Fifth year of The Vagina Monologues at Rutgers University Opens Thursday

by Jackie Weisser

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Benny Del Castillo has seen the powerful effects of the show The Vagina Monologues first-hand. One of her favorite parts of being in the production is the responses. The most memorable reaction for Del Castillo was when she was contacted by an old high school friend after he had seen the show.

“He messaged me telling me that after he saw the show it made him think of how he viewed women,” said Del Castillo. “He said that he thought about his past decisions surrounding his relationships and apologized to the women.”

This type of response is what the play hopes to produce.  “It sparked a thought and conversation and ultimately educated on an important issue,” said Del Castillo.

Del Castillo, a 2013 Rutgers graduate who studied Women’s and Gender Studies and Psychology will be directing the production for the second year in a row.  Del Castillo now works at a domestic violence agency as a case manager at their safe house.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday the Office for Violence Prevention and Victim Assistance will sponsor its 5th year of The Vagina Monologues at Rutgers University.  All of the profits made from the show will be donated. Part of the proceeds will go to the non-profit Vday.org’s Spotlight Campaign of the year “One Billion Rising for Justice” and the other part to the Middlesex County Center for Empowerment, the rape crisis center for women in the county.

The VPVA provides direct service to Rutgers students, faculty, and staff focusing on interpersonal crimes including sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking, and harassment.  Additionally, the VPVA provides counseling and legal advocacy, including crisis intervention. The office has a Domestic Violence Response Team as well as a Sexual Assault Response Team.  There are education programming and awareness campaigns throughout the year.  The VPVA provides a space for speakers, performances, and art projects where survivors are able to create pieces of art.

“For April, The Vagina Monologues is the main event,” said Brady Root, Prevention Education Coordinator.

While this is the fifth year of the production at Rutgers, audiences can expect a different experience than the previous years.

“The play was written by Eve Ensler with over 200 women that shared their stories about their lives or the violence they experienced or about their experience with their vaginas,” said Root.  “What changes is the compilation of the monologues.”  Not only will the order of the monologues being performed be different than previous years, but the actresses performing are carefully chosen for each monologue to make the production one-of-a-kind.

“We try to keep the monologues very natural and unique to the actress,” said Del Castillo. “This is what makes the show different every year even with the same monologues. We like to break boundaries while casting.”

The audition process begins with the first two weeks of the spring semester to give the large cast and crew plenty of time to prepare.

“This year there are over 45 members of the production,” said Root. “We try to include as many people as possible.”

Del Castillo acted in the show one year but said that she never really considered herself an actress.

“To have this opportunity to direct was amazing,” said Del Castillo. “Directing such passionate women is an amazing experience because you have a hand in providing education and most importantly creating a safe space for expression and discovery.”

Del Castillo said people can expect to laugh, cry, be angry, and ultimately empowered.

“A big component in The Vagina Monologues is the activism,” said Del Castillo. “Keeping in mind the reason we have this show is we love to see passionate people who are willing to learn more and educate others as well. I am a true believer in the power of education. I view this production as a powerful tool in raising awareness and educating about violence against women and how to stop it.”

The show will be at the Busch Campus Center Multipurpose Room at 8 P.M. Doors open at 7:30 P.M. and all tickets are $5.  Follow The Vagina Monologues at Rutgers University- a V-Day Benefit Production on Facebook for updates.

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