When the curtains parted Thursday night at the Lory Student Center Theatre, the audience attending "The Vagina Monologues" witnessed more than just an award-winning play; they experienced part of a movement that has been going on for more then a century.
"We (women) have come a long way since the women's movement in the early part of the century, but we still have a long way to go," said Deb Westcott, monologue actress and a psychotherapist specializing in women's issues, and a former professor of Women's Studies at CSU. "Issues like body image, equal pay and violence towards women are still huge issues that must be dealt with… this play brings some of those issues to light."
"The Vagina Monologues", a Broadway play written by Eve Ensler in 1998, focuses on women and centers on the issues of body image, sexuality and violence toward women.
The play is being preformed this week at CSU as part of a week-long celebration of V-Day, short for "Vagina Day," a day intended to raise awareness about violence toward women.
Some people, like Courtney Ellison, the director of the play, feel that there is not enough attention paid to violence toward women or women's issues in general.
"CSU and the community surrounding it need to focus more on the issues affecting women today. There are still issues that need to be addressed for all women," Ellison said. "This play really is great, in that it brings many issues out for discussion in a safe environment, allowing women to discover themselves in a safe environment."
Contrary to its name, "The Vagina Monologues" is not a female-only experience, Ellison said. Actress Katie Miller, a sophomore psychology major, seconded Ellison's opinion.
"It's important for everyone to understand that this performance is not about guy bashing, not at all," Miller said. "It's about women loving themselves, discovering themselves. I think men can really take away a lot of positive things from the performance, like understanding what it's like to grow up and live as a woman in our society. Women go through a lot of things that men just don't have to deal with, and this play really is a great education on what we do go through."
Proceeds from this week's performances will go directly to Larimer County's Sexual Assault Victims Advocacy Center or SAVA, and also benefit women in Iraq who are in crisis. Along with ticket proceeds, other items will be sold at the performances to raise money, including arm bands inscribed with "Viva La Vagina", along with t-shirts and other items.
Alana Sherstad, the executive director of the SAVA Center, is hoping that the performances can make a difference for the center and for those in crisis in the local community.
"We are hoping to raise somewhere around $8,000 from this performance, though we don't have any real idea of how much we will gain from the performance," Sherstad said. "Whatever we get will be better then nothing. The money we raise this weekend will most definitely make a huge difference for us in the coming year."
The SAVA Center plans to use the money garnered from the performance to help fund outreach programs at local high schools and institutions to raise awareness about violence and sexual assault, Sherstad said.
"The Vagina Monologues" will also have a performance on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theatre, and conclude with a final matinee performance on Sunday at 4 p.m., with an admission price of $7 for each performance.