What Are You Doing for V-Day?

A special production of The Vagina Monologues raises awareness about violence against women

“I come from the ‘down there’ generation. That is, those were the words – spoken rarely and in a hushed voice – that the women in my family used to refer to all female genitalia, internal or external,” writes Eve Ensler the author of The Vagina Monologues.

In honor of V-Day, a global activist movement to stop violence against women and girls, V‑Day Camden County will present a one-night-only benefit reading of Ensler’s award-wining play at the Scottish Rite Ballroom and Theater in Collingswood on March 24 (8 p.m.). The ‘V’ in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine and Vagina.

“We are excited to bring The Vagina Monologues to the Philadelphia tri-state area to discuss the issues facing women today,” says Will DeTurck, the event’s organizer. “The show has been filled with lesbian and transgender viewpoints from almost the original performance of The Vagina Monologues in 1996. To me, the most important addition to our production is the inclusion of the piece ‘They Beat The Girl Outta My Boy…Or So They Tried.'”

The monologue is focused on five transgender women in a composite of stories told to the author by more than 20 transwomen during three days of discussion in a secluded California cabin. “The women were aged from early twenties to fifties,” says DeTurck. “They began transitioning from the early teens to forties – and they identified as heterosexual, lesbian or bisexual. And all of the women lived full time as themselves: female.”

This piece was the “Spotlight” monologue for the 2004 performance in L.A. performed by an all-trans cast. “I felt the need to include this piece to spotlight what, here, in the tri-state area is the hidden community,” says DeTurck, who admits that unless a transperson commits a crime or is found murdered, their stories are seldom told. “These women are living on the margins of our community and need their voices to be heard – to tell of their own self-fullment, pride and love. I dedicate the monologue to those who dare to be themselves and live in fullness and happiness.”

He says V-Day is a catalyst that promotes creative events to increase awareness, raise money and revitalize the spirit of anti-violence organizations. He hopes that this special presentation will raise interest locally – and in the LGBT community – to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation and sex slavery.

Last year, more than 5,400 V-Day benefits were held around the world, raising more than $4 million through performance of Ensler’s play. DeTurke says Camden County has joined this global movement as part of the V‑Day 2011 Camden County New Jersey Campaign. It’s the first time the organization will be presenting the play to benefit Center For Family Services of Camden County with a group of very special guest performers.

The Vagina Monologues, Scottish Rite Ballroom and Theater, Collingswood, N.J., March, 24, 8 p.m.,  or 800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.