Lara Hope got hooked on The Vagina Monologues when she was attending SUNY-New Paltz, and her annual production of the play, now in its third year, has become an important fundraiser for Family of Woodstock’s Domestic Violence Services. Written by playwright and activist Eve Ensler, the play was first produced in 1994, and since then it has been enlightening audiences around the world about the social stigma and suffering of women who have been raped or been the victims of domestic violence: a subject that had too long been in the closet.
Moved by the many women who came out with their stories after her play became a hit, Ensler spearheaded the founding of V-Day on Valentine’s Day 1998: a movement dedicated to stopping the violence. All productions of The Vagina Monologues serve as fundraisers for the nonprofit organization, which has raised millions of dollars around the world. Ten percent of the proceeds of Hope’s production go to V-Day, with the remaining funds contributed to Family of Woodstock.
Hope’s first production of The Vagina Monologues raised $2,000, an amount that doubled last year. This year, to meet her goal of $10,000, the play will run for two weekends at two different venues. On February 17 and 18, it’ll be performed at Kingston’s BackStage Productions (BSP) Lounge starting at 8 p.m., followed by the Oasis Lounge in New Paltz on February 25 at 8 p.m. and February 26 at 2 p.m. The 90-minute show will be followed by live music and a deejay. The bands, all fronted by women, are Tigress (Hope’s band, which is playing in two of the four shows), the Brooklyn-based Shana Falana, Madre Padre, Horned Angels and Playing with Sound. The styles range from rock ‘n’ roll (Tigress) to pop/rock (Shana Falana) to country/Western (Horned Angels) to two-piece electronic pop (Playing with Sound). Between the play and the music there will be a live auction and raffle, with all kinds of goods, services, gift certificates and prizes offered by local businesses.
Hope said that this year’s production should be “bigger and more professional than ever.” She did an open casting call, with about half of the actors from previous years returning. She also said that, while in previous years The Vagina Monologues was performed in a bar (the now-defunct Basement), thus preventing people under age 21 from attending, the new venues won’t have that limitation.
Tickets are available online for the BSP show at https://www.brownpapertickets.com. For more information, contact Hope at [email protected] or follow the Facebook link at https://www.facebook.com/events/247247272012588/?ref=ts.