Keith Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Cast member Linda Chamberlain performs in "The Vagina Monologues" during a dress rehearsal on the SLCC South Campus.

"The Vagina Monologues."

The title may shock some people, but the production actually addresses serious topics that affect women — such as sexual assault — and, according to Utah colleges producing the play, proceeds help fund crisis centers for women and other charities to help abused women.

"People are so against this production because they really don't know what it's about. It's the title that puts people off," said Carmell Hoopes-Clark, director of "The Vagina Monologues" at Orem's Utah Valley State College.

Written by Eve Ensler, the production is different monologues presented by women onstage. The words are based on stories from real women. Each year an additional monologue is added to bring attention to a new worldwide issue that affects women.

"It doesn't shy away from any issue in a woman's life," Hoopes-Clark said.

Ensler allows colleges to use her script for free in February as a way to raise money for local agencies that combat violence against women.

While the negativity is gradually declining each year the production is shown, UVSC presenters are prepared for controversy and complaints.

Hoopes-Clark says every year, people tear down the posters advertising the dramatic presentation. And there are discouraging phone calls from the public.

"They call and say it's a pornographic production and the school shouldn't allow for it to be performed on campus," said Hoopes-Clark, who is also president of UVSC's gender studies club.

This is the fifth year a UVSC student club has done the production. Funds will go to the Center for Women and Children in Crisis in Provo.

Last year, almost 400 people attended and $1,000 was donated to the House of Hope in Provo, a home for women recovering from substance abuse.

Around the state, presenters of the monologues say they have received flak from the public regarding the play, but the negative feedback has diminished.

This is the second year for the production by a student group at Salt Lake Community College. Last year, 600 people attended two performances, raising $4,000 for three academic scholarships, including books and child care, for students who had survived either domestic violence or sexual assault.

Linda Chamberlain, SLCC's campus coordinator for the production, said some student groups threatened to protest the play last year, but they never showed up. She said there have been no complaints about the play this year.

"We are surprised and pleased," Chamberlain said. "Maybe there has been more education about this issue."

The production is in its fifth year at Weber State University and has not generated any complaints, said Caril Jennings, WSU's marketing director for the department of performing arts. "It has been well-received," she said.

WSU's production proceeds last year went to Your Community Connection in Ogden.

Westminster College performed the play for the fifth year a few weeks ago, raising $12,000 for the local Rape Recovery Center. A student group at the University of Utah raised $2,000 for YWCA of Salt Lake City with its recent production. There were no problems, said Simon Lee, associate director of the presenter's office at the U of U.

"The title is a little abrasive," Lee said. "But these are social issues people need to address and know about."

Student groups at Southern Utah University in Cedar City have performed it for several years with no mishapsproblems. Utah State University students successfully put on the play once a couple years ago, drama officials said.

Theater officials at Dixie State College in St. George said student groups have never presented the play — just hadn't considered it — but it could happen in the future.


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