City Pulse

By Kelly Hushin

New York City is home to dozens of performances of The Vagina Monologues each year, but only one of them takes place in a church. Perhaps that says something about where our culture stands with regards to women’s rights and activism, even in the melting pot of acceptance that is the Big Apple. Still, nothing is stopping the fearsome group of 40 women in the 4th Universalist Society’s fifth annual production of The Vagina Monologues, from putting on a no-holds-barred rendition of the now infamous play, which is celebrating its 15th year.

“This is the time for women to use their voices collectively to demand equality,” said Erin Bigelow, co-director of the production, along with Ege Maltepe. The show takes place this Friday and Saturday evening at 8 p.m. on 76th St. and Central Park West at the 4th Universalist Society church. (For details on how you can get two free tickets to the event, scroll to the bottom of the story.)

Every year for the past 15, empowered women have come to appreciate what is now nothing short of a theatrical classic, as well as being undoubtedly revolutionary in its cause. When Ensler penned The Vagina Monologues, inspired by hundreds of interviews with real women around the world, perhaps she could have never predicted the influence it would have globally. She’s surely thankful for it now, and more importantly, she’s determined to end violence against women…for good.

“Most of us are terribly afraid to walk home after a certain hour at night, and we are used to this fear,” said Maltepe. “In most cultures, it is one of the unspoken norms in the society – it’s normal to be afraid. I’ve had enough of being afraid, or seeing women being afraid of taking steps forward in life, being told what they should be doing, and being used to being told what they should be doing.”

Amid a climate where oppression’s grip on women seems to be tightening rather than loosening, where women feel shame for violent acts committed against them, where the female gender has been made to appear ever-more inferior, it might seem impossible to believe that we’re living in 2013. Incidents like the horrific gang rapes in India and the rape of an intoxicated young woman in a small American football town exemplify the need for women to take a stand and what better month than March, Women’s Rights Month. Eve Ensler saw the need for this when she created V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. Perhaps the most famous campaign to grace the days of V-Day each year, are the worldwide performances of The Vagina Monologues, which now happen across 182 countries.

The show’s proceeds go entirely to charitable organizations. Ten percent goes back to the V-Day campaign and the other 90 percent goes to beneficiaries of that production’s choice. The 4th Universalist Society has decided to donate to three beneficiaries this year: Safe Horizon, Restore NYC and Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees. Safe Horizon provides victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault with a wide range of comprehensive support. Restore NYC’s mission is to end sex trafficking in New York and restore the well-being and independence of foreign-national survivors. Finally, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees gives various levels of support to hundreds of families who have sought asylum in the US after being persecuted in Haiti.

“This event is so much more than a performance,” said Bigelow. “It is a wake up call, a celebration, an invitation into the woman’s psyche. This event speaks for women who don’t have a voice and literally saves lives with the money that’s raised.”

“Violence has many faces all over the world, and it spreads quickly,” said Maltepe. “V-Day is a global movement and also has powerful local effects. The change should start from us and spread all over. We have to break this chain of violence, fear and silence.”

Join Maltepe, Bigelow and more than 40 other women during the 4th Universalist Society’s production of The Vagina Monologues, by purchasing your tickets through this link:

http://www.4thu.org/v-day-2013/

Details for the show:

What: 4th Universalist Society presents Eve Ensler’s, The Vagina Monologues
When: Friday and Saturday, March 22nd & 23rd at 8 p.m.
Where: 160 Central Park West, 76th Street and Central Park West
Why: Because the violence ends now.
Website (again): http://www.4thu.org/v-day-2013/

BONUS: Two tickets are being given away to BeautyNewsNYC readers. Be one of the lucky readers to get to the door first on Friday night – or Saturday night, if unclaimed on Fri night) and mention code BEAUTYNEWS VAGINAS, and get two free tickets! Tickets are $27.50 in advance and $30 at the door. One hundred percent of the proceeds go to charity.

Originally published March 2013
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