Tuesday, February 12, 2008

6 Out of 7 Years?

Something that has been sticking with me since reading yesterday's Observer article on the all-but-assumed approval of the V-Logs by the dean's office is one particular quote:
In this case, Roche said, the "Monologues" has been performed on campus six of the last seven years and has been publicly criticized by South Bend-Fort Wayne Bishop John D'Arcy. D'Arcy issued a nine-page statement in the spring of 2006 where he criticized Jenkins' decision to permit the play and his rationale for doing so.
Nevermind what Bishop D'Arcy has said about it--that's not my point here (although certainly the wishes of our bishop are of prime importance).

SIX OUT OF SEVEN YEARS?

Doesn't that seem to be a bit of overkill to anyone else? What other artistic production is repeated, over and over, by a committed posse of individuals, year and and year out, without fail?

I searched the DPAC's website, but came up with nothing. The Georgian Ballet Company (not the state of Georgia; the former Soviet Georgia) seems to have come to ND more than once. Undoubtedly musical performers return after a few years to grace our campus with their talents. And the Actors from the London Stage bring a fresh performance of one of Shakespeare's works to Washington Hall each semester. But nothing even seems to come close to repeating the exact same performance, six out of seven consecutive years.


What *is* it about the Monologues? Is it their offensive nature? Or perhaps their theatrically "innovative" presentation? Does the sexually explicit content just fit with what college students are attuned to? Is Loyal Daughters, which to my mind was the proposed 'replacement' (however inappropriate it still may be as a production approaching these issues of sexuality and violence against women), just not enough? Is it Eve Ensler?

I have do doubt that it's all about Eve. If it's not worthwhile to perform the same Shakespeare play every year during what I'm beginning to think of as "VDay Season," why does Ms. Ensler's work merit such a showing?

It seems to me that instead of finding innovative ways to actually approach the issue of violence against women--and of the true healing which every woman affected by such violence deserves--certain feminists on this campus have latched on to merely one approach. Instead of focusing on persons, they have taken up a cause. Instead of finding ways to help guide the women who need it towards resources that can bring them healing on this campus (not the least of which must be an active faith life), they are tied up in bureaucratic red tape and organizing mediocre academic panels. But why?

UPDATE (Matt): I was about to write this in a comment, but thought it appropriate to include in the body Rachel's post.

Lest anyone think otherwise, the issue of the 'Monologues' is contentious in *all* quarters of the University, not just Notre Dame's center-right.

One member of Feminist Voice -- not, perhaps, the first student group one would look to for remarks disparaging the VM -- told me yesterday that her club internally dislikes the fact that this is has turned into a perennial issue, since all it does is make them look "like crazy feminists." Indeed, I replied that the VM, in my view, bring out the worst on all sides. By raising the level of emotional intensity that people invest in the play -- either for or against its performance -- it seems that the organizers' supposed goal of reducing violence against women is only obfuscated. More damagingly, it forces students, faculty, administrators, and outside observers alike to take sides either "for" or "against" -- a decision which is too often based on existing loyalties rather than the merits of the event itself. Thus locked-in, the play must be either supported or opposed year after year, rather than be approached with fresh eyes each time that the issue arises.

1 comment:

Dan Amiri said...

Matt, you bring up a really good point. Regardless of the soundness of performing the play on a Catholic campus, which is an ongoing and heated discussion, the very fact that it is a contentious issue with passionate rationale for and against is perhaps one of the most pressing reasons why this play should at least be postponed indefinitely, until, that is, we have resolved the issue in the context of a truly academic, objective setting.