UCSC does annual ‘Vagina Monologues’ production
In honor of “V-Day,” UC Santa Cruz's production of “The Vagina Monologues,” written by Eve Ensler, ran March 11-13 with the aim of bringing awareness to issues facing women around the world.
V-Day is a global activist movement that has raised more than $75 million since 1998 to support organizations working to stop violence against women and girls including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery. In 2010, more than 5,400 V-Day benefit events took place worldwide including performances, screenings of related films and workshops.
UCSC theater majors Kat Besse and Kathryn Wahlberg co-directed this year's production and say that their hope was to get people talking about the messages behind the show.
“Its never considered acceptable to talking about what a vagina looks like and feels like or what it does,” says student Kathryn Wahlberg, who has worked with the show at UCSC for the past three years. “When we do talk about it people get excited or offended or even weirded out ... which can all be good things in my book, as long as its talked about.”
This year's monologues concluded with a touching spotlight focused on the tragedy and hardship facing the women and girls of Haiti following last year's devastating earthquake, which left 316,000 dead and 1.6 million homeless.
Ensler wrote the new monologue in memorandum of the Chief of Staff of the Ministry for Women in Haiti, Myriam Merlet. Merlet, who through her dedicated work first brought the V-Day movement to Haiti in 2001, died in the earthquake in Port Au Prince.
"[Myriam] was one of the most humble, devoted, committed, brilliant, loving women. She was a revolutionary and a visionary and had the hugest heart ... And now, all of us must commit ourselves to Haiti, to women, to their future with all our hearts," Ensler stated on the V-Day website, vday.org.
Ten percent of the proceeds from this year's production will go to relief efforts in Haiti with the rest going to local Santa Cruz organizations dealing with issues such as domestic violence and rape, Women's Crisis Support/Defensa de Mujeres and Survivors Healing Center.
Kat says that even in a traditionally very open and accepting environment like Santa Cruz people are often confused about the purpose and spirit of the show.
“Sometimes people ask me, are men allowed to come [to the show]? And, of course they are! This is not about bringing down men, its about lifting up women,” says Besse.
While V-Day rules stipulate that males are not allowed in the cast or to direct the show, this year for the first time UCSC's production had a male team member—show Producer Chris Waters.
“It's really opened my eyes to a lot—the girls are speaking from the heart and really made it their own,” says Waters.
The show, which ran for three performances, brought in audiences upwards of 250 people to the Stevenson Events Center on campus.
“Its an amazing opportunity to get people thinking and talking about the issues,” says Besse. “To get them to open up and shout ‘cunt’ with us.”
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