Around Town: ‘The Vagina Monologues’ raises money for domestic violence nonprofit

BODY TALK: The March 17 production of 'The Vagina Monologues' at The Orange Peel will raise money for Helpmate. Photo by Capturing WNC Photography

For too many people, “vagina” is a dirty word, says Allison Taylor.

“Men are perfectly comfortable talking about their penises, and women are used to hearing them talk about their ‘packages,’ but vaginas are still considered off-limits among most,” says Taylor, a local producer and director.

That’s why she embraced the message of Eve Ensler‘s influential 1996 play, The Vagina Monologues, when she first encountered it. In 2013, Taylor brought the show to her native Brevard to raise money for SAFE Inc. of Transylvania County. For a few years, she continued with annual performances in Brevard and Asheville before running the production exclusively in Asheville.

Taylor will produce and direct the show’s latest iteration on Friday, March 17, at 8 p.m., at The Orange Peel. All proceeds will benefit Helpmate, a nonprofit that addresses intimate partner violence in Buncombe County.

Previous performances have raised almost $45,000 for local women’s shelters.

“Unfortunately, domestic violence is a prominent problem in our society — and around the world,” Taylor explains. “The work of Helpmate is extremely important in our community as they work toward creating a world free of violence by providing safety, shelter, counseling, advocacy and education to their clients and the community.”

The Vagina Monologues explores sexual experiences, body image, genital mutilation, vaginal care, menstrual periods and other topics through the eyes of women of various ages, races and sexualities. The Orange Peel show will feature a cast of 18 local women.

“My hope is that the audience will walk away with a better understanding of the issues that women face, a deeper education of the difficult and sometimes horrible journey that many women have traveled,” she says. “But overall, the feel of the production is much more funny than it is somber.”

Taylor stresses the importance of men attending the show. “These are issues that affect their wives, daughters, mothers, sisters and friends,” she says.

The Orange Peel is at 101 Biltmore Ave. General admission tickets are $25 in advance and $35 at the door. Student tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

Long story short

Luke Hankins knows Testament, his latest poetry collection, sounds pretty bleak when he describes it.

“The poems address both internal and external sources of pain, conflict or damage — such as gun violence, terrorism, spiritual uncertainty and mental health issues,” the Asheville poet explains. “But I hope these concerns are balanced with attention to beauty, faith in the power of poetic language to make difficulties of all kinds more manageable and small gestures toward redemption.”

The 32-page Testament was released this month as part of the Texas Review Press Chapbook Series. A chapbook is a short book of poetry, usually ranging between 20 and 40 pages.

Hankins’ previous poetry collections, Radiant Obstacles and Weak Devotions, were each 80 pages or more.

“There’s something appealing to me in a shorter sequence that might be read in a single sitting fairly easily, and which is presented as an attractive physical object,” he says. “In terms of thematic and stylistic concerns, there’s definitely a lot of continuity [in the three collections], but I do think that my newer work looks more consistently outside the self than my earlier work.”

Hankins is the founder of Orison Books, a local nonprofit literary press.

For more information or to purchase Testament, go to

Celtic pride

Put on that kilt and get ready to eat some haggis while the sound of bagpipes plays in the background.

The Asheville Celtic Festival will be Saturday, Feb. 18, 10 a.m.-9 p.m., at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

The opening ceremony for the annual indoor/outdoor event will be at 11 a.m. and will feature music from the Grandfather Mountain Highlanders Pipe Band. Other live music will be provided by Scottish band Albannach and North Carolina-based band Unspoken Tradition.

Also on tap will be a fully armored sword-fighting demonstration by the Warriors of Ash, border collie demonstrations, genealogy research and Celtic foods.

The festival is put on by the Asheville Celtic Group, a nonprofit that seeks to educate about the historic Celtic cultural influences brought by settlers to the Western North Carolina mountains from 1750 to 1850.

General admission tickets are $24 for adults and $8 for children ages 5-12.

The WNC Agricultural Center is at 761 Boylston Highway, Fletcher. For more information or to buy tickets, go to

Event highlights Black storytellers

In honor of Black History Month, Story Parlor’s AVL Revue series will feature artists invited to participate by Black-led organizations on Friday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.

Black Wall Street will present photographer/designer Ricardo Tejeda and author and motivational speaker Tyler Lewis; the Racial Justice Coalition of Asheville will feature music by Nostalgianoid (Mike Holmes); the N.C. Association of Black Storytellers will be represented by storyteller Roy Harris; the featured performer of Asheville FM‘s “Slay the Mic” will be hip-hop artist SIYAH (Isa Whitaker); and the YMI Cultural Center will present a spoken-word performance by artist Lady Be (Robyn Baxter). Story Parlor is a cooperative arts space in West Asheville.

“We’re zooming in on the incredible contributions and creativity of our BIPOC friends and neighbors here in Asheville, along with acknowledging the systemic hardships and harm that Black Americans continually face on a daily basis,” Story Parlor says in a press release. “With a microphone and a stage at our disposal, we aim to provide a safe and inclusive space for all voices and maintain our sense of faith in the transformative power that art and story can have.”

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

Story Parlor is at 227 Haywood Road. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Art history

Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center will host an art show, Southside Presents: Black History Through the Eyes of Art, from Friday, Feb. 17, to Tuesday, Feb. 28. The exhibit gets underway with a reception Feb. 17, 6-8 p.m.

The pop-up show will feature art in various mediums from local artists.

Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Grant Southside Center, 285 Livingston St., is open Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, go to

Grove is in the heart

The Grove Park Arts & Crafts Home Tour will be Saturday, Feb. 18, and Sunday, Feb. 19, 1-5 p.m., in Asheville’s Grove Park neighborhood.

The historic neighborhood was laid out by noted landscape architect Chauncey Beadle in the early 20th century and includes representative examples of colonial revival-, Tudor revival- and bungalow-style dwellings.

Sponsored by the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County, the event is part of the 36th annual National Arts & Crafts Conference and Shows, which runs from Friday, Feb. 17, to Sunday, Feb. 19, at the Grove Park Inn.

Participants should be able to walk several city blocks and negotiate stairs and public walkways. Docents will be available in each home to answer questions. The tour will happen rain or shine.

Tickets are $35 for each day. For more information or to buy tickets, go to For more information about the National Arts & Crafts Conference and Shows, visit

Winter music

The Asheville Symphony will present Masterworks 4: Aurora, a program featuring works by three legendary Scandinavian and Slavic composers, Saturday, Feb. 18, at 8 p.m., in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium of Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville.

The program opens with Jean SibeliusFinlandia, a tone poem for orchestra. After that, guest pianist Jacob Bernhardt will join the orchestra for Edvard Grieg’s Piano Concerto. The program concludes with Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony.

Ticket prices range from $25-$75.

Harrah’s Cherokee Center – Asheville is at 87 Haywood St. For more information or to buy tickets, go to



Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.