V-Day Orpheum: area women share thoughts on Feb. 16 premiere of ‘The Vagina Monologues’
On February 16, the IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center will hold the Marshalltown premiere of the award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues in the Orpheum black box theater. The episodic play is based on V-Day founder/playwright Eve Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. Fifteen women from the area have chosen to participate. They all have their own reasons for taking part in this powerful production, but the central theme is the same: women and girl empowerment.
“The V-Day journey is one that I have wanted to take for some time,” says Linda True, one of the many women participating in the V-Day production. “However, small-town Iowa doesn’t often offer that opportunity. When Pip Gordon mentioned to me last summer that she was considering doing this project, I immediately knew that I wanted to be a part of it. I was lucky—I grew up in a household where I was empowered and told that I could do or be anything. It wasn't until I hit "reality", in college and working as an adult, that I realized that women sometimes were limited due to being...women. And, being a person who never likes to have limitations placed on her, I have pushed against the idea of subservience of women. But V-Day is more than that. It is giving a voice to women who have been told they are nothing, and treated as less than nothing. It is telling the story of women who have persisted, risen up, survived and given their quiet strength back to all women. That strength humbles me, a loud, boisterous feminist, and compels me to take this journey with them.”
For more than 12 years, The Vagina Monologues has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public.
“I have seen three productions of The Vagina Monologues and found it to be amazing each time,” says Karen Lischer, one of the women involved in the production and the person who first approached the Orpheum to produce the play. “I have wanted to see it produced in Marshalltown for several years and finally it will be. My mom was my inspiration to participate in the show. She always encouraged me to be independent and strong. I became a feminist because of her and have tried throughout my life to help women better themselves and feel good about themselves. When people see this show they will come away with a new respect for the women in their lives who have influenced them.”
For many women, this play and its themes hit very close to home.
“I come from a long line of sisters and I have two daughters, myself,” says V-Day performer and MCC professor, Sally Wilson. “Too many among my family and friends have experienced sexual assault, mental and physical abuse, and discrimination and oppression due to their genders or sexual preferences. I long to see an end to injustice in general, but particularly injustice toward women. I am grateful to have this opportunity to raise awareness and educate others about the prevalence of violence and abuse toward women. It is a privilege and an honor, plus it is terrific fun to work with this great group of gorgeous women!”
At the end of the play, each of the participants will be a part of the ‘One Billion Rising’ where each of them will explain why they rise. “I plan to say, “I rise for my family members, past, present and future. I rise because my grandmother was a victim of sexual assault. I rise because my mother was a victim of sexual assault. I rise because my sisters were victims of sexual assault. I rise because I was a victim of sexual assault. I rise because my daughter was a victim of sexual assault. I rise because no one should be a victim of sexual assault and everyone should work to end this crisis,” says participant Shawn Larson. Larson works as a sexual assault response team coordinator at Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center (DVA/SAC) in Marshalltown.
Through this play and the liberation of this one word, countless women throughout the world have taken back control of their bodies and their lives.
“I was motivated to get involved because this dramatic performance shares actual stories from women of all ages around the world,” says V-Day performer Sue Martin. “It relates how they feel and what they have experienced regarding their sexuality and in this way creates a forum for all women to identify with each other. It also demonstrates the power that women themselves can access by owning their personal sexuality. The V-Day performances are at times funny and sad, serious and light hearted, and they are all true to the universal female experience.”
Performances are set for Saturday, Feb. 16, at 2 pm and 7:30 pm, and Sunday, Feb. 17, at 2 pm. Tickets are $12 and all proceeds go to the Domestic Violence Alternatives/Sexual Assault Center. For more information go to www.OrpheumCenter.com.
“To me, this production is about breaking barriers and honoring survival,” says V-Day performer Pam Swarts. “It’s funny, gutsy, compassionate and very liberating. Any woman who has survived a crisis and risen above it will feel gratified by participating in this event. The men in their lives will learn much as well!”
This project is an Orpheum Performance Series production and is funded in part by a generous grant from the Martha-Ellen Tye Foundation, individual and corporate contributors. The Orpheum Theater Center is owned and operated by the Iowa Valley Community College District.