I heard that our local community theater was holding auditions for their annual production of the Vagina Monologues and I decided I wanted to be a part of this project.
Dubbed V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, this show is based on monologues of conversations with women around the world and was written by Eve Ensler. Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers produce annual benefit performances of the Vagina Monologues to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities.
I first saw this show several years ago in Beverly Hills. It was deeply moving, thought-provoking and, at times, hysterical. My husband came along with me and I never heard him laugh so much. We both became huge fans of the show and I was pleased to learn that proceeds were going for women's shelters.
Our theater decided that the proceeds would stay here at our local chapter of SAFE, a Temecula based anti-domestic violence group. Patty Drew, our Director and fearless leader, decided to repeat the show this year even though we were picketed last year by six anti-women protesters.
Acting in this show was a dream come true for me. I put aside my actor's cap and placed my reporter's cap on my little head. I walked around the theater and watched the men, who helped us put on this show. They made sure the mikes all worked, they made sure that we were each heard clearly. They supported us and laughed at the appropriate moments at our rehearsals.
I invited my friend Peggy, who is a very conservative Christian woman, who was a little apprehensive about coming to the show. Afterwards, she embraced me and told me how much she loved the show. I asked her opinion. She said, "To those who are worried that the social content erodes Christian values and is male bashing, I say, you couldn't be more wrong." She continued on, "There must be social justice in the world. And the thing that takes evil to prevail in violence against women is to stick your head in the sand and pretend that you don't see what is going on around you."
Our group of local actors consisted of 22 Caucasian women, 2 African-American women, and 3 Latinas. We each had our own reasons to be a part of this show.
I contacted Angel Jimenez to get her story. Angel told me that as she was growing up; her mother was being physically abused by her father. Angel's father was a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. He took it out on his wife. After years of abuse, her mother summoned up the courage to leave the marriage and thus gave her daughter the chance to have a better life.
Angel noted that in our culture, very often we do not reach out for help. We are too afraid, or too ashamed to come forward. She noted that especially now with massive unemployment and money issues, cases of abuse increase. "This is why I wanted to be a part of the show. This show brings about awareness. Your neighbor could be abused, your co-worker or a church member. This show gets people to open up, to have that conversation."
"Domestic violence touches everyone in every race and social standing."
I asked her if she had any final thoughts on acting in this show. She said, "Since doing the show, I find I hold my head up and I am walking taller than before".