Feminist playwright to visit

The Baltimore Sun

Westminster Mayor Tom Ferguson said he never imagined he would find himself welcoming to town the author of a play as candid and jarring as The Vagina Monologues.

But feminist playwright Eve Ensler, who promotes her work around the world, is coming to Carroll Community College for a local rendition of her play Friday.

It is the county's fifth performance of The Vagina Monologues, and organizers said they have been hoping for years to lure Ensler here. Still, given Ensler's celebrity and worldwide travels, activist and organizer Sylviea Tejeda can't believe the celebrated playwright is visiting.

"It's a real coup," said Tejeda, of Westminster. "I know [Ensler's] pain and suffering initiated this worldwide movement. I wanted to thank her for how she transformed my life."

Penned as a one-woman show more than a decade ago, Ensler's revolutionary play has taken college campuses by storm, been translated into at least 24 languages and staged in more than 100 countries, in connection with the "V-Day" movement she started to end violence against women and girls.

Ensler based her now ubiquitous monologues on interviews with more than 200 women worldwide on probing topics such as orgasm, childbirth, sexual abuse and the discomfort of pelvic examinations. Between Feb. 1 and March 8, more than 3,000 V-Day events took place in more than 1,120 communities and college campuses across the world.

"We're still living in a culture which doesn't celebrate, honor and hold women sacred," Ensler said in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. "We're progressing, but we still have a long way to go. This is a way to celebrate women and life itself."

Tejeda said she has wanted to bring Ensler to Westminster since she watched a captivating performance of the play at Gettysburg College seven years ago. Tejeda said she met Ensler last fall at the opening of an eating-disorders clinic at Sheppard Pratt Health System in Towson.

"She was gracious enough to say she would come," Tejeda said.

At Friday's performance, Tejeda will present Ensler with a "Vagina Warrior" award, which honors female activists working in their communities.

Ensler will be in Washington on Thursday night to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Men Can Stop Rape organization.

This year, the V-Day performances focus on raising money for women in war zones. Ensler has just returned from benefit performances in Haiti and will travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May to combat wartime sexual violence.

Tejeda hopes that about 600 will attend the performance at the Carroll Community College amphitheater. She has assembled friends to perform the monologues, which will be accompanied by drumming and belly-dancing. Tejeda said about 300 tickets have been sold.

Proceeds from the tickets, which are $20, will benefit Carroll County Family & Children's Services, Granite House and a program to rebuild schools for girls in Afghanistan, Tejeda said.


"The Vagina Monologues" performance is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at the Carroll Community College amphitheater, preceded by a peace vigil at 6 p.m. Tickets or information: Sylviea Tejeda, 410-848-5679.

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