COLUMBIA — Struby Strubler, an MU Women’s Center adviser, wants to set the record straight about “The Vagina Monologues.”
“People who don’t like the monologues don’t understand what they’re about,” she said. “So we just tell them to come to the show.”
Students at MU and Stephens College will mark the 10th anniversary of V-Day Saturday and Sunday with benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues,” writer Eve Ensler’s collection of readings about women, sex, relationships, violence and empowerment.
V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls, supports local charities through money raised by thousands of performances of the monologues and other awareness-raising activities during February.
Performances in Columbia will be at 7 p.m. Saturday in Jesse Auditorium at MU and 1 and 5 p.m. Sunday at Windsor Auditorium on the Stephens College campus.
“I saw the performance my freshman year and it literally changed my life forever,” said MU student and cast member Lori Lammers.
Lammers and cast mate Jessica Johnson, also of MU, have been busy this week decorating the back of their scripts with red cutouts and glitter. They urge both men and women to come to the event for the message as well as the entertainment value.
The first V-Day took place in 1998 in New York City, with a celebrity performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” Performances now are typically held around the week of Valentine’s Day.
Two years after “The Vagina Monologues” opened to college performers, there was an unofficial performance in 2001 by four female students at a coffee shop in Columbia.
In 2002, the first official MU performance was put on in Conservation Auditorium. After multiple sell-out shows, the production expanded to Jesse Hall.
“This is our seventh year, and our over-arching goal is to stop violence against women and girls,” Strubler said. “We give all of our proceeds to The Shelter and The LEAD Institute.”
The first performance on the Stephens campus took place in 2003 and has made The Shelter its prime beneficiary each year.
“We are in our sixth year,” said Stephens’ organizer Samantha Allison, who hopes to raise more than $1,000.
“We have yet to have any resistance on campus to the graphic nature of the monologues, and our faculty is nothing but supportive of women’s rights and awareness of violence toward women.”
MU organizers believe it is important to educate the cast during rehearsals about the issues in the play. Last year the theme was human trafficking; this year’s focus is violence toward women on the Gulf Coast.
The sessions are playfully referred to as “vagication.”
“I always learn something and it’s usually something horrific. It really opens your eyes,” Johnson said.
The MU performance costs $8 for students and $12 for the public. Stephens is asking for a minimum $5 donation. For more information on V-Day and other performances nationwide go to v-day.org.