The Varsity Theatre to present “The Vagina Monologues”

By Bethany Rentfro, Staff Reporter

“The Vagina Monologues” was written in 1994 and tells the stories of sexual assault and domestic violence survivors, as well as stories that advocate for the empowerment of women. 

The Women’s Center in Carbondale is sponsoring a production of “The Vagina Monologues” at the Varsity Theatre on Valentine’s Day weekend. 

The play was written by Eve Ensler, who conducted interviews with multiple different women as a way to raise awareness for these issues. 

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The show is now performed annually across the world as part of the global V-Day movement, which celebrates empowerment and works to end violence against women. 

The show continues to be updated by Ensler as society changes in order to keep up with the times. 

“The content of some of the monologues is related to domestic violence and just violence against women in general,” Emily Haymans-Cook, director of play, said. 

Haymans-Cook said the show is helping to raise money for the Women’s Center in Carbondale. 

“Every year, the beneficiary from the show has to be an organization that actively works to prevent or change violence against women,” Haymans-Cook said. 

The Women’s Center is an organization dedicated to providing women who are victims of sexual or domestic violence with the resources necessary for them to take charge of their lives, according to their website. 

Rachel Brenningmeyer, executive director for the Women’s Center, said she believes a show like the Vagina Monologues is very important. 

“We are coming off the height of the MeToo Movement and I think this is just our way to keep that fire burning here in Carbondale,” Brenningmeyer said. “We are just trying to reach out to the community, we are trying to unite the community.” 

According to a synopsis, “The Vagina Monologues” explores different types of consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, body image, menstrual periods, sex work and several other topics. 

The women in the show come from different ethnic backgrounds, ages, races and sexualities.

Haymans-Cook said she feels the show does a great job of being inclusive to all different types of women, including those from the LGBTQ community. 

“I have always felt the show does a pretty good job with representing the gay community because there are multiple monologues that deal with that,” Haymans-Cook said. “I think it does a lot of good every year, but I really hope that it will be updated to reflect more voices and […] represent them in a more complete way.” 

Lavinia Roberts, one of the cast members in the show, said she has been a part of the show multiple times and it has always spoken to her. 

Roberts said this show is meant to encourage people to have a more open dialogue about these issues affecting women. 

“I think sharing these stories is a good way for us to collectively ask ourselves these important questions about what we need to do to move forward as a society,” Roberts said. 

Haymans-Cook said that while the show deals with some very serious issues, it also has a level of humor and comedic relief to it as well. 

“The topics covered in this show range from having to go to the gynecologist every year to being a victim of rape as a tool of war,” Haymans-Cook said. “It is all about women healing and being angry, and being happy and celebrating themselves.” 

Both Roberts and Haymans-Cook said this show is about empowering women and it speaks to the ever-growing issue of victim shaming. 

“I think we should believe women when they come forward to share their stories,” Roberts said. “I think it is much better to believe someone and to have policies in place that support survivors of assault.” 

Haymans-Cook said they are looking for groups who would be willing to table before and after the show to give audience members some information. 

The Women’s Center will also have a table set up with information about sexual assault, domestic violence and the services they provide. 

“We provide services to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and their non-offending family members,” Brenningmeyer said. “We offer free counseling, and free advocacy.” 

“The Vagina Monologues” will be showing Feb. 15 and 16 at the Varsity Theatre in Carbondale. 

The show times are 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. both days.

Staff reporter Bethany Rentfro can be reached at [email protected]

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