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Donor Highlight Story: The Vagina Monologues/V-Day UCSD

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By Sunny Lim

Sriya Podila, Jordan Krikorian, and Suzy Lourenco all knew they wanted to work with Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence after they saw the mission statement, which aims to support survivors and families affected by domestic violence through providing services such as scholarships, gift-giving, emotional support, helplines, speakers, and retreats.

BTS imagines a future without domestic violence.

Sriya, Jordan, and Suzy are the directors of the 2019 The Vagina Monologues and TheirStories productions at the University of California, San Diego. All proceeds from the shows support two local nonprofits, BTS and License to Freedom.

License to Freedom supports immigrant and refugee survivors of domestic violence in East County, San Diego.

The directors chose BTS and License to Freedom because of their purposes.

“They directly align with the message we send, which is to support those who have been oppressed in the past and work toward mending their futures,” they said.

The directors also shared what they loved most about the two nonprofits.

“We really love that BTS is an organization for survivors by survivors,” they said. “License to Freedom is also wonderful because they provide services to immigrant victims specifically in their native languages.”

With funds from show merchandise sales, the directors also started donating to organizations including Black Lives Matter, San Diego LGBTQ+ Center, and The Mukta Project–an organization based in Bangalore, India, that works to reduce the prevalence of AIDS and other STIs.

What drew the directors to The Vagina Monologues and TheirStories was seeing all the work put into creating an amazing production that spread an important message.

“All of the proceeds go to organizations that put that message into action, which is inspiring,” they said. “We knew we wanted to be a part of making it happen.”

Written in 1996 by Eve Ensler, The Vagina Monologues is a play centered around personal monologues read by groups of women. The monologues deal with subjects like sex, rape, menstruation, birth, trauma, and other aspects of femininity.

Some monologues include a sex worker’s detailed look into her own career and testimonies from Bosnian survivors of wartime rape. The play adds new monologues yearly to bring attention to a present issue affecting women internationally.

The purpose of the play is to celebrate femininity and to create a movement to stop violence against women. Because of powerful reactions from women who saw the play, Ensler and her colleagues started a nonprofit, V-Day, on February 14, 1998.

Each February, Ensler allows groups around the globe to produce performances of The Vagina Monologues and other shows created by V-Day for free. The groups then donate their proceeds to organizations or use them for separate projects that aim to end violence against women.

Although the play saw enormous success, some scholars and groups have criticized it for lacking voices from different gender identities. This has led to many groups staging the production with newly added monologues to reflect different backgrounds excluded from the original play.

For the directors at UC San Diego in 2017, they created HerStories in order to add more diverse voices to their production.  In 2018, the directors transformed HerStories into TheirStories to show a thorough cast of identities and voices that were missing or misrepresented in The Vagina Monologues.

“The student responses have been extraordinarily positive to TheirStories,” the directors said. “We’ve found that more and more people are relating to TheirStories pieces more than some from The Vagina Monologues.”

For 2019, there are four shows running from Friday, February 22 to Monday, February 25. According to the directors, the production progress starts in August with open slots until late October. The process includes informative workshops about gender pronouns, the controversial history of The Vagina Monologues, LGBTQ+ community, sexual health, and intersectionality.

“We also work on contacting businesses for support and donations for funds to support our beneficiaries,” they said. “We do cast rehearsals, advertise for our shows, and make art for the production itself.”

The directors and the cast members all work alongside one another to create a memorable show and to raise awareness about social issues.

BTS thanks V-Day UCSD for their support and dedication.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org, chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777, or send a private message through our Facebook page.

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