Armed with a unified voice, a mission and a theatrical stage, women at CSU and across the nation are proclaiming a war on violence.
As part of a weeklong event known as V-Day, Eve Ensler's "The Vagina Monologues" performances begin tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Lory Student Center Theater. Ticket sales for the performances are intended to raise funds for victims' assistance programs such as the Fort Collins SAVA (Sexual Assault Victim Advocate) Center, 331 S. Meldrum St.
CSU's SAVE, or Students Assisting Victims and Evacuees, and Hartshorn Health Services Based on Life Theatre are sponsoring the play, intended as a women's advocacy event.
"We're saving the world one vagina at a time," said play Director Courtney Ellison, repeating the cast motto for this year's CSU's production of "The Vagina Monologues." "I don't think there's many women that wouldn't feel liberated."
Coinciding with Valentine's Day, Feb. 14 is the official day for V-Day, a non-profit grass roots movement dedicated to ending violence against women. In addition to theatrical performances, V-Day also spearheads benefits, films and campaigns, attracting millions of women's advocates, including Oprah Winfrey and Melissa Etheridge.
Since it's founding in 1997 and after the book release of "The Vagina Monologues," the V-Day mission has spread across 300 college universities around the United States, where students and others are invited to volunteer as performers in the adapted play. Collectively, the monologues are based on interviews with more than 200 women.
"It's a lot of celebration about the qualities we possess, but it's also about the hardships we endure as women," said 18-year-old Diana Perez, a freshman open-option seeking business major. Perez will be performing a monologue in tribute to the more than 300 women who, over the past 10 years, have gone missing or have been murdered in Juarez, Mexico.
What started in the basement of downtown New York's Cornelia Street Cafe, "The Vagina Monologues" has become not only a worldwide famous book and hit play, but also a huge inspiration, sparking a modern women's movement to end abuse.
Despite the mature atmosphere, the play attracts all ages, men and women, Ellison said, who cast her 14-year-old niece in the show.
But it's not all tears, sex and violence. Punching out lines like, "If my vagina could wear clothing, what would it wear?" Alanna Sherstad, executive director of SAVA in Fort Collins, said the monologues are a perfect balance between humor and seriousness.
"Girls in society are taught to be very quiet," Sherstad said. "(The play) is a good way to bring the word 'vagina' out into the open without so much shame surrounding it."
Jenny Ivy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org