An area organization’s coming production is aimed at healing and assisting survivors of domestic violence in Franklin County.
The Willow Domestic Violence Center is set to present the globally-performed play “The Vagina Monologues” to raise funds for itself, as well as V-Day, an organization dedicated to ending violence against women. The production’s two shows are planned for 7:30 p.m. April 18 and 8 p.m. April 20 at the Plaza Grill and Cinema, 209 S. Main St., Ottawa.
“The women that get involved tend to build this relationship that they never realize they had, considering the fact that 1 in 3 women will be affected by some type of sexual violence in their lifetime, which is a really huge number ... that in reality is much greater because only 1 in 3 women actually report it,” Melissa Clissold, who is organizing the play to benefit the Willow, said. “The fundraising is awesome and the awareness is really important, but the healing of the women that get involved is what it’s all about.”
“The Vagina Monologues,” an episodic play written by activist and playwright Eve Ensler, is performed between Feb. 1 and April 30 around the world to benefit organizations that combat violence against women. For the play, Clissold said, Ensler interviewed dozens of women about their experiences, which inspired the various monologues in the show.
Clissold obtained rights to use the script on the terms that the Willow keep 90 percent of the event’s proceeds, with the remainder going to V-Day, Clissold said. All area women are welcome to join in the production, Clissold said, adding that an information meeting is planned for 6 p.m., Wednesday at GreatLife Golf and Fitness’ clubhouse, 1001 E. Logan St., Ottawa.
“Any local women who are interested in being in the production in any way are welcome to join,” Clissold, Williamsburg, said. “I don’t turn anyone away.”
Clissold, who has organized the production several times before, is particularly thrilled about offering the show in Franklin County. After living in Michigan for several years, Clissold said, she hopes her hometown will respond enthusiastically to the play.
“I’m pretty excited about the opportunity to bring ‘The Vagina Monologues’ to Ottawa,” Clissold said, adding it’s the first time she’s organized the play in Franklin County. “My goal is to raise $5,000. ... Ottawa and the Franklin County area is very generous so I’d like to raise that for [the organizations].”
Frequently, Clissold said, people are deterred from attending the show because of its title.
“Some people hesitate to come because the word ‘vagina,’ which is addressed in the show,” Clissold said. “It’s not a word you expect to use on a daily basis or expect to hear.
“And when they hear it, they think it is a bad show,” she said. “It’s not a bad show. It’s a show about real women.”
After years of conducting the production, Clissold said the most satisfying part of the experience is dealing with the women.
“What I’ve found in the past four years when I’ve done this show is that it’s not just the fundraising that becomes very gratifying,” Clissold said. “It’s the women that get involved — they each have their own story.”