Women across the globe have suffered violence and abuse for centuries, but at least now they have a day.
When writer/activist Eve Ensler initiated V-Day in 1998, women jumped at the opportunity to join her campaign to stop the mistreatment of women.
The movement stemmed from the success of Ensler's award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, which she originally performed as a one-woman show inspired by interviews with women on love, sex, abuse and, of course, the vagina.
The piece is now being performed in nearly 2,000 worldwide V-Day celebrations on or around Valentine's Day to raise funds for local anti-violence groups.
"This is an incredibly important beginning," said Nina Mirza, 25, a performer in Brooklyn Park's V-Day celebration. "It's laying down a great foun- dation for others to take the lead."
Mirza, a theater student at Towson University, has been working alongside several other actresses and director Starr Lucas to create a rendition of Ensler's work premiering at Villa Julie College on March 19.
Aside from societal benefits, performers say they can make personal connections with the material they are performing. "My Short Skirt," being performed by Mirza, taps into the idea that women who show too much are asking for trouble.
"I wear what I want, and I expect to be treated like everyone else," she said.
Lucas chose the House of Ruth as the beneficiary for the performance because of the organization's services such as counseling, transitional housing and intervention.
Allison Houseworth, coordinator of Baltimore's V-Day, also chose the House of Ruth to receive the profits of a March 8 presentation being produced and performed by interns of Center Stage.
"Participating in the show and simultaneously helping an organization is enthralling," she said. "It's a young cast, and we hope to bring in young people from Baltimore; that's where you really start to make a difference."
Brooklyn Park's V-Day cast, which includes Laura Williams, 60, has a more diverse age range.
Williams came into the performance eager to pursue a new and different role but eventually connected with the piece on a more personal level than she expected. She believes viewers will have a similar experience.
"You sit there and go, 'Yes,' 'Uh-huh,' 'Me too,'" she said. "You begin to reflect on your own experiences and realize you're not just a party of one anymore."
Unless otherwise noted, visit www.vday.org for further information.
Feb. 19-22: Johns Hopkins University's V-Day at Arellano Theatre, 3400 N. Charles St. To benefit the House of Ruth. Tickets $5-$10. 8 p.m.
Feb. 20-22: University of Maryland, College Park's V-Day at Tawes Theatre, 1136 Stamp Student Union. To benefit the UMCP Victim Advocate and My Sister's Place. Tickets $10; 8 p.m. Call 301-405-ARTS.
Feb. 25-26: Towson State University's V-Day at Potomac Lounge, 8000 Potomac Road. To benefit the Family Crisis Center. Tickets $5; times vary.
Feb. 27-28: Frostburg State University's V-Day at the Performing Arts Center, 101 Braddock Road. To benefit the Family Crisis Center/The DOVE Center. Tickets $5-$10; 8 p.m. Call 301-687-7462.
March 8: Baltimore's V-Day at Baltimore Theatre Project, 45 W. Preston St. To benefit the House of Ruth. Tickets $15; 8 p.m.
March 10-11: Loyola College's V-Day at McManus Theatre, 4501 N. Charles St. To benefit the House of Ruth. Tickets $10; 8 p.m.
March 19: Brooklyn Park's V-Day at Villa Julie College's Inscape Theatre, 1525 Greenspring Valley Road. To benefit the House of Ruth. Tickets $5-$10; 8 p.m.
For more theater, classical music and dance events, see Page 38.