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Cantrella Canady draws unexpected dimension from ‘Vagina Monologues’ Coochie Snorcher vignette


Cantrella Canady describes herself as “just a girl who likes to act.” But the truth is, her growing reputation as a force of nature in the Southwest Florida theater market is her uncanny ability to drag audiences on an emotional journey. That’s true of her performance in The Vagina Monologues, where she delivers a charming monologue about an adolescent who achieves sexual healing through the patience and tutelage of an older woman.

This particular skit has sparked outrage, numerous controversies and criticisms due to its content. In the original version she is 13, but later versions changed her age to 16. It also originally included the line, “If it was rape, it was a good rape”, which was removed from later versions.

The vignette is intriguing given that the majority of the monologues serve as strident condemnation of rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation. But to playwright Eve Ensler’s credit, she was willing to explore the parameters of rape, here in a same-sex minor/adult context in which alcohol is involved. And like Ensler, Canady doesn’t shy away from challenging or controversial roles. Even if that requires her to travel to emotional and intellectual vistas she’s never visited before.

Cantrella’s process involves finding that emotional connection with her character that is her sine qua non. “Then I need to know how I would feel if I were the person opposite my character,” she divulged in an interview this past December. Which means that to gain insight into her 16-year-old sexually abused character, she first had to identify with the 20-something woman who seduces her and teaches her what love can be with the right person and under the right circumstances – even if neither is right, correct or proper under society’s standards and norms.

The beauty of Canady’s performance is that it enables the audience to see that this particular monologue is not as much about rape as it is about the joy of healing and the redemption felt by victims of childhood sexual abuse and assault after years, sometime decades of internalized guilt. It takes a rare, patient partner – perhaps someone who’s suffered similar experiences – to alter the cycle of self-loathing and fear set in motion by childhood sexual abuse and repression.

And it takes a rare, meticulous actor to draw this dimension from a vignette like “The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could.”

If you’ve never seen Cantrella Canady perform, you’ll be blown away by her monologue in this most timely of all plays. And if you have enjoyed her in a past performance, you’ll be amazed at how this actor continues to grow theatrically by leaps and bounds. Either way, she’s one of 17 reason why you should take in Lab Theater’s production of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.

Stephanie Davis directs.

February 13, 2019.


Just a girl who likes to act, Cantrella Canady takes audiences on emotional journey

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