I have seen it. The negative comments above misrepresent what the play is about.

Break a leg, kiddos! I'm looking forward to your show.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Thanks for producing a play that puts the boys in their place. This play teaches that girls don't need men, and need to be "rescued" from wanting them, even if it takes a sexual predator and child sexual abuse to do it.

You want to read something? Try "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men.", by Christina Hoff Sommers. This play is right there, on the wrong side. Is this how you want to raise your boys? Is this how you teach your boys self-worth, hope for the future, your value of them? As I recall, this same high school had a major problem with its boys a few years back, and you were all mystified by it. If this is the way you think of them, I am saddened but not mystified.

You are empowering and promoting your girls at the expense of your boys. I have no problem with empowering and enabling girls, I am just loath to do it at the expense of the boys.

And I am also opposed to any excusing or blessing of child sexual abuse. Is it just me that feels that way?

Posted by 2 way road, a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm

The very real results of boys falling behind with not as many going to college, is a direct result in focusing on making the girls more comfortable.
Remember for years it was "Take your daughter to work day"? All the boys sat in class, some no doubt wondering why they don't get to go.
Its taken a while, and as college enrollment shows, damage has been done, but at least we're talking about it. I only have daughters, but if I had a son I would be concerned.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

The "Take your Daughter to Work Day" thing, as originally done, had the boys not only staying in class, but on that day they were to be "educated" about how women have been badly treated by men, as if it was THEIR fault. Thankfully, this day has been transformed into "Take Your Child to Work Day", and is now more gender neutral.

That day was a result of a "study" done, I believe, by the AACW, that showed that schools were discriminating against girls and hurting their self esteem. The "study" did not bother to define "self esteem" or how it was measured. It was also not properly circulated for peer review, and for good reason: It was not a scientific study. Keep in mind that most of the teachers that were "discriminating" were women!

Girls now enjoy a higher HS graduation rate, a higher college entrance rate, and a higher college graduation rate. Boys and girls have very different behavior patterns, but in the schools the boys are pressured to fit the behavior pattern of girls more than vice versa. There is a feminization thing going on there.

This play is supported by the feminist groups that do not believe in gender equality, but in the superiority of females. It's not about equality any more.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Here ya go. According to this play, this teacher should be thanked, not punished.

Web Link

I vote that she be punished, but not as a woman typically is, but how a man would be punished for the same crime. Women typically get off VERY light for these crimes, while men get slammed. Time for some gender equality.

Posted by factsplease, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by former PALY parent, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Feb 5, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Don't worry, it's all part of a general lowering of the quality of our society...and the desperate need for 15 minutes' worth of (supposed) fame or at least...attention. Sad, really. Exhibitionism rules today. Vulgarity is vulgarity and public high schools should "err" on the side of thinking of what is best for their (majority) under age 18YOs. When one is 18 and over, anything goes, we know...that is different.

Posted by JustMe, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 5, 2014 at 8:17 pm

JustMe is a registered user.

Newsflash factsplease:
[Portion removed.]

So, what, you think that we should leave it alone and call child sexual abuse something that is good for the victim, and encourage sexual predators out there to have at the kiddies? Because among other things, that is what this play does.

Posted by factsplease, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 7, 2014 at 10:04 pm

@JustMe: When was the last time you personally saw the production?

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 9, 2014 at 3:06 pm

And @JustMe what's the AACW?

Posted by Factoid, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Feb 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm

When this play was off B'way, and the ex-wife of the former mayor of NYC was in it, it was not permitted for anyone under 18 to attend performances.

Why has that changed in a few short years? Why are minors allowed to perform in this play?

Posted by Gunn Parent, a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 14, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Here is the first hit that Googling "vagina monologues script" yields:

Web Link

I saw the play tonight and it was terrific. It was about women describing what it was like to be women. The stories contained good and bad, happy and painful and everything in-between. The students did a great job of bringing the stories to life. They were mature and thoughtful. Great job!

There was a discussion afterwards that was also terrific. One topic that came up was this comments thread.

I wish the adults could be as mature as the kids when tackling challenging topics. For example, consider:

"Thanks for producing a play that puts the boys in their place. This play teaches that girls don't need men, and need to be "rescued" from wanting them, even if it takes a sexual predator and child sexual abuse to do it."

I can understand why someone might feel that some of the subject matter in The Vagina Monologues is inappropriate for kids. We can certainly have a debate based on the actual content. But it sure helps to know about the actual content. Maybe it is the adults who are not mature enough to handle the material, intellectually honest enough to admit it, or tech-savvy enough to use Google Search.

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