“The Vagina Monologues” | Empowering women through words

The Tahoe SAFE Alliance cast of “The Vagina Monologues” are, from left, Michele Jones, Andrea Chapman, Jessica Robinson, Lisa Abrahams, Tobi Waldron, Emily Abrahams, Loren McCormac, and co-director Mira Polochko. | Courtesy Tahoe SAFE Alliance

Playwright and activist Eve Ensler wrote and first performed “The Vagina Monologues” in 1996. The series of monologues was drawn from hundreds of interviews conducted by Ensler with women who shared their most intimate feelings and thoughts about their vaginas.

“The Vagina Monologues” explores how women feel about their body image, sexual experiences, both pleasurable and horrifying, cultural atrocities, human trafficking, genital mutilation, rape and sexual abuse. Ensler interviewed women from all walks of life, ages, races, sexual orientations and geographical backgrounds, creating a forum that encourages them to speak out and be empowered, aware and more comfortable in their bodies. The play is poignant, shocking, disturbing and, at times, hilarious.

Twenty-two years later, “The Vagina Monologues” is heralded and performed throughout the world .

Tahoe SAFE  (Stopped Abuse For Everyone) Alliance and the Youth Team Peace Project, a Truckee High School club facilitated by the Alliance , hope to bring awareness of teen-dating violence and sexual violence with their production of “The Vagina Monologues” on Feb. 16 at Truckee’s Community Arts Center. Kate Ruttenberg and Mira Polochko direct the production featuring 13 local actors performing the monologues to benefit the Alliance.

Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe will be presenting a separate production of “The Vagina Monologues”  on Feb. 23 and 24.

“Every year a new monologue is created. This year the focus will include the transgender community,” says Kassie Reisbeck, the SAFE Alliance’s community outreach and prevention educator

The new monologue is written to help bring an end to violence against transsexual and non-binary, nonconforming people.

“It’s important to keep the conversation going and break stigma. Our hope with the performance is that we can bring an end to sexual violence. It can happen to anyone; it can happen to our neighbors, family and friends. We need to bring awareness of sexual violence locally,” says Reisbeck.

“The Tahoe SAFE Alliance conducted a survey of 100 adults in North Lake Tahoe; 49 percent of the community said sexual violence was not a problem or only a minor issue in our area. It is important to understand that sexual violence affects the community. It must not be kept behind closed doors. Victim blaming and the rape culture are stigmas that need to be broken. And, one of the biggest stigmas is it’s not happening locally,” she said.

“People don’t like talking about the issue. It makes our job harder to bring the conversation out. Another stigma that needs to be broken is that sexual assault happens by a stranger. Acquaintance rape is more common. Pressure and coercion are more prevalent. Education is important. We help students to learn to communicate and know their boundaries,” says Reisbeck .

For more information or to purchase tickets about the Truckee performance, visit tahoesafealliance.org. For more information on the South Lake Tahoe performance,
visit ltcc.edu.

Feb. 16 | 6 p.m. | $20 
Community Art Center | Truckee

Feb. 23 & 24 | 8 p.m.
Lake Tahoe Community College | South Lake Tahoe