‘Vagina monologues’ helps educate about violence

Kristen Grimmer

Last weekend “The Vagina Monologues” was performed for the second time at Washburn University.

The play, directed by Sharon Sullivan, assistant professor in the Theatre department, ran for three days and was performed by a mix of students and community members.

“The Vagina Monologues” were originally written by Eve Ensler as a set of stories from interviews she had conducted with women. The play was first performed Feb. 14, 1998 in New York City.

From the play the global movement, V-Day, was created to end violence towards women.

Each year Ensler writes a new monologue to be performed along with the others as a way to support V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign.

This year the 2009 Spotlight Campaign is working to help the women and girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sullivan said 90 percent of the proceeds from the play will go to the local YWCA Battered Women Task Force and the other 10 percent will go to V-Day’s Spotlight Campaign.

Sullivan also said this play is a way for women here to do something to help those in Topeka and in the Democratic Republic of Congo who have been victims of violence.

Brenda Blackman, a student at Washburn and stage manager for “The Vagina Monologues,” said she felt the play was a way to help educate the community on the violence happening in the Congo and that the support the production would give to the Battered Women Task Force would be a great help.

“I think when you’re doing that kind of work every penny counts. A lot of the victims need things like appliances and basic hygiene products,” Blackman said.

Nicole Macmillan, community coordinator for the Battered Women Task Force of Topeka, said that “The Vagina Monologues” was an important event for them.

“The statistics for women who are victims across the country is 1 in 4 and in the college scene it’s 1 in 3. Here at the Battered Women Task Force we service 2,000 women each year,” said Macmillan.

Macmillan also said that through working with Washburn University to put these performances together the Battered Women Task Force would have a chance to become more visible to the community and to let people know that there is a place victims can get help.

The focus of the play was empowering women and helping them to feel comfortable with their bodies along with providing awareness on the current situation in the Congo.

Sullivan said the play helped to take the mysticism out of women’s bodies and helped them celebrate who they are.

The monologues included a wide range of stories from women who had been raped to those who were transgendered. Both comical and serious moments kept the audience between laughter and tears until the end where Ensler extended a call to action to stop the femicide and mass rape of women and girls in the Congo in the last monologue.

The 2009 performances of “The Vagina Monologues” were dedicated to Jana Mackey, a 25-year-old KU student, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in July, 2008 in Lawrence, Kan.

Mackey had been a long-time volunteer in helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. A national campaign called The Eleven Hundred Torches was established in her name.