While pre-publicity for "The Vagina Monologues" has received some side glances and questioning reactions due to its not-so-subtle title, the play, to be performed at Tennessee Tech University by the Tech Players on Feb. 14 as part of the national V-Day initiative, is really just a play that focuses on women and their trials, using both tragedy and comedy to get its point across.
"This is really an unusual play for the theater Ð the theater tends to be so male-oriented," says Mark Creter, director of the play and of the Backdoor Playhouse.
"But this play is really about trying to get people more comfortable talking about sexuality, about educating people about what it is to be a woman."
Of course Creter, as a man, has a different perspective. But he adds that his close relationships with women throughout his life Ð his grandmother, mother, and his wife Ð enable him to help direct an honest, sincere and entertaining performance of a play about women only.
"In a way, I'm almost jealous," he confesses. "This play is so intoxicating. It comes from a real genuine place Ð a place of love of women and their stories, even the hard stories."
The stories in the play range from a woman who learned to be comfortable with her body with the help of her boyfriend to accounts from Bosnian women who were repeatedly raped during the war.
"Eve Ensler's philosophy is that the more comfortable women can be with their bodies, the more proud they can be to claim their bodies and their sexuality, this will empower them. In turn, with women being more empowered, men will also be more empowered, and they will see women as human beings, not objects," Creter explains.
The play's cast is made up entirely of women Ð 24 to be exact. Most have university ties; they are either students or faculty members or members of the staff. But several women who have never before participated in the Backdoor Playhouse signed on to this performance because they saw the social significance, Creter said.
"There's this incredible bonding and support going on with the cast. Ultimately, this is a great project," Creter adds.
TTU's participation in V-Day, a national effort to raise awareness about violence against women and to find ways to end it, is co-sponsored by the Commission on the Status of Women. Following each performance at the Backdoor Playhouse, a public discussion and question and answer session about various women's issues, including violence against women, will be held with a panel of experts.
As part of the national V-Day initiative, "The Vagina Monologues" will also be performed in Tennessee at Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee campuses in Knoxville and Chattanooga.
Money raised at the TTU performances will be donated to the Tennessee Task Force Against Domestic Violence and its recently established Senator Tommy Burks Legal Defense Fund, a new program to combat domestic violence in the lives of Tennesseans.
A table in the Roaden University Center will be set up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb.13 and Wednesday, Feb. 14. Information about "The Vagina Monologues," the V-Day Initiative, services available through Genesis House for domestic violence victims and services offered by TTU's Women's Center will be distributed.
To find out more about the performance of "The Vagina Monologues," tune in to WTTU 88.5 FM on Monday, Feb. 12, from 3 to 4 p.m.when Creter along with Binney Stumpf and Colleen Hays, both members of the Commission on the Status of Women, will be interviewed on the live talk show, "Listen Up!" sponsored by the TTU Public Affairs Office and WTTU.Performances at the Backdoor Playhouse are set for Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. as part of the "V-Day 2001 College Initiative," and then again on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 10 p.m. and on Friday, Feb. 16, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $6 and $3 for students and senior citizens.