Staging of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to benefit Advocate Safehouse |

Staging of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to benefit Advocate Safehouse

The Birth of Venus depicts the goddess of love

If You Go...

Who: Phi Theta Kappa and the Women’s Forum at Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley

What: ‘The Vagina Monologues’

When: 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday

Where: The Cardiff Schoolhouse, 4018 Sky Ranch Drive in Glenwood Springs

How Much: $10 general admission, $5 students

Parking is limited, so arrive early and consider parking at the soccer field and walking to the schoolhouse.

What do the voices in “The Vagina Monologues” have in common? What ties together a 12-year-old girl experiencing her first period, a woman who witnesses the birth of her granddaughter, a rape survivor and a sex worker?

The unifying thread is the female experience, which is one that is filled with joy, pain, self-esteem issues, self-discovery, laughter and, all too often, violence.

Phi Theta Kappa and the Women’s Forum at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus are presenting a production of “The Vagina Monologues” at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday at the Cardiff Schoolhouse. Tickets are $10 or $5 for students, and all proceeds will benefit the Advocate Safehouse Project. The show contains some profanity and a generous helping of sexual content.

“‘The Vagina Monologues’ is a great play, and the message is very important and relevant to being a woman in today’s world,” said Emma Bielski, community outreach and volunteer coordinator at the Advocate Safehouse. “So I think it’s great.”

The Advocate Safehouse Project provides services to reduce domestic violence and help victims of it, like a 24-hour help line, emergency shelter for survivors in danger, education and outreach efforts, a Latina outreach program and more. The Advocate Safehouse is the only program in Garfield County offering these services for survivors of domestic or sexual violence and their children, and it is the only program of its kind in the Roaring Fork Valley and one of only 11 in Colorado’s Western Slope.

“Any kind of domestic violence, it just needs to be made aware of,” said China Kwan, president of Phi Theta Kappa and producer and actress in “The Vagina Monologues.” “For every case that does make the news — say Ray Rice in the elevator beating up his girlfriend and dragging her out by her hair — for everyone that does make the news, how many of them are not brought up? It’s not reported, and if it is reported, it gets shoveled away. It gets thrown under the carpet. And you can’t. I needs to be out.”

The current statistic is one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. While “The Vagina Monologues” does deal with issues of domestic and sexual violence against women and children, the play is also funny and examines the less harrowing side of being a woman.

“There are sobering statistics,” Kwan said. “There are a couple of stores that are sobering. But for the most part, it’s very, very funny. It’ll be an enjoyable evening with a very serious topic, but we don’t dwell on the downer end of it, on the bad side. We dwell on the hope.”

Phi Theta Kappa came to produce the play for a number of different reasons. First, the honor society does a fundraiser every year for a chosen charity or organization. Second, every year in the month of February, the rights to “The Vagina Monologues” are given for free to any group that wants to produce the play to benefit a local organization that works in preventing violence against women. It’s part of the global V-Day movement inspired by the play, and the only rules are all the proceeds must be given away to a qualifying charity or organization.

Kwan said Phi Theta Kappa first began discussing the possibility of staging “The Vagina Monologues” in September. She registered the group with the V-Day movement, waited for permission to be granted, then nominated Advocate Safehouse as their beneficiary.

“We’ve really been ratcheting out the process since December,” Kwan said. “Having a background in the [CMC] theater department and other theaters throughout the valley, I contacted some ladies that I knew that are of like mind and that were interested in participating. I got my cast together in under three days.”

The cast consists of Kwan and seven other women: Heather Ardley, Erin Dwyer, Lisa Langer, Cora Wettlin, Jaime Walsh, Alicia Sapp and Chip Winn Wells.

The women did their first table reading on Sunday, but Kwan said the show will actually be more affective with less rehearsing.

“It’s much more spontaneous and therefore much more powerful if you don’t have a preconceived notion of, ‘I’m going to do it this way,’” she said. “And that way it gives us the opportunity to feel what’s happening in the room. That’s why it’s wonderful that we have such a talented group of ladies that are able to be spontaneous, think on their feet, read the audience’s reactions and figure out where they’re going to go from there.”

Kwan said in addition to raising money for the Advocate Safehouse, she hopes “The Vagina Monologues” will raise awareness and bring comfort to survivors of domestic violence.

“If it helps one person to realize that it’s wrong, or to realize that, one, you’re not alone, and two, there are people here to help you, we’ve done our job,” Kwan said. “I’d like to touch more than one — hopefully we will — but if we are able to help one person, then that’s our job.”

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