V-Day event is this weekend

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

By Nancy Gaines
For The Salisbury Post
V-Day Salisbury will present a benefit production of ěA Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayerî at the Looking Glass Artist Collective, 405 N. Lee Street April 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.
All proceeds go to support the ongoing battle against violence against women, with 90 percent going to the Rowan Family Crisis Council and 10 percent going to support V-Dayís work with the women of Haiti.
This is the third annual V-Day benefit performance held at the Looking Glass Artist Collective. In 2009, V-Day Salisbury presented ěAny One of Us: Words From Prison.î In 2010 we produced ěThe Vagina Monologues.î Each presented a unique and powerful perspective on the causes and effects of violence against women.
What is V-Day? In 1998 Eve Ensler and others started V-Day, which grew to be an international project to raise money to support to groups working with female victims of violence of all kinds. It began with one performance of Eve Enslerís ěThe Vagina Monologuesî and grew to multiple performances of many different scripts, as well as teach-ins, art shows and many other projects. Over the years since 1998, V-Day projects have raise millions of dollars for rape crisis centers and other similar organizations around the world.
The material used in this yearís production of ěA Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayerî grew out of a project begun by Eve Ensler in 2006. Ensler asked a group of notable writers to contribute their thoughts, their stories, their words on the subject of violence against women. She envisioned an event in which these monologues would be performed by great actors. She expected that only 10 or 20 would respond, but the response was overwhelming. Edward Albee, Alice Walker, Erin Cressida Wilson, Michael Eric Dyson, and many other authors contributed to what would be come ěA Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer.î
This year we bring you a selection of those writings with our own remarkable cast, including Lori Van Wallendael, Bob Paolino, Elizabeth Turneabe, Theresa Laib, Rick Godby, Wendy Gilmore Baskins, Sharon Doherty, Scotty Thomas, Celsa DeJesus, and Nancy Gaines. The monologues you hear will tell the stories of women who have suffered at the hands of rebels in Darfur; women who have gone into hiding to avoid the violence of war, women who have fought back in the face of violence, men who have seen and learned, men who have stood silent, and many more stories. The stories this year are more international than in past years and show how the issue of violence against women is bigger than race or borders or boundaries or nationalities.
Another unique aspect of this yearís production is the inclusion of monologues written and performed by men, addressing the issues that face men, that face all of us, in dealing with domestic violence. Past productions have been all female casts presenting material written by women. And every year, most of our audience has been female. As a result, every year when V-Day comes around, as producer and director, I get a fair amount of ribbing from the guys I know about putting on male-bashing events. None of them want to come. They see it as equivalent to attending a ěchick-flick.î As if domestic violence is a problem they donít have to be aware of or deal with. As if a production by women, about women, is not to be taken seriously.
Or maybe they donít have the courage to see and have to admit, and acknowledge what some of their brethren are doing. The material weíve presented is not ěman bashing,î but it is powerful and graphic, and talks about what SOME men are doing to the women in their lives. And until men as well as women are willing to stand up and say this is wrong, we will never stop the cycle of violence.
But in order to stand up and say stop, you first have to see what is happening. You have to understand what motivates people to violence. I have worked with both abusers and victims in my career as attorney. Most victims are not themselves perfect, and most abusers are not demons. They are men and women who have been caught up in larger life circumstances with limited options and those circumstances have then turned abusive and in ěA Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, and A Prayer,î both sides of that equation are looked at.
In this yearís production, we address how easy it to walk away and do nothing, how economic and societal stressors can break a man down and result in violence, how easy it is to pretend to not see, or to blame the victim for the violence they have suffered, how violence begets violence. All of this told through the dramatic stories of ordinary men and women. We do not set out to blame but to understand, and by understanding learn how to stop what is happening. But that will only happen if men have the courage to actually look and see, to show up and be a part. We particularly invite the men of our community to have the courage to attend V-Day this year, to stop looking away, to stand up and become part of the solution.
The need is greater than ever now and yet budgets are getting cut right and left and less and less money goes to agencies such as Rowan Family Crisis Council for providing services to the battered women of this county. Every day in Rowan County women flee their homes with little more than the clothes on their back. It would be a shame if there was nowhere for them to go.
Support a good cause and see a good show. Tickets are on sale now for the two performances. Tickets are $20 each and can be bought at the Looking Glass Artist Collective, the Law Office of Nancy R. Gaines, and from individual cast members. Tickets can also be bought online. Contact Nancy at KalimaTribal@carolina.rr.com for information on how to purchase advance tickets on line.