Performance shares stories of global women’s issues

by Student Writer Wendie Robinson

UNA students and faculty will perform Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. in the Guillot University Performance Center.

“The Vagina Monologues” is a play based on interviews Ensler conducted with women addressing such concerns as women’s sexuality, rape and abuse.

Student tickets went on sale Feb. 1 at the Women’s Center for $4 at pre-performance price. Tickets at the door will be $5 for students and $7 for anyone else wishing to attend.

On Valentine’s Day, 1998, Ensler, along with a group of women in New York City, started V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. The day promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of existing anti-violence organizations.

“V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sex slavery,” according to the website.

Each year, Ensler adds new monologues to the play addressing current global situations, said Coordinator for the Center for Women’s Studies Emily Kelley.

This year’s UNA performance features new pieces including “Myriam,” “The Memory of Her Face,” and “My Revolution Begins in the Body,” Kelley said.

“(Myriam) is about Myriam Murlet who was an activist in Haiti who died in the earthquake,” she said. “She really brought women’s rights and activism to Haiti.”

“The Memory of Her Face” is about a woman whose husband throws acid in her face, Kelley said.

Kelley said she wants people to realize the Monologues are about more than just addressing female concerns.

“It’s just so empowering,” she said. “That’s the one word I want to get across to women, but also to men. It will open them up, it will make them more comfortable, it will encourage more communication between men and women and it will make them laugh.”

Music Library Specialist and Vocal faculty Eleanor McClellan, who is part of the cast, said growing up she would not even say the word “vagina,” but feels the message is important and something people of all genders need to hear.

“What I get out of it is an opening of myself,” she said. “When I was a young woman I wouldn’t have said a curse word, wouldn’t have said anything about my body or anything else. It is learning to love who you are totally and hopefully to step out and allow others to see that as well.”

Kelley said she urges students to come regardless of the subject matter.

“There’s so much I would like to say about it,” Kelley said. “(Mostly) in terms of really getting people to come out to support this and not think it is something that it isn’t and not get embarrassed for wanting to go.”

There are many important parts hidden in the “Monologues,” and students would be made more aware of the injustices women face by seeing the performance, said sophomore Molly Ratliff.

Ratliff said she participated in the program last year and is acting in it again this semester.

“I would love for students to walk away with a greater (understanding) for women,” she said. “The first step is understanding. “The next step is taking a stand.”

Sociology Department Chair Yaschica Williams said the “Monologues” mean respect and empowerment to her.

“Hearing the voices of women who would otherwise be silent is a humbling experience,” she said. “There is nothing left untouched by the ‘Monologues’ as it relates violence against women to sexuality, relationships and what many would perceive as more taboo topics.”