Syracuse Youth produce the Vagina Monologues

In the winter of 2006 a group of high school sophomores shared a book with their circle of friends.  The book was Eve Ensler’s award-winning play The Vagina Monologues, which has become the keystone for the international V-Day movement. After each read the book and discussed how it had individually impacted her, the group wished to share with everyone else the “V-Day experience.”  Katie Yates, this year’s organizer, noticed an advertisement for the V-Day campaign in the back of the book. It invited groups of women from all over the world to perform The Vagina Monologues. Toby Luft signed up to receive email updates about the Community Campaign, and, on September 26, 2006, they started planning their first production of the play.

They were “surprisingly successful” said Katie during one of their regular Sunday meetings. Last year they earned over $1000 for their beneficiaries, the Women’s Information Center and the Syracuse Peace Council, and upwards of 150 attended.

This year, the same group of young men and women is gearing up to organize another production.  Youth from all over the area are involved. Some are still in high school while others are recent graduates. While the process has gone well, there are always problems. “Our biggest struggle this year was finding a space. Last year, we were very lucky in being to be able to use May Memorial Church, but their calendar was full up for the month of March, and finding a home for our movement was very difficult, though, thankfully, we have found one.”

“My hope is that if we catch people when they’re young, they’ll understand that having a vagina is not a bad thing—that they’ll never be ashamed of themselves or who they are,” says Katie. “Producing the play is about more than just doing theater and having fun,” said Roxe, a director. “Mo [a co-director] and I want to use our and the actors’ talents to transfix the audience so that they bring the V-Day mission home and spread it through the rest of their lives.”

The kids of V-Day High Schools of Syracuse can be reached at vdaysyracuse1@yahoo.com, www.myspace.com/vdaysyracuse, or by calling Katie at (315) 727-4290. They hold weekly meetings every Sunday, 4-6 pm, at Sugar Pearl Espresso Bar, 600 Burnet Ave., or Recess Coffee House, 110 Harvard Pl. Everyone is welcome to attend. The Vagina Monologues will be performed March 28 and 29 at 7 pm at the Redhouse, 201 S. West St. Tickets will be available in February.

–Tobie Luft and Katie Yates, co-organizers of this year’s Syracuse High Schools production of the Vagina Monologues.