Leading ladies take to the stage for V-Day
Tonight, in honor of V-day, Park City’s leading ladies take to the Eccles Center stage to revive the roles of Eve Ensler’s Tony Award-winning "The Vagina Monologues."
The play bundles a variety of tales about women by women that tackle the delicate, heartbreaking and often humorous side of the "fair sex." Some parts oblige the actresses to explain the hard truths of gender inequalities, and abuse others stick to lighter topics about love, sex and the trickier parts about being a woman.
Recalling the Eccles Center’s inaugural performance last year, Park City Performing Arts Foundation Executive Director Teri Orr says that despite the focus on women, by the end of the night audience members of both sexes "learned a lot and laughed a lot."
"It’s for men and women," she stressed. "The men are often surprised at how much of the evening is just plain funny."
This year, Orr recruited PCPAF artist liason Jenny Knaak, Eastern Summit County Planning Commissioner Diane Murphy, Park City Affordable Housing Director Phyllis Robinson, Park City Councilwoman Candy Erickson, Panic Button Media owner Katie Eldridge, and local realtor and former councilwoman Ann MacQuoid to read on stage. In addition, The Saliva Sisters, a Utah girl group known for their musical satire with songs like "Stairway to Nordstroms," inspired by Led Zeppelin’s "Stairway to Heaven."
While actresses are not required to memorize any lines, reading the roles can be demanding, Orr admits.
"I begged them," she confesses, half in jest, adding, "It’s fun, but this isn’t easy. You really go through a lot just reading."
Ensler gave the play an organic structure, allowing new pieces to be added, and others subtracted to keep the topics fresh. According to Orr, the playwright’s new addition this year is "The Memory of Her Faith" which discusses women in Baghdad and Islamabad.
The performance at the Eccles, and at theaters throughout the country, celebrates V-Day, a holiday originally intended to coincide with Valentine’s Day that the playwright started to raise awareness of violence against women. In exchange for the rights to the play, proceeds from "Vagina Monologue" V-Day shows must be donated to a local charity. This year, like last year’s inaugural performance, the Eccles Center’s profits from the evening will go to the local women’s shelter, The Peace House.
Babs De Lay, Salt Lake realtor and KRCL radio host for a women in music program is the ringleader behind many of the Utah performances that will open in concert with one another throughout the month. Not only will she be on stage tonight to read, but within the next few weeks, she will be overseeing eight shows along the Wasatch Front from Weber State University to Westminster to Salt Lake Community College.
In the last six years De Lay has been involved, she estimates the Utah shows combined have raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars within Utah for nonprofits that promote and protect the safety of women.
De Lay first learned of Ensler’s play when a friend unexpectedly asked her to join the Broadway tour in Salt Lake.
"Some friends of mine were running the Broadway show and called and said ‘Roma Downy from touched by an Angel has a conflict, could you do this?’ And I thought, they were kidding?" she remembers.
"I was terrified, because I thought I had to perform nude or I had to memorize something It ran for 10 days with totally sold-out shows and it was a wonderful experience and then the next year, we started doing the nonprofit production."
Like Orr, De Lay insists that while the stage remains women-only, the play is for both sexes.
"It’s got lots of tears, lots of laughs and lots of information and everyone has fun in the audience men should not be scared," she says. "And the end result is that a shelter gets the proceeds."
The Eccles Center’s "Vagina Monologues" raised $2,000 for The Peace House last winter, according to the organization’s executive director Jane Patten.
"These types of events not only provide us some income, but beyond that, one of the very best things is awareness," she said. "I think that very, very often people would be surprised that there’s a women’s shelter in Park City, but domestic violence is an issue all over."
In addition to providing shelter services, the funds raised by tonight’s
"Vagina Monologues" will support The Peace House’s outreach and educational services such as Child Abuse Utah, a Utah State Board of Education-approved curriculum.
Patten looks forward to seeing the play again this year.
"It was very successful last year it had a lot of meaning to women in the community," Patten recalled. "I think some of the monologues are funny and some of them are very sad and poignant and that’s how women’s issues are. As women look at these sorts of things I think it gives them some new sense of understanding."
"The Vagina Monologues" will run tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Center for the Performing Arts (1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City). Tickets are $10 for general admission and $25 for reserved seating in the first eight rows of the theater. "The Vagina Monologues" is recommended for mature audiences, due to strong language. Proceeds from the V-Day event benefit The Peace House. For more information on The Peace House, visit http://www.thepeacehouse.com.
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