Later this month, "A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer," will also be presented by the Empanadas.

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FARMINGTON — The annual performance of The Vagina Monologues opens this weekend in conjunction with an international movement called V-Day, which aims to end violence against women and girls.

The play, written by Eve Ensler, takes place annually and consists of 26 different monologues performed by 22 women and two men who make up a local acting group called The Empanadas.

This year's performance is being organized by Empanada member Annette DiGiacomo.

"Most of the proceeds from this year's play will go to Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico and New Beginnings," said DiGiacomo.

New Beginnings is a transitional program that helps women and children who are survivors of domestic violence.

Janie Felix is directing the play for the second year in a row.

"Even if you have seen the play before, The Vagina Monologues are always new because of new women giving different interpretations of the pieces," she said. "Several are not-before-seen pieces this year."

Rachel Glicker Duggins is this year's assistant director. She said many of the pieces are humorous, but others deal with serious topics such as rape. All of them, however, focus on hope and on ways women have managed to survive and overcome.

"At the end, there's a beautiful ray of hope and growth," she said. "It's what women have gone through, but it also shows what they did to deal with the situation."

DiGiacomo said one of the main purposes of The Vagina Monologues is to de-stigmatize women's bodies and make it acceptable for them to talk about their body parts, which will hopefully lead to them being more likely to report violence when it happens instead of feeling shame.

"You'd be amazed how many places have said we can't put up a poster because of the word 'vagina.' People feel that they just can't talk about it," she said.

The acting group also was forced to change its performance venue when the Timberline Church in Aztec pulled out less than two weeks before the play was scheduled to open.

"The church had agreed, but they are blanketed under another church and when someone from that church googled the play, they told Timberline they couldn't allow us to hold it there," she said.

DiGiacomo said the cast pulled together and within 24 hours they had secured the Courtyard by Marriott in Farmington for the play.

"Because most of the proceeds go to Sexual Assault Services and New Beginnings, we wanted to keep the cost low, and thanks to the people at Marriott giving us a discount and the cast donating to make up the difference, we were able to do that," said Duggins. "It was beautiful and encouraging. Annette wasn't willing to give up – she persisted."

The Timberline Church declined to comment for this article.

One of the monologues is entitled "My Vagina is My Village," and will be performed by B.J. Nelson. The piece is the result of interviews with 27 female Bosnian refugees.

"Rape is a systematic tactic of war, and I'll be reading the tale of one particular Bosnian woman who suffered for seven days while men repeatedly raped her. This only happened in the 1990's so it's very recent. I get very emotional about it."

Later this month, "A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer," will also be presented by the Empanadas.

"It's also about women and what we go through, but it's gets a lot deeper and makes you think harder," said DiGiacomo.

Duggins said it's rare to have someone performing in the play who has either not experienced some form of abuse or violence, or knows someone who has.

"Everyone is here for a reason, and it's comforting that you can talk about what happened to you openly – sometimes things you can't even talk about with your husband. It's a way of expressing and coming to terms with things, a way of helping ourselves and other women," she said.

DiGiacomo said her daughters are the main reason she wanted to be involved in The Vagina Monologues.

"As a mother, I want my girls to know it's OK to say 'no,' it's OK to report it if something happens to you, and it's not your fault," she said.

Added Duggins, "And that we will always believe you. It's never because of what you're wearing, it's never who you're with, it's never what you're drinking. It's never OK for someone to hurt you."

Leigh Black Irvin is the business editor for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621. 

IF YOU GO

What: The Vagina Monologues

When: 7:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17 and 18 (silent auction starts at 6:15 p.m.)

Where: The Courtyard by Marriott, 560 Scott Ave., Farmington

Cost: $10. Call 505-360-0569 for info.

What: A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant and a Prayer

When: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 24 and 25 (silent auction starts at 6:15 p.m.)

Where: The Courtyard by Marriott, 560 Scott Ave., Farmington

Cost: $10. Call 505-360-0569 for info. 

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