Eccles Center to host ‘Vagina Monologues’
February 23, 2010
Forget chocolate-covered strawberries and bottles of bubbly. V-Day is all about making a difference.
Twelve years ago, a burgeoning playwright and performer named Eve Ensler arrived at the Eccles Center’s blue box theatre to polish her one-woman show, "The Vagina Monologues," as part of a live theatre portion of the Sundance Film Festival.
The initiative didn’t last as part of the festival, but Ensler’s work did. The play went on to become one of the most debated and discussed theater experiences of the 1990s.
Its legacy continues today with worldwide performances and V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women. The ‘V’ stands for victory, valentine and vagina.
Each year since 2006, the Park City Performing Arts Foundation (PCPAF) has presented a locals’ rendition of "The Vagina Monologues." Its fifth annual performance will take place this Sunday, Feb. 28, at 7:30 p.m. at the Eccles Center and proceeds will benefit the Park City Peace House women’s shelter.
"The Vagina Monologues" consists of a varying number of monologues drawn from Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women relating to sex, love, embarrassment, cruelty, pain, and pleasure.
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The show can be performed by a small cast, with each performer delivering several monologues, or by a larger cast, with one monologue per person.
The script remains the same over time, but each year a spotlight monologue is added to bring awareness to a global issue. The spotlight for 2010 draws attention to the plight of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to Teri Orr, executive director of PCPAF, the Park City performance will feature 16 women (tentatively) and at least as many monologues. The monologues are not necessarily lengthy pieces, she notes, as many of them last under a couple minutes.
Orr, who will be participating in the performance herself, assembled the cast for this year’s production by asking friends and women in the community if they were interested. Some have a background in theatre and others have very little or no experience on stage.
"I love the whole idea about how it’s not a polished performance," says Lisa Needham, a local musician and yoga instructor who studied theatre and acting in college. "It’s real people and the subject matter’s very real."
Needham says she’s been interested in performing in "Monologues" since seeing Ensler speak at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004. "I got to watch her front row and I just became a huge fan," she says.
She’s also working on her own one-woman show. Needless to say, she jumped at the chance to join the production for the first time. "It’s right up my alley," she says. "It made me rethink theatre. You don’t have to be an accomplished actor or actress to perform something on stage."
Jenny Knaak, the artist liaison for PCPAF, has participated in the local production every year. "I think it’s really wonderful that it’s local women," she says. "Most of them are not actors, so this is something outside their comfort zone, but they’re doing it because they believe in raising awareness and money for domestic violence, and I think that’s a really special and incredible thing."
One hundred percent of the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward ending violence against women. The Peace House will receive 90 percent and the remainder will go to the international V-Day movement, Orr says.
Jane Patten, executive director of the Peace House, says the annual event is important for reasons beyond its fundraising power. "It does raise money, and we are very pleased about that, but it’s more than that," she says. "It’s the community involvement that is so spectacular. It’s that real feeling of women coming together to help women."
Patten emphasized that domestic violence is a serious issue in the current economic climate and that it does happen on a local level. In the past year, the organization has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of women and children staying at the shelter as well as the number of calls on its 24-hour hotline from people seeking information or asking for help.
Ticket prices for "The Vagina Monologues" range from $15 to $30 (ticket discounts are not available for this fundraising event). To purchase tickets, call 655-3114 or visit http://www.ecclescenter.org . For more information about the global V-Day movement, visit http://www.vday.org .