November 13, 2009
Students raise awareness of body issues
The event is organized and directed by senior creative writing major Brittany Jerlat, who will graduate at the end of this semester.
Ensler, author of the 1996 award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues," wrote "The Good Body" in 2004. The production is about dealing with women's body issues.
"I found the book in a used book store, read it that night and knew it needed to happen," Jerlat said. "There are a lot of body issues on this campus that aren't addressed."
Jerlat said that assembling the playbill, which doubles as a literary magazine, was stressful at first. She said that she was concerned that she wouldn't have enough submissions.
"But in the end, I had [...] even more than that," she said.
Jerlat said that since the play centers on being proud of yourself physically, she wanted to encourage people to be proud of their creative skills, which meant allowing some creative leeway of her own.
"I originally wanted a theme of personal or body image issues in the submissions and it ended up going in that direction on its own," she said. "I just wanted people to bring forth things they were proud of."
Jerlat noted the support of WomenSpeak in putting together and spreading the word about the production.
"Anytime someone who knows WomenSpeak does anything, they rise to the occasion," she said.
Silvana Alfonso, a senior creative writing major who has a part in "The Good Body," is also in WomenSpeak.
Alfonso noted the similarities between "The Vagina Monologues" and "The Good Body."
"Both were written by Eve Ensler and both deal with body issues, which are addressed in the 'Monologues' but not as much as they are here [in 'The Good Body.'] It's also in accordance with our Love Your Body Day," she added.
For Jerlat, getting the rights from Ensler's theatrical agency was a humbling experience.
She described signing her name on a line that Ensler would also soon sign as "crazy and awesome at the same time."
The actors in "The Good Body" started by having individual practices, but in the past few weeks have been rehearsing as a group.
"I like being a director, but I like the teamwork aspect," Jerlat said.
She also noted that she received a great deal of help from senior creative writing major Billie Tadros, who wrote "Fresh Ground: The Musical" last spring, a production that was also accompanied by a literary magazine playbill.
"She's also in this show, and she helped me a lot as someone who's done an independent production before," Jerlat said.
The play features monologues from several different female characters grappling with their own body issues.
"I am Bernice, an African-American obese teen at fat camp," Alfonso said. "Her main issue is that skinny girls complain about their body issues, even though some of us 'have it worse' as deemed by society, and we don't complain about it."
Jerlat noted that Alfonso's monologue takes place early in the play. "Each monologue brings about a transformation," she said. "Each character gets closer to loving her body, and then makes Eve love her body."
Jerlat said that other characters include a model who marries her plastic surgeon and a middle-aged woman who satisfies her husband by altering her female sex organs.
"All of the monologues have their funny parts, but there are parts where you really feel for the characters," Jerlat said.
Tickets for the play are on sale in the lower level of the Degenstein Campus Center for $3 and will be $5 at the door.
Lia Sophia jewelry will be raffled off at the play, with all proceeds going to Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition.
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