By Austin Wolfe
York College’s Center for Community Engagement, along with YWCA’s Junior Board of Directors, cosponsored a performance of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at 7 p.m. Feb. 16 at The Strand-Capital Theatre in downtown York. Coordinated worldwide by the organization V-Day, The Vagina Monologues is a series of stories covering topics ranging from femininity, sexuality and identity to misogyny, rape and women’s rights.
“It’s been nice to see the students get involved in supporting the YWCA,” said Nick McConnell, director of operations for the Center of Community Engagement. “Students are becoming activists and advocates for women’s rights here in York.”
After an introduction from YWCA, York CEO Jean Treuthart and the cast—Elena Alvarado, Jessica Bennet, Sydney Benson, Toni Calderone, Carla Christopher, Kristen Evans, Rachel Eyster, Meagan Feeser, Sara Goodwin, Hannnah Holliway, Katherine Walsh, Rita Whitney and Emily Wilson—performed monologues in front of a sold-out crowd. At times, the monologues garnered laughter and cheer. A resounding silence echoed at other times.
“[To prepare for the role] I partially pulled from my own experiences as a survivor,” said cast member and Put People First regional coordinator Carla Christopher. “But then, I read the words over and over again. I had to lose myself in the story. These are real women; you are telling real women’s stories, giving them voices—voices that have been silenced for too long.”
In addition to raising awareness for violence-against-women prevention programs, the show worked to normalize open discussion of female sexuality.
“College students only have so much experience in their life,” said director Karin Swartz. “So to have a cast of women with such varying experiences really gives the show depth. It was something we [Swartz and director Emily Wilson] felt the community, especially the college community, need to experience.”
After the show, the cast hosted an exclusive question and answer session with York College students and staff. This exclusive access was yet another attempt in YCP’s Center for Community Engagement’s continued efforts to encourage YCP students to engage with downtown York’s cultural offerings.
“What we are looking to do is get our students connected with various resources throughout York City,” said McConnell. “Our goal is to get students acquainted with The Strand and other performing arts centers, visual art centers, restaurants, shops—we want students to be able to explore York City and find a community outside of the walls of the campus.”
York College’s involvement with the event continues their public support of YWCA and the advancement of women’s rights advocacy within York’s community. Since 1891, YWCA York has been advocating for equal rights under the mission of a “dedication to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”
For more information for about YWCA’s upcoming events visit www.ywcayork.org.