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McDaniel College students performing to raise money for Rape Crisis Intervention Services of Carroll County

Students will perform Eve Ensler's celebrated play on Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting Rape Crisis Intervention Services of Carroll County.
Students will perform Eve Ensler's celebrated play on Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting Rape Crisis Intervention Services of Carroll County. (Baltimore Sun)

McDaniel College students will continue their years-long tradition of performing “The Vagina Monologues” in association with V-Day, a global movement to stop violence against women and girls.

Performances of the staged reading take place Friday, Feb. 14, and Saturday, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m., in WMC Alumni Hall on campus. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door. Proceeds benefit Rape Crisis Intervention Service of Carroll County.

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More information about the international V-Day movement is available at www.vday.org.

McDaniel College junior Flannery Bendel-Simso, of Westminster, directs the performance.

Bendel-Simso said in news release from McDaniel College, “This show is essential both to me and to feminists everywhere because [playwright] Eve Ensler has given voice to women experiencing some of the most prevalent issues that we just don’t talk about enough."

Though it is student-led, the public is welcome and encouraged to attend the performance.

“Every time I’ve been involved with ‘The Vagina Monologues’ or seen ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ it’s been pretty formative and life-changing because the nature of the piece is that it makes you think about things that you don’t get the opportunity to really delve into most of the time," Bendel-Simso said in an interview.

“It’s really incredibly important that we do spend some time thinking about this and that we do let people talk about it. I don’t know anyone who’s seen ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and not been affected.”

The show includes 11 actors and two technicians. Much of the artistic direction process has been collaborative, and Bendel-Simso said she has tried not to get in the way of actors’ intuition. Ensler specifically instructs performers not to over-rehearse, she said.

Students on stage for the 2017 performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” The 2020 production will take place Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. in WMC Alumni Hall.
Students on stage for the 2017 performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” The 2020 production will take place Feb. 14 and 15 at 7 p.m. in WMC Alumni Hall. (Courtesy Photo)

As director, she took a somewhat curatorial role pairing actors with monologues that resonated with them. Her goal was to “amplify the voices that that needed amplification and give everyone a platform to tell stories that would be important to them," she said.

The release quotes Bendel-Simso as saying, “So many women have felt heard and seen with the knowledge that other women share their experiences and traumas, and bringing it out of the shadows is the first step toward making some real, lasting changes in the way society treats women, and how we treat ourselves.”

The end of the show will feature spotlight performances and survivor stories where those who have experienced sexual or gender-based violence and abuse are able to share their stories.

Bendel-Simso said the choice to share is personal and performers are free to change their minds about participating at any time. But when she has viewed or participated before, it has been “incredibly cathartic and beautiful and life changing and powerful.”

“There’s no other time when we, as a society, are encouraged to all sit in a dark room and hear someone talk about something traumatic that’s happened to them and just listen and heal together,” she said.

Counselors will be in attendance at the performance for audience members who need to contact someone.

Ensler developed the award-winning play based on interviews with more than 200 women. “With humor and grace, the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength,” according to the release.

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The Phenomenal Woman organization of McDaniel College is supporting and helping to organize the production. For more information, find the event on Facebook, call 410-857-4638 or email agelber@mcdaniel.edu.

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