Daphne is my streetcar neighbour hoody friend. I met her long ago when our boys were young. Occasionally we ride and briefly chat on the TTC, mostly about work, nothing else. Sometimes months would pass without seeing Daphne on the streetcar. I missed having a friendly face in transit. One February morning as we pressed among the throngs of street car riders, Daphne told me she was producing a V day benefit theatre production. Daphne had every thing in control. A whole cast of women and volunteers had given their time and talent to help direct and perform from a group of monologues. “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer, is a ground breaking collection of monologues by world renowned authors and playwrights edited by Eve Ensler and Molly Doyle. ” How fascinating and brave I thought. I knew VDay was associated with the Vagina Monologues, but I couldn’t recall how. I told Daphne about my blog and promised to write about the event.
That night I had to dust off my copy of the Vagina Monologues and re- read it. It was just as refreshing and empowering as it was the first time I read it. I saw the Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues in late 1990’s; but I had forgotten the whole host of books and events associated with V-day. I was reminded that V day is a global activist movement with aim of ending violence against women and girls. During a subsequent streetcar ride in the depth of winter, Daphne confessed she had never done anything like this before, and she was creating it all with people she had just met and with things that she didn’t have to pay for. I was thrilled to hear our neighbourhood restaurants were on board as sponsors. I was charmed by the technology of Eventbrite facilitating the event’s ticket management and tickled that the donated theatre space was aptly named ” The Box”.
I found the Box nestled off the beaten track of Spadina Avenue, in an industrial alcove of buildings. A little utilitarian space which could function for a multitude of events, but on this crisp cold and very bright winter March afternoon, it was a theater seating no more than 50 people. I settled into my seat to read the programme. There was a trigger warning, it read “This content deals with violence and sexual assault and may be triggering to some people.” If you translated Canadian statistics for all the women sitting in theatre at least 50% of the women in the room could be triggered by the performance. “According to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime.”
The performance was a series of soliloques representative of women from around the world and across cultures. The actors portrayed the women with a tormented honesty as the solemn bass celloist transitioned the characters through performances and readings: a juxtaposition of pain and silence against voices of strength & survival. The monologues were hateful & amusing, heart rendering & funny, disturbing & thoughtful. The 9 monologues were considerately chosen from a score of 50. The monlogues communicated the distress of betrayal, the agony of rejection and debasement of violence. The truth of violence against women and girls is shameful and the point of these performances is that these stories should be heard by all.
Eve Ensler believes that these performances and others have the capacity to restructure your thoughts and effect change, so much so that Eve Ensler gives the rights to her plays and other works specifically created for VDay to groups around the world. She allows the proceeds of the performances to go to local individual projects and programs that work to end violence against women and girls, mostly shelters and rape crisis centres. The Vagina Monologues was one event in 1998 that raised $250, 000.00. Today there are over 5,800 V-Day events annually which raises awareness and millions of dollars globally.
Daphne had the passion, the people and the place to produce and direct a theatre production where 90% of the proceeds from their performance of a Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer went to the Street Haven At the Cross Roads in Toronto. The remaining 10% of the proceeds went to to the VDay campaign One Billion for Justice
The efforts of these women was truly inspirational to me. So through my creative endeavour of writing, I keep my promise. In the sprit of raising consciousness and bringing awareness to the need of ending the violence perpetuated against women and girls I post this blog and spread the word.
Thank you Daphne and see you on the King Car !