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Vulvapalooza 

click to enlarge Mourka performing in the 2008 production of "The Vagina Monologues."
  • Mourka performing in the 2008 production of "The Vagina Monologues."

It's more than 10 years since Eve Ensler premiered her string of interconnected monologues celebrating that singular aspect of the female anatomy at a small theater in the West Village, spawing the global V-Day Movement that has raised over $50 million for women's anti-voilence groups through performances of "The Vagina Monologues." For two nights this month, a troupe of 12 local women will perform the "Monologues," directed by Eva Tenuto, at the Rosendale Theater in a benefit for HOPE's Fund, a local women's support and empowerment organization.

The actresses include many local notables, including Sue Zimet (politician), Joan Morgan (author), Julie Novak (musician and New York House art director), Sharon Breslau (actress), and Kimberly Kay (radio personality.) Melissa Leo, who appeared in last year's production, was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Frozen River.
The play itself, at turns hilarious and deeply disturbing, is the product of 200 interviews Ensler conducted with women about their views on sex, relationships, and violence against women. (Personal favorite line, said in the context of a woman examining herself via a mirror at a get-to-know-your-anatomy workshop: "I have lost my clitoris! I shouldn't have worn it swimming!")

As celebrated as the "Monologues" are, they do have their detractors. The conservative group American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property has denounced the play as "a piece replete with sexual encounters, lust, graphic descriptions of masturbation, and lesbian behavior." To which one might reasonably ask: what's not to like?

"The Vagina Monologues" will be staged at the Rosendale Theater on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 8pm. A benefit for HOPE's Fund, admission is $25 for general seating and $50 for a VIP ticket, which includes a pre-show reception, T-shirt, and membership to HOPE's Fund. To purchase advance tickets, contact the United Way of Ulster County. (845) 331-4199; cooperc@hvc.rr.com.

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