Performance of Vagina Monologues to benefit Courage Connection


Torey Butner

A one time performance of the Vagina Monologues is coming to the Virginia Theatre on Aug. 25 to benefit Courage Connection. Tickets go on sale today.

By Jessica Bursztynsky, Interim Editor-in-Chief

In an effort to bring both awareness and funds to Courage Connection – an Urbana-based domestic violence shelter – is a one time performance of the Vagina Monologues on Aug. 25 at the Virginia Theatre.

Organizers Molly McLay and January Boten wanted to bring Eve Ensler’s 1995 play to the community to share stories of empowerment throughout all walks of life. Ensler interviewed over 200 women to document their stories regarding their experiences, including domestic violence.

McLay, who serves as the assistant director of the Women’s Resources Center, said she has seen the need for local services such as Courage Connection.

“I know that things are going a bit better for Courage Connection now that we have a budget, but these agencies are underfunded many times,” McLay said. “We’re really excited to get the opportunity to support them in this way.”

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. performance are on sale today and are available for $9.50, $16.50 and $22.50 online, at the Virginia’s box office or by phone at 217-356-9063.

Sixty-eight cast members are speaking in the Vagina Monologues, said McLay.

“We wanted to make the show as big as possible, so some of the monologues have multiple speakers,” McLay said. “I think it’s important to share as many voices in the community as possible.” 

The performers do not all fit the typical “cis white straight women” type, and include non-binary, genderqueer and trans women, which McClay said is an extremely positive element. The organizers included a monologue about the experiences of transgender women for more inclusion.

“We wanted to be very inclusive and really focus on who the material speaks to,” she added. “I think many of the messages in the Vagina Monologues are timeless, and unfortunately, are still relevant.”

Talks to bring the Vagina Monologues to the community began in February, when the budget impasse was threatening to close Courage Connection, but picked up speed over the summer when casting began in June. Anyone who auditioned was guaranteed a spot, and McLay said many people were recruited through word of mouth.

Cast members vary in many different regards, she said. Some performers have a detailed acting history and some have not acted at all, some are college-aged while others are in their 50s and 60s.

McClay said they “really wanted to pack the Virginia Theatre” both for the fundraiser and as a way for community members to share their voices.

“A vagina is a part of a person’s anatomy. Vaginas are capable of incredible things – they’re capable of giving birth, immense pleasure,” McLay said. “I think the way that we are often afraid to talk about vaginas as though they are a taboo topic, but it’s something that half of people on this earth have.”

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