Conscious Party: ‘The Vagina Monologues’

BOA ENSEMBLE: The cast of "The Vagina Monologues" performs at The Orange Peel under the direction of Allison Taylor. The production returns to the venue Feb. 24, one day after playing Brevard's DFR Room. Photo by Capturing WNC Photography

WHAT: A pair of performances of Eve Ensler’s play to benefit SAFE and Helpmate

WHEN: Friday, Feb. 23, and Saturday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m.

WHERE: The DFR Room, 36 E. Main St., Brevard, and The Orange Peel, 101 Biltmore Ave., Asheville

WHY: 2018 marks 20 years since The Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler and a group of women in New York City established V-Day. The nonprofit allows groups around the world to stage productions of the play and donate the proceeds to local projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls.

One person who answered the call was Allison Taylor. Upon reading the work, which addresses women’s sexuality and the social stigma surrounding rape and abuse, she set about directing, producing and acting in a production in her hometown of Brevard.

“I am very liberal, not politically correct [and] enjoy getting people outside of their comfort zones with things like just saying the word ‘vagina,’ especially when it’s such a needed message and wonderful cause to financially support,” Taylor says.

“One of my main goals was to encourage men to attend, as these are issues that affect your mothers, daughters, sisters and wives — and I succeeded in having about a third of the audience being male. That trend has continued over the years.”

The previous five shows have raised over $25,000 for local women’s shelters. For the first time in Taylor’s six years of organizing the event, there will be two performances for 2018. The first takes place Friday, Feb. 23, at The DFR Room in Brevard and benefits SAFE, then moves to The Orange Peel the following night to benefit Helpmate. Both shows start at 8 p.m.

The first year, Taylor handpicked women she knew had some connection to a particular monologue. Many had never acted before, but all were passionate about being involved. Numerous cast members have remained the same over the years, or taken a brief hiatus before returning, but Taylor says she’s found greater success in rotating in new faces to present the continuously relevant material.

“Although there are much more open discussions about women’s issues than there were 20 years ago, domestic and sexual abuse is still prevalent across the globe. Statistically, one in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime — and if you think about your mother, your wife, and your daughter … one in three,” she says. “That statistic hasn’t changed very much, and although the media is bringing to light more of these instances, it is still painfully obvious how much abuse of women and girls goes on in our country alone.”

The Vagina Monologues performances take place Friday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m., at The DFR Room in Brevard, and Saturday, Feb. 24, 8 p.m., at The Orange Peel. $25 general admission advance/$35 day of show. $15 student tickets in advance/$20 day of show. etix.com

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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