March 25, 2010
10-055

Jennifer Tanner
Communications Specialist

Student Directs This Year's Vagina Monologues

VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University will celebrate the strength and empowerment of women with its 4th annual benefit performance of "The Vagina Monologues" at 7 p.m. Thursday through Friday, April 8-10, in the VSU Student Union Theater.

VSU's Department of Women's and Gender Studies (WGST) will host the performances as part of the 2010 observance of V-Day, a global non-profit movement established in 1998 to end violence against women and girls.

VSU theatre major Courtney Conner will direct this year's cast of 20 scholar activists in the production, which strives to empower women to find their collective voices and demand an end to the violence that affects one in three women in the US and around the world.

Connor -- the first student director since VSU V-Day's inception in 2007 -- will guide actors through Eve Ensler's Obie award-winning series of monologues that explore sex, relationships and violence toward women. The recurring theme depicts the vagina as a tool of female empowerment and the ultimate embodiment of individuality.

"Courtney has experience in theatre for social change and has added some very creative twists to this year's production," said Dr. Tracy Woodard-Meyers, director of VSU's department of Women's and Gender Studies. "I think people will gain a great deal from this year's performance, regardless of whether or not they have seen it in the past."

This year's cast includes VSU students and faculty, as well as two local community members. Meyers said the annual benefit performances are vital to the V-Day movement because both the participants and audience members are challenged to think more deeply about violence against women and how it affects their lives and the lives of those around them.

"The women involved gain a great sense of empowerment, confidence and sexual agency from participating in this movement. They become scholar activists who continue to fight against the violence that women and girls endure everyday," Meyers said. "Audience members walk away with the knowledge that women are entitled to express sexual feelings and enjoy sexual experiences free of shame and guilt."

Meyers said each year Ensler writes a new monologue to put a global spotlight on a current issue impacting women. This year's will focus on women and girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo and ten percent of proceeds will benefit the 2010 Spotlight Campaign: "Stop Raping Our Greatest Resource: Power to Women and Girls of DRC." Read more about the V-Day effort at http://drc.vday.org/ or join WGST for a free educational presentation, "Congo Teach in: Education and Activate," at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, in Odum Library.

Remaining proceeds will benefit beneficiaries focused on ending violence toward women and to fund VSU's Women's and Gender Studies Sexual Violence Prevention program.

Call WGST at 229-249-4842 or stop by the office at 1526 N. Oak St. to purchase tickets, which are available at $5 for students and $10 for general admission.