Monologues linked to sexual abuse, war

Monologues linked to sexual abuse, war

By Hailey Hudson

Billions of dollars are being poured into war. Thousands of people have died, and even more have been affected. This week, women around the globe are joining together and “Reclaiming Peace.”

Northeastern students are contributing to this cause through performances of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” as part of the university’s seventh annual V-week celebration. This year’s theme is “Reclaiming Peace.” Northeastern’s 18-member cast has been rehearsing since early January to bring the performances to students.

Maylin Murphy, a senior theatre major and co-director of this year’s rendition of the “Monologues,” said the connection between armed conflicts and violence against women is important.

“We need to counter war with peace,” she said. “We need to end violence against women and girls. This is exactly what we are trying to do.”

Murphy said the overall goal of the monologues is to bring peace to women around the world. She said it is a challenging objective, which may not be accomplished during the performers’ lifetimes.

“The whole point is to keep going,” Murphy said. “The more education and awareness we have out there, the greater the chance of stopping the violence.”

One of the monologues, “My Vagina Was My Village,” discusses the trials of a woman in a conflict zone in Africa, and touches on the practice of female genital mutilation.

“So many people were in shock when they learned that this went on,” said Vanessa Smith-Torres, a third-year theatre major and cast member.

The monologue is one of many moments of vulnerability that will affect audiences, Murphy said.

“The most powerful part of the play is from start to finish,” she said. “There is a desperate want and desire from the girls to be there. The truth they convey is so powerful.”

As part of the university’s V-week festivities, the performance is meant to raise awareness about women who have been victims of sexual and physical abuse. The “Reclaiming Peace” theme is meant to combine efforts to fight violence against women with a stance against armed conflicts around the globe, according to www.Vday.org.

“We are saying that if a government supports the use of force, weapons, violence as a method of control and dominance, this models and gives license to the same kind of behavior at home,” said Ensler, author of “The Vagina Monologues,” on the website. Ensler founded V-Day in 1998, the centerpiece of Northeastern’s V-Week, to bring a focus to these issues every Valentine’s Day.

The play is based on interviews Ensler did with more than 200 women. Inspired by their stories of abuse and violence, she wrote a portrayal of their struggles and survival, which has raised more than $35 million around the world for female victims of abuse.

While some might think memorizing complex monologues is the hardest part of the process, Smith-Torres said the biggest challenge was accepting the truth behind their stories.

“The hardest part is wrapping your head around the fact that these are stories of real women,” she said. “We want to do justice for these women.”

Ana Holly, co-director of the play and a senior theatre major, said women should look to “The Vagina Monologues” as a source of strength.

“This is a truthful, passionate production,” Holly said. “It’s not just about a screaming vagina; these are real stories and real women. This cause makes a difference. Women need this.”

All proceeds from the performances will be donated to charity; 10 percent will be given directly to Ensler’s V-Day charity and 90 percent will be given to Boston-based women’s charities like Elizabeth Stone House and Rosie’s Place.

This year’s production of “The Vagina Monologues” will be Feb. 15 and 16 at 8 p.m, in Blackman Auditorium. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the Northeastern box office. For more information on this year’s V-Day campaign, visit www.Vday.org.

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