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The Vagina Monologues returns to Columbia to fight violence against women

Believe it or not, it has been less than six years since a lawmaker in Michigan was banned from speaking because she had the temerity to use the word “vagina.” This weekend in Columbia, women will say it loudly, and no one will make them stop.

V-Day Soda City will present The Vagina Monologues Friday-Sunday at Tapp’s Art Center, with all proceeds from the performances going to benefit Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. The show consists of a series of monologues in the voices of women who have undergone funny, tragic and enlightening experiences involving their vaginas—monologues showing the audience that a woman is so much more than the sum of her parts.

Director Shirley McGuinness said those new to the play, written by Eve Ensler, should expect “Explosive language, frank language, realistic situations.” She added that “Most times people want to sanitize even realistic situations,” but this play does anything but.

“There’s one section where it literally just names some of the things women have called their vaginas,” former director Dayna Smith said.

This is the 16th year old the Soda City production of the play, made possible by Ensler’s decision to allow any group to put on the show in the month of February without paying royalties, so long as they donate proceeds to an organization dedicated to fighting violence against women. Ensler founded the V-Day

“There’s no other playwright who does what she does,” Smith said. In addition to that gift to the cause of stopping violence, Ensler updates her play annually, making changes to suit events and attitudes, and keeping the script relevant, though it was originally written more than 20 years ago.

“This year the theme is rise, resist and unite,” McGuinness said. “Ensler recognizes, in my opinion, the grassroots movement surrounding this piece. Our Soda City spin will include three testimonies.”

The cast of the Soda City production includes 16 women, several of whom are survivors of violence. The performances are set for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the Tapp’s website.

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