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V-Day Bay Ridge to perform ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to raise funds to fight domestic abuse

Playwright Eve Ensler’s seminal work, “The Vagina Monologues,” will be brought to life in Bay Ridge, not by Broadway stars, but by a group of local women determined to use the arts to fight domestic abuse.

The group V-Day Bay Ridge is organizing its third annual staged reading of “The Vagina Monologues” on Sun., Feb. 17, at Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, 7420 Fourth Ave., at 5 p.m. The doors will open at 4:30 p.m.

All of the funds raised at the reading will be donated to STEPS to End Family Violence, an organization that helps victims of domestic abuse, according to V-Day Bay Ridge leaders.

“This year will be our most ambitious event because of past years success,” V-Day Bay Ridge member Devon Morales told this newspaper in an email. “Last year we held two performances at Owl’s Head Wine Bar which is a pretty intimate setting. We had a total of about 50 attendees on both days. We had so many extra requests for tickets that we had to turn away because of capacity that we decided last year we needed to find a bigger venue for V-Day 2019. We are also able to have more fun with staging and props this year, where as in the past we have just done seated ‘table reads’ with no real stage direction.”

Morales is producing and directing the production.

The Bay Ridge get-together is part of a worldwide phenomenon centering on Ensler’s 1996 play dealing with sex and body image as seen through the eyes of women of various ages, races and sexual preferences.

Each February, groups of women in cities and small towns all over the globe organize staged readings of “The Vagina Monologues” to raise awareness of sexual violence and domestic abuse.

Now in its 21st year, worldwide V-Day has raised millions of dollars for rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, programs to assist transgender youth at risk of sexual violence, and organizations helping immigrant women and girls, according to V-Day Bay Ridge leaders.

V-Day Bay Ridge’s reading of “The Vagina Monologues” will be followed by “talk backs” with the audience by activists working against domestic violence. The speakers will include Evie Litwok, founder and director of Witness to Mass Incarceration, and Julia Shaw of STEPS to End Family Violence.

There is a reason D-Day Bay Ridge chose STEPS to End Family Violence as this year’s recipient, Morales said.

“Every year, the worldwide V-Day organization, which we are a part of, chooses a spotlight for fundraising purposes. This year the spotlight is on ‘Women in prison, detention centers and the formerly incarcerated.’ STEPS is doing amazing work around a variety of issues we support, like education and prevention of intimate partner violence. But the main reason we chose them as our beneficiary is the work they do through their Criminalized Survivors Program. This program is centered around survivors of abuse who have been arrested and criminalized for their efforts to survive or resist their abusive partners,” Morales said.

“We are thrilled to partner with V-Day Bay Ridge on this project,” Shaw, director of the Criminalized Survivors Program, said in a statement. “At STEPS, we are committed to being part of efforts like these to elevate the stories of survivors of intimate partner violence and other forms of gender-based violence, particularly survivors who have been criminalized and who face harsh punishment just for trying to stay alive.”

V-Day Bay Ridge has set a fundraising goal of $2,000 for the Feb. 17 event. But Morales said she feels confident the group will exceed the goal.

For more information, visit V-Day Bay Ridge’s Facebook page.

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