V-Day in Whistler 

Vagina Monologues makes Whistler debut

What: The Vagina Monologues presented by Between Shifts Theatre

Where: Millennium Place

When: Friday, March 1

V-Day has finally arrived.

"The Vagina Monologues is about celebrating women, as well as being aware of the situations that women have to face. It's education with humour, so it has everything," says Dianne Fox, co-founder of Pearl's Place Transition House in Squamish. Pearl's Place will be the beneficiary of the Between Shifts Theatre Company's Whistler performance of Eve Ensler's award-winning play.

The Vagina Monologues tackles two taboo subjects: women's sexuality, and violence committed against women. Tickets for the Whistler show sold out in 24 hours at Millennium Place box office.

"The Vagina Monologues is a gateway to a lot of issues (surrounding women's experience)," says Between Shifts' Gillie Easdon, who reads from Because He Liked to Look at It.

Discussion of issues is the goal. In interviews for the play, Ensler consistently emphasizes that her goal with The Vagina Monologues is to get people to talk.

"I'm really interested in what women think is beautiful, what part of their bodies they don't like, and why," Ensler says on her Web site.

Her 'V-Day' marketing campaign emphasizes both local and global themes. She is concerned with exposing the problem of domestic abuse and abuse that happens elsewhere, as in the torture of women in Afghanistan.

When women's sexuality is onstage, things get heated.

"Some people are uncomfortable about the piece, based on what they think the show is about," observes Easdon.

"This is not a man-bashing play. It just so happens that some men have done some terrible things to women. It certainly doesn't mean all men, and there will be some men in the audience."

That discussion includes what it means to be a victim of violence. Not an easy issue, but a real issue that requires services to be in place in the surrounding community.

"Pearl's Place provides a service for women and children who are experiencing abuse and need to leave the situation," says Fox. "Assisting these groups has been my work for 12 years, and we're so thankful that Eve Ensler gave us the rights to the play, that was huge for me!

"This campaign helps raise awareness of this problem of violence against women, and how serious it is," adds Fox.

Kathy Daniels, co-founder of Between Shifts Theatre in Squamish, says because the Vagina Monologues is a play, rather than a film, it has more impact.

"Theatre is a bit more dangerous, if I can use that word. There's an immediacy there that doesn't exist with a film audience," says Daniels, whose career in the performing arts has included both fields.

Actors, seated on a row of stools across the stage, sit and read from scenes like If Your Vagina Could Talk, What Would it Say?

"In a theatre situation, audiences are up close to the sweat and the spit of a production. There is greater exposure in a live situation, where audiences really become part of the show like the Monologues," adds Daniels.

As part of the fund-raiser a silent auction will be held before the show.

"Our fund-raising goal is $10,000 with the auction and ticket proceeds, which we think is feasible," says Susan Hutchinson. "Local businesses have donated items, including art donated by Tess Klein and dance lessons by Trina Eby. And we are still looking for auction material.

For information or for businesses wishing to donate silent auction items call Easdon at Millennium Place at 604-935-8410. Cash or cheque only for auction bids.

V-Day Notes

What: Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues is series of first-person vignettes that highlight women's experience.

History: In 1998, Ensler presented the show in New York City and in 1999 in London. Glenn Close, Cate Blanchett, Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie Perez, Lily Tomlin, Kate Winslett, Melanie Griffith and Calista Flockhart are some of the women involved with the project. Ensler's second play, Necessary Targets, was a benefit for Bosnian women who are refugees.

Campaign: The 'V-day Campaign' culminates in performances in over 300 cities world-wide between Feb. 14 and March 14. V-Day refers to Vagina Day, anti-Violence Day, Victory Day, according to Ensler. Fund-raising proceeds from the show go to a local organization in each city that assists in increasing awareness about domestic violence or assists women in transition, in addition to the international cause of the plight of women in Afghanistan.

The show can only be performed one time in a given town or venue between Feb. 14 and March 14.

The play has been performed in more than a dozen countries in Africa, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Asia.

Pear's Place Transition House 24-hour emergency line 1-800-892-5711

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