Welcome to V-Season: ‘The Vagina Monologues’ Fundraisers for Local Organizations

%28Courtesy+Salt+Lake+Acting+Company%29+

(Courtesy Salt Lake Acting Company)

By Hannah Keating, Arts Writer

 

“Welcome to V-Season” flashes in red on the homepage of the V-Day organization’s website. The “V” referred to here is not necessarily what we usually associate with the middle of February — there are no Valentine’s cards or red hearts here, only a proclamation to end violence against women and girls across the globe. Instead, according to the V-Day webpage, “The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.”

This movement started with the production of a play. Published in 1996, Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues” is one of the most powerful theatre pieces from the turn of the century. It discusses life through the eyes of a vagina-owning person, documenting sexual encounters, menstruation, body image, consent, reproduction, sex work and more. The play’s impact extends beyond its successful run in New York theatre — Ensler created the non-profit V-Day to promote awareness and raise money across communities with productions of, or readings from, “The Vagina Monologues.”

Emma Thompson is the President of the V-Day Club from Westminster College here in Salt Lake City, and for this V-Season, she has organized two “The Vagina Monologues” events. “The goal of the movement is to reduce violence, but locally and personally it is to invest in the resources that have helped our community in multiple ways,” she said. This is why the SLC events are raising money for the Rape Recovery Center and the University of Utah’s Women’s Health Center.

(Courtesy Cat Taylor)

The V-Day club at Westminster has been established for nearly a decade, putting on events in conjunction with the global organization. Though the planning work is long and hard, Thompson is completely committed to the movement in our community.  “Something I love about this project is the payoff,” she said. “Every year I work my ass off with my team of extraordinary people and I am always thinking, ‘Why do I give 110% to this?’ Then every single year, I get a new why. A new fire in my gut.”

Events like this aren’t designed solely for entertainment or fundraising, but also for public education and social change. Thompson said she’s witnessed a transformation in others and within herself as a result of V-Day and “The Vagina Monologues” events.

“I will have someone come to me and tell me that because of this event, they feel strong enough to report their assault,” she said. “Or someone starts crying and starts to process something traumatic that has happened to them. Or a very misogynistic man starts the show saying and viewing those with vaginas as one thing, then comes away from the show with ‘a lot to think about.’”

Following her own sexual assault and recovery, she worked on her first production of these shows. “This show saved me. Reminded me that I wasn’t broken or soiled. It informed me that I wasn’t alone which was both disturbing and comforting all at the same time.

“I found a community that lifted me from a very dark place. Without this show, I don’t think I would be here today. I hope it can continue to save countless others, vagina-owning or not.”

As a last call to a community who needs to hear the voices of women and witness the work of organizations that support them, Thompson leaves one last thought on V-Day, V-Season and women. She said “The Vagina Monologues” “puts something that is somewhat taboo and puts humanity back to them. They are not just a nature pocket that can get stuff shoved into them — they are magical, complicated, beautiful organs that are marginalized against.”

The fundraiser for the Rape Recovery Center is going on at Westminster from Feb. 13-15, featuring a silent auction, vendors and the show. The fundraising event for the Women’s Resource Center will be at Salt Lake Acting Company on Feb. 24-25, featuring a pre-show party at the theater before the performance. 

 

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