By Erika Aguilar |Staff Writer|
The San Manuel Student Union Theatre presented its first play, “Panza Monologues”, on March 3, organized by the Women’s Resource Center (WRC).
The play is based on the book, “The Panza Monologues,” written by Virginia Grise and Irma Mayorga.
It is a solo performance based on women’s stories about their panzas, which means “bellies” in English.
The book features Chicanas speaking with humor and honesty about their stories, including their panza. The panza represents
as a symbol, revealing the truths about their experience with life, love, abuse, living conditions, obstacles and political concerns.
The monologues are a combination of comedy and drama, in which 11 performers acted out the stories at the event.
“The first Panza Monologues was a little chaotic because we had not done that before; we had to make sure the props were right, the lighting and the music was set up right, but it turned out really good because we almost had a packed full of theatre for the performance,” said WRC student assistant Felicia De La Isla.
De La Isla said the Panza Panza Monologues is similar to the Vagina Monologues, except it is much more specific to Latina experiences dealing with: identity, body image, domestic violence, poverty, immigration, love, loss and more.
The Stories that were presented during the play were from the perspectives of Latina women of different ages and backgrounds.
Majority of the students who participated in the play did not have any experience with acting, but could relate to what the monologues talked about.
Natalie Gonzales, a performer,
who said it was her first time doing a play on stage.
“I had a lot of anxiety going up there because I am not really an outgoing person to begin with,” said student Gonzales.
Gonzalez said she pretended she was talking to one of her family members to overcome her anxiety of performing on stage.
“The monologue I read actually was really relevant to my life and that made it much easier for me to pretend I was talking to a family member and like spilling all the gossip about it,” said Gonzales.
Saira Ortega was another performer who participated in the play for two reasons.
The first reason was because she watched the Vagina Monologues back at Riverside Community College (RCC) and she really liked it.
The second reason was because it was a way of overcoming her fear of public speaking.
“It made me feel a little more confident about speaking in front of others because going up on stage was not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” said Ortega.
Ortega said the audience reacted well to her performance, which encouraged her to keep on doing things like this to become more involved in school.
The majority of the stories that were presented included the belly as a way of empowering women to love their selves the way they are.
The WRC coordinator, Janet Monus-Alex, said some women have had issues regarding their belly at some point in their life, which is also represents a lot of factors.
“It represents giving life, nourishment, comfort, self-care and it is an important part of our identity in many ways,” said Monus-Alex.
WRC graduate assistant Marissa Wollard said that in the book, the author discusses that part of activism is self-care.
“If you are not taking care of yourself, you are not able to continue your activism,” said Wollard.
“It is a balance that you need to have and that your self-care is represented in your panza in the way it looks,” continued Wollard.
One of the attendees at the event said she enjoyed the play and was encouraged to attend to see how the performers were going to expand the topic of body image.
“I had a great experience,” said student Daisy Saucedo.
“I did not know what was going to happen next so when they did different things each time, it kind of surprised me,” added Saucedo.
Saucedo said she would definitely attend another event like this because she enjoyed how it was enacted.
The Panza and Vagina Monologues serve as motivational plays to let attendees know that they are capable of performing,
and thus encouraging participation.
“We hope students audition in the future so they can see what it is like to be on stage,” said De La Isla.
De La Isla hopes that now that many students have seen the play and know what it is about, they can audition the next time the WRC does the play again.