Calgary Sun: "Monologues Speak Out for Women"
By Lisa Wilton
The Vagina Monologues is more than a play -- it's become a virtual phenomenon.
Big Apple playwright Eve Ensler's groundbreaking show has boasted a rotating cast of celebrities -- which is part of the reason for its spectacular success -- since it debuted four years ago.
More importantly, however, it a now globally recognized movement called V-Day.
V-Day's mission is to eradicate all violence towards women and girls, including rape, incest, sexual slavery and female genital mutilation.
A portion of proceeds from each Vagina Monologues performance -- including international ones -- sees that anti-violence groups get help in battling these horrific crimes.
"Partnered with The Vagina Monologues, V-Day allows anti-violence organizations access to grant money that they might otherwise not be able to get," explains Lauren Horn, managing director of V-Day and co-founder of www.feminist.com.
Calgary's YWCA Family Violence Prevention Centre and Sheriff King Home will benefit from V-Day, thanks to a local production of The Vagina Monologues starting tomorrow night.
Although final figures won't be released until February, the Sheriff King Home may receive up to $5,000 from the foundation.
V-Day began in 1998 when Ensler joined a group of New York feminists to brainstorm ideas on how to end violence against women.
The actual V-Day date -- in which money is distributed to previously earmarked organizations -- is Feb. 14. It's surrounded by a variety of cultural and theatre events, usually culminating in a star-studded benefit performance of Monologues.
Last year, the V-Day foundation raised more than $3 million and staged its biggest fundraiser at New York's Madison Square Garden.
Dozens of celebrities and performers -- including Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, Glenn Close, Julia Stiles and Edie Falco -- turned out to support and perform a special production of The Vagina Monologues.
"Eve's head is spinning (because of the success)," says Horn.
"She is one of the few anti-violence practitioners who truly believes violence against women can be stopped. But she also knows there's a lot more work to be done."
Because so many women are battered and violated each day, Horn says working for the foundation is more than a full-time job.
"You go to bed thinking about it," she says. "Thinking about how much more we need to do."
But Horn is encouraged when she hears stories of V-Day-assisted achievements.
One such accomplishment is a safehouse that has been set up in Narok, Kenya, to house girls trying to escape genital mutilation.
"There's so many beautiful stories out there, so it's not all bad for us."
The Vagina Monologues, starring Calgary singer-songwriter Jann Arden, Amy Love and Tracy A. Leigh, begins tomorrow night and runs through Sept. 1, 2001 at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.
Lisa Wilton can be reached at LISA.WILTON@CAL.SUNPUB.COM