Michigan State University will host its 18th annual performance of The Vagina Monologues at the Wharton Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, February 26 at 8pm, and Saturday, February 27 at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are $20 with all proceeds going to The Firecracker Foundation, a nonprofit organization which helps girls and boys who have experienced sexual violence.
“We've been performing the Vagina Monologues for the past 17 years at Michigan State. We put on the show to celebrate the stories of our brave survivors and also to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault and domestic violence. I think that this is so important because it always takes so much for survivors to come out and share what happened to them. We also think it's so important to honor the organizations in our community that do so much to make difference,”said Herasanna Richards, publicity director for the production.
In 1996, The Vagina Monologues began as a one-woman show, written by Eve Ensler. It was based on a series of interviews and casual conversations with about 200 women. Each monologue talks about women’s positive and/or negative experiences with sex and love. Monologues have themes of pleasure, tenderness, embarrassment, cruelty, and pain. As the show increased in popularity, it began to be performed by an ensemble of actresses. In 1998, theaters and college campuses began producing the Monologues, which helped to launch an international movement known as V-Day. According to their website, V-Day is a “global movement to end violence against women and girls.”
MSU’s production began rehearsing in mid-October. “The women who participate in our production come from all different backgrounds. From a variety of majors, to MSU alumni, to members of our community. We want our show to expand in all directions and bring our community together in solidarity,” Richards said.
This is Richards fourth year participating in the monologues. She performed the monologue The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could her freshman year, and for the past three years, has been the publicity coordinator for the show.
“This show is absolutely the most impactful and meaningful experience I've participated in during my time at Michigan State. So often when we discuss the personal issues of women, sexual assault, violence against women, it can be angry at negative. I think in the mix of that we sometimes lose and forget the opportunity to celebrate what makes women awesome, and that we are awesome. We have amazing experiences, even along with the tough ones. I really think the show gives women the amazing opportunity to express that, and it doesn't come along very often,” Richards said.
This year’s performances benefit The Firecracker Foundation, a non-profit organization in Lansing that provides therapy services to girls and boys who have experienced sexual violence.
“For children who have been so strong to endure what they have, healing for their trauma is so important for them to have a chance at positive and healthy lives. We chose them because of the unique place that they have in our community. So often in the awfulness of this issue, our children are forgotten, and the same horror (of sexual violence) happens to them. We admire The Firecracker Foundation for seeing a need in our community and moving forward to make a change,” Richards said.
The foundation’s founder and executive director, Tashmica Torok, is in the show this year. “That's something that makes this show so much more passionate and personal to us,” Richards said. “100 percent of the proceeds from our show go the Firecracker Foundation and their initiatives. So more money means more help for those children, and that's an awesome thing to pay it forward to.”