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Combating Violence Against Women with Art

"The Vagina Monologues" comes back to Bend, times two

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In 1994, playwright Eve Ensler broke new ground with the play, "The Vagina Monologues." What started out as a piece of art aimed at addressing women's sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse spawned the non-profit organization V-Day—an activist movement that works to end violence against women and girls by raising funds and awareness through benefit productions of "The Vagina Monologues" and other works. V-Day has reached billions of people around the world, and this month, two V-Day campaigns are bringing unique productions of "The Vagina Monologues" to two different venues in Bend.

V-Day at 2nd Street

On Feb. 11 and 12, Ensler's play will open at 2nd Street Theater. While "The Vagina Monologues" is traditionally done as a reading, some creative license is given and director Julee Vadnais promises audiences will enjoy the unique approach her production has taken. She says, "We have added a lot of lighting and staging elements that are not usually done in this show, to help move it along and set moods and feelings. There's also a great dance piece, some music and an aerial piece."

Vadnais says she decided to add the aerial piece because it requires strength and is considered an empowering art form—two elements that have been key to the success of "The Vagina Monologues." Vadnais' cast consists of 19 women between the ages of 18 and 80 years, and includes two transgender performers who will read a new monologue that exposes the hardships and violence that trans women face.

Ninety percent of the proceeds from Vandnais' production will go to Saving Grace, the local women's organization that provides comprehensive family violence and sexual assault services.

V-Day at Sol Alchemy

On Feb. 17 and 18, another production of the "The Vagina Monologues" will take place at Sol Alchemy Temple. After discovering that the performance hadn't happened in Bend since 2007, Sol Alchemy's owner Breyn Hibbs got together a group of 14 women to jointly direct and produce the show.

The cast includes Jenni Peskin, a local social justice advocate who directed and produced "The Vagina Monologues" the last time it was in Bend. The group has taken a traditional approach to its production. "Instead of it being a dramatization of women's voices...it is a reading of women's voices because the monologues are, of course, based on real interviews with real women," says Hibbs.

When asked about her inspiration, Hibbs says, "I'd sum it up in two sentences: the feminine is rising and the time is now."

Proceeds will go to Shakti Rising Oregon and World Muse, two local organizations doing work on behalf of women and girls. The final 10 percent of both productions will go back to the National V-Day Movement.

2nd Street Theater

Feb. 11, 2pm and Feb. 12, 3pm and 7:30pm 

220 NE Lafayette Ave., Bend

$16 - $19

2ndstreettheater.com 

Sol Alchemy Temple

Feb, 17 & 18, 6:30 pm 

2150 NE Studio Rd #A5, Bend

$20

solalchemy.com

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