Jamie Gordon is not sure how The Vagina Monologues will be received when it debuts in the Nicola Valley this weekend, but whatever happens, she sees it as only the first step.
Gordon is the driving force behind two performances of The Vagina Monologues on Friday and Saturday evening at the Culture Club.
“Believe me, if I'm still in Merritt, I'll be planning this for next year, bigger and better,” says Gordon. “This is the foundation that we'll be going from.”
Performances of the play are central to V-Day, an international campaign against violence towards women and girls.
Gordon explains that V-Day is promoted from Feb. 14 until the end of April.
“We'll be one of the last shows globally.”
Written by Eve Ensler in 1996, the show, true to its name, features a series of monologues, all of which are related in some way to the vagina. Ensler interviewed 200 women about their views on sex and their personal experiences.
Pressed for details, Gordon says, “We want to leave it suspenseful so people want to see it.”
Ten women from Merritt, including Gordon, were cast for the production. She says she was pleased to find so many volunteers. An 11th woman from Kamloops rounds out the cast.
“Our youngest cast member is 17 and I won't tell you how old our oldest cast member is.”
Although the play often deals with serious issues like physical and emotional abuse, even those portions end on a light note and some of the monologues are strictly humorous, she adds.
“You're just on the floor gutting yourself.” Most of the proceeds from the shows, 90 per cent, will support ASK Wellness' SHOP (Social and Health Options for Persons in the Sex Trade) program.
The remaining 10 per cent will go towards V-Day initiatives in general. Specifically, the V-Day campaign aims to help women in Haiti this year.
Chelsea Morrey, the local SHOP representative, says the performances, as well as V-Day in general, will touch Nicola Valley residents personally and help them realize that the problems brought up in the play also exist locally.
“It brings awareness to a lot of issues that a lot of people think we don't even have.”
Gordon says she hopes for a large turnout on both nights, from men and women alike. She admits that she is unsure how well a show like The Vagina Monologues will do in a small town like Merritt but says the process has gone smoothly so far.
She adds that part of the show's purpose is to break down taboos, especially with the word “vagina” itself.
“You got to come at it with joy.”
Morrey agrees. “The word vagina is not a black word.”
Gordon says that she decided to bring The Vagina Monologues to the Nicola Valley after she watched the most recent V-Day production in Kamloops.
“It's never been here before in Merritt, so I decided to take it on,” she says.
Now in its seventh year, the Kamloops V-Day event has raised over $70,000 for programs there, Gordon adds.
There, V-Day includes promotional items like gel bracelets that read “Vagina Friendly” and pins that declare, “I love vaginas.”
Gordon's high school classmate, Rebecca McLean, organizes V-Day in Kamloops and eagerly lent her support to the Merritt production of The Vagina Monologues.
“It's kind of neat that we went to high school…and then connected again,” says Gordon.
“She's travelled every Sunday from Kamloops to go to every rehearsal for the last seven weeks.
“It's her knowledge and enthusiasm that inspired me to do this.”
McLean will serve as the master of ceremonies for the evening.
The Vagina Monologues performances take place at the Culture Club, formerly the Capital soundstage at Iron Mountain Music, on Granite Avenue Friday and Saturday. The doors open at 6 p.m. and the curtain goes up at 7 p.m.
Tickets are available from Gordon at 250-280-3403 or through ASK Wellness, either at their office at Tradewinds on Granite Avenue or by calling 250-315-0098.