Preparation for Vagina: OurStories 2015 has begun. Hosted by the Women’s Resources and Research Center (WRRC), Vagina: OurStories is an annual performance that lets the UC Davis community voice its diverse gendered experiences. The production pays homage to Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues.
To get ready for showtime, the WRRC holds writing circles every Thursday for six weeks. At these circles, writers provide feedback on each other’s pieces, developing their work as much as possible before submitting it for the show. According to Holly Ryborz, Vagina: OurStories producer and a third-year communication student, the circles allow writers to work openly and comfortably together.
“The folks who are in the circles tend to be those who understand the need for a safe space and how to be respectful of others as they go through the writing process,” Ryborz said.
Along with developing pieces, creating a safe environment is a top priority for the writing circles. For example, writers share their names and preferred gender pronouns before every meeting. Additionally, counselors from either the Student Health and Counseling Services or the Community Advising Network attend the meetings in case a participant ever feels uncomfortable.
An integral objective that premises Vagina: OurStories involves allowing individuals to heal creatively. With the writing circles, writers do not have to go through the creative process alone. The circles ultimately allow participants to connect with and grow through each other’s experiences.
“The writing circles play a part in building a sense of community by making the written pieces be a product of a team effort and not just the work of one individual,” Ryborz said.
While each story narrates one individual’s experience, the creative process behind them actually comprises the ideas and voices of many.
“Folks in the circle oftentimes share similar experiences,” Ryborz said. “Meeting and being able to become closer to those who can understand what you have gone through can strengthen a community and become a source for healing and support.”
For those with questions about the Vagina: OurStories writing circles or the production itself, please contact Holly Ryborz at firstname.lastname@example.org.