Howard Community College will join tomorrow night in a nationwide movement to shine the spotlight on violence against women.
The college will hold a V-Day celebration at 7:30 p.m. in the school's main dining room. The event, which will feature speakers, music, poetry and dramatic performances, is part of a campaign that includes performances of the award-winning play "The Vagina Monologues."
"We thought this would be a good opportunity to help a cause in an artistic and powerful way," said Valerie E. Costantini, chairwoman of arts and humanities at HCC. "To be able to do something powerful to help stop violence against girls and women and to be able to do it in a quality way using the many talented people we have here is something we should be doing."
"The Vagina Monologues" began four years ago as a one-woman performance written and acted by playwright Eve Ensler. Since its debut off-Broadway, the play has won an Obie Award and has attracted actresses such as Glenn Close, Jane Fonda and Calista Flockhart, who have performed vignettes from the play.
The success of the play - a collection of stories based on interviews Ensler conducted with women - sparked the V-Day movement, in which theatrical events are held across the country on Valentine's Day to raise money to stop violence against women.
HCC officials decided to bring the play to Columbia after student Denise Cumor attended a local performance of "The Vagina Monologues" and came away profoundly touched.
"I was kind of blown away by it," said Cumor, who will direct the play and whose cast is made up of students, staff members, faculty and alumni. "I thought for sure that this was something we should be doing at HCC."
Cumor took her idea to HCC officials, who then began the long process of securing the rights to perform the show. Sue Kramer, producer/director of student alumni arts, said that because the show is being performed off-Broadway, it took the school months to obtain permission to present it. The college's three performances, which began Saturday night, marked the first time an HCC production of that kind sold out in advance, and officials scrambled to put together a companion V-Day program that would have an emotional impact similar to the play's, Kramer said.
"They only let us know in mid-November that we would be able to do the play," Kramer said. "We looked around at all of the talent we have here at the college, and we picked people [for the V-Day celebration] we thought would want to be heard and folks we wanted to be heard."
The event will include performances by local band We're About 9, original poetry and dramatic readings from the play. Proceeds raised from V-Day will benefit the Sexual Trauma Treatment, Advocacy and Recovery (STTAR) Center in Columbia.
The V-Day celebration will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Howard Community College's main dining room. Tickets are $10 at the door. Information: 410-772-4515. Performances of "The Vagina Monologues" are sold out.