Despite the university not sanctioning the performance last year and again this year, students from Pepperdine follow up on last year’s success at the Malibu Stage Co. to benefit Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Their Children.
By Zuzana Freeman/Special to The Malibu Times
Following up on last year’s successful presentation of “The Vagina Monologues,” Pepperdine University students will present a benefit production of Eve Ensler’s work as part of the 2005 V-Day College Campaign to raise awareness and funds for local organizations working to end violence against women and girls.
The play will take place for the second year in a row at Malibu Stage Co. on Feb. 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and a matinee performance on Feb. 19 at 2 p.m. All proceeds will go to Sojourn Services for Battered Women and Their Children, a Santa Monica-based initiative that provides shelter, support, counseling and advocacy for women in or out of their abusive relationships.
The university last year would not sanction the play and forbid students to perform it on campus. The organizers decided to take “The Vagina Monologues” off campus, where it was performed to a packed house.
Producer and organizer Victoria Leigh Russell said, “Like last year, when it banned the play from being performed on campus, Pepperdine University is still opposed to the play.”
“We had hoped by showing the university how many students wanted to participate, that they would not [oppose] the play this year. We invited the administration to attend last year, by giving them free tickets, and hoped to set a scene for them so that they would not feel so threatened by it” Russell explained. “We talked to the Pepperdine University administration again this year, but the reception was no warmer.
“We already had a great venue with the Malibu Stage Co., so decided to perform it there again this year.”
Obie-award winning author of the play, Eve Ensler, has devoted her life to stopping violence against women, envisioning a planet in which women and girls will be free to thrive rather than merely survive.
“The Vagina Monologues” is based on Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. The play celebrates women’s sexuality and strength with humor and grace.
More than a dozen film and television actresses will be attending the last performance, including Malibu local Joan Benedict Steiger who is performing for the second year with the Pepperdine cast.
“The major difference this year is the fact that we have a celebrity performance,” Russell said. “Last year, the first time we put on ‘The Vagina Monologues’ in Malibu, it was only Pepperdine students who were involved with the play and we really didn’t know what we were doing. I was able to involve many more students who helped out with lighting and production for the play this year, as well as more people from the Malibu community.
“Last year, journalists from the campus newspaper were afraid to write stories about the play as they were worried that they would get into trouble,” Russell added. “However, so many students wanted to come and see it that we sold out all the tickets and forged an audience that is keen to come and see it again this year.”
“The Vagina Monologues” fosters open dialogue for women of all different backgrounds and circumstances. The play has been translated into more than 35 different languages, running in theatres all over the world. Ensler’s experience performing “The Vagina Monologues” inspired her to create V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.
Through V-Day campaigns, local volunteers and college students produce annual benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” to raise awareness and funds for anti-violence groups within their own communities. In 2004, more than 2,000 V-Day benefit events were presented by volunteer activists in the U.S. and around the world, educating millions of people about the reality of violence against women and girls.
The proceeds from these events are donated directly by the schools to local organizations in their communities. “One of the goals of the College Campaign,” according to a statement on the Web site, www.vday.org, “is to empower young people-the leaders, shapers and messengers of the future.”
Ticket reservations and more information can be obtained by calling 310.985.1076 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. General admission is $35 and $50 for the celebrity-studded Saturday night performance.
The Malibu Stage Co. is located at 29243 Pacific Coast Highway.