It started with a play. Now, “The Vagina Monologues,” is much more; it has come a long way from being housed at small theatres and cafes, and has morphed into a global movement, called V-Day, aimed at ending violence against women and girls. The play has been translated into over 45 languages, has won various awards, and has the support of celebrity spokeswomen and sponsors (dubbed the vulva choir) helping to transform the dreaded v-word-vagina-into one that has become synonymous with empowerment, as opposed to shame.Since 1999, as part of the V-Dday campaign, many colleges and universities annually host a production of the “Vagina Monologues,” and donate the proceeds to charity. West Chester University will be hosting its 9th annual production this year and is donating its proceeds to three organizations: Women to Women International (WWI), The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC), and the Crimes Victims’ Center of Chester County (CVC.

WWI focuses on women and girls in war-torn countries and tries to provide them with the necessary skills to function in their societies. The DVCCC helps local women overcome domestic violence with various outreach programs. The CVC is another local organization that provides support and free services to Chester County residents that have been victims of crime and to anyone that has been a victim of crime while in Chester County.

Each year, there is a V-Day spotlight campaign that focuses on a particular region or country. Last year the spotlight was on survivors of Hurricane Katrina. This year’s spotlight is titled, “Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power To the Women and Girls of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).”

The spotlight monologue, “Baptized,” will focus on the plight of Congolese women and is a new addition to the twelve monologues performed during the show.

In a letter posted on vday.org, Eve Ensler, the author of “Vagina Monologues” writes, “I urge you to fight with all your heart and to find your connection to the women of the DRC as you have found your connection to the women of New Orleans and Iraq and Juarez and Afghanistan, and the other places V-Day brings us.”

She goes on to add, “It is in our connection and solidarity that we will find our freedom and power.”

WCU student Jenn Halligan, the stage manager and the publicity & finances coordinator for the show, expressed a similar sentiment, “It’s necessary for women to see what’s going on in their towns, but in the world as well.”

The actors, crew, directors Kelsey Stocum and Jennifer Rothstein, head coordinator Rebekah Balmer, and the Women’s Center worked very hard to make this production possible.

“Everyone involved is very passionate about [the play] and doesn’t take it lightly,” said Halligan.

“No matter what walk of life you come from, there is at least one monologue you can relate to. When the audience leaves the production, they take the monologue with them.”

The “Vagina Monologues” will be performed at the Emilie K. Asplundh Hall on April 4 at 7 p.m. and April 5 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $ 5 for WCU students and others with valid ID. Tickets for the public are $10. Tickets may be purchased at the SSI in Sykes, calling 610-436-2984, or at the door.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and in addition to the play, the Women’s Center is hosting other activities that combat this theme.

“The Clothesline Project” is a visual display that pays tribute to women who have been victims of sexual assault and is being held April 6&7, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. in Sykes Ballroom A & the Academic Quad.

“Take Back the Night!” a rally, march, and speak-out will be held on April 8 beginning at 7 p.m. on the front steps of Sykes. For more information about these events, call the Women’s Center at (610) 436-2122.

For additional information about “The Vagina Monologues,” or V-Day, email Rebekah Balmer at wcuvaginamonologues@gmail.com

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