‘Vagina Monologues’ looks to empower women, raise awareness of sexual assault | TahoeDailyTribune.com

‘Vagina Monologues’ looks to empower women, raise awareness of sexual assault

A cast of women will perform "The Vagina Monologues" at Lake Tahoe Community College's Duke Theatre on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24.

Mid-February is not only marked by Valentine's Day, but also the empowering women's movement known as V-Day — which corresponds not only to its nonprofit of the same name, but also the countless productions of Eve Ensler's play, "The Vagina Monologues," showcased across the nation on the days surrounding the Hallmark holiday.

On Friday and Saturday, Feb. 23-24, V-Day comes to South Lake Tahoe for the 16th consecutive year with two performances of Ensler's drama at Lake Tahoe Community College's Duke Theatre.

For those who are unfamiliar with the event, "The Vagina Monologues" debuted Off-Broadway in 1996, launching a movement two years later (V-Day) that seeks to end violence against females.

"Basically 20 years ago [Ensler] interviewed over 200 women about relationships with their vaginas and different experiences they've had, sexual relationships and all kinds of different stories that they had growing up," said Meg Peart, the director, producer and one of the cast members of South Shore's "The Vagina Monologues."

"She wrote monologues about these women's stories. Our role is telling them to raise awareness for sexual assault and violence towards women and girls," Peart continued.

While the show is not new to the basin, "The Vagina Monologues" takes place in a new venue this year — and according to Peart, it will bring a new element to the production.

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"This is the first time we've been in a theater with sets and lights. It's a whole different feel," she said.

"We've done rehearsals every night in somebody's living room. We're all sitting around in a comfortable space, so we're designing the set to be somebody's living room — when you're coming to the show it's like you're coming into our living room and joining us for a performance, which is fun. It's casual and comfortable, instead of intimidating."

But for those who have seen the play before, many of the components will be familiar.

"It's similar to what [audiences] have seen in terms of the monologues, but we changed up the actors. Every year I make sure someone doesn't do the same piece, which brings new light because everyone reads in a different way.

"If you've come to the show in the past, you'll have an idea of this year's. We've added a twist on things, added our own Tahoe flair," Peart said.

And with the development of the #MeToo Movement — which gained mass attention after allegations against Harvey Weinstein in fall of 2017 — those involved in V-Day believe the message behind "The Vagina Monologues" is essential in heightening awareness of sexual misconduct.

"It's really important for us to raise awareness of sexual assault against women and girls. The #MeToo Movement brought light to it, and it's helping open eyes in the community. We need to continue the movement because it's so prevalent here — there's a lot of trafficking and sexual assault," said Peart.

"Unfortunately the founders of 'The Vagina Monologues' haven't updated the script to include any of that, which we were surprised about this year. But we do feel strongly about it," she continued.

The global V-Day organization and "The Vagina Monologues" events donate proceeds to various anti-violence organizations, and V-Day South Lake Tahoe is no different: Last year the South Shore event raised over $15,000 and donated $10,000 of the proceeds to Partners Against Trafficking of Humans (the remaining $5,000 went to V-Day).

This year V-Day South Lake Tahoe will donate 100 percent of proceeds to scholarships for female-identified students at LTCC. The goal is to create three $5,000 scholarships.

Apart from the performance of "The Vagina Monologues," the V-Day South Lake Tahoe events also include a silent auction, raffle and bar featuring local beer. Doors open at 7:25 p.m. for the 8 p.m. productions, and general admission tickets are available for $25. Student tickets cost $20. Purchases are conducted online at http://www.vdaytahoe2018.eventbrite.com.

While the show is open to all ages, Peart recommends parents accompany any attendees under the age of 18.

Learn more about V-Day South Lake Tahoe on Facebook (@vdaytahoe) or email vdaytahoe@gmail.com. Additional information about the global organization can be found at http://www.vday.org.