Jennifer Harrison hopes to demystify the V word.
The dedicated co-leader of youth employment agency the Pathway Project has made it her mission to help vulnerable women — and she believes staging the West Shore’s first production of the Vagina Monologues help do just that.
“The Vagina Monologues is about a vulnerable population of people. I think it was (for me), a natural next step to want to bring this to the community,” Harrison said.
“Working in the western communities for about nine years, I have had the opportunity to support some of the vulnerable population in the West Shore. We have limited services, and the services we do have, we have to support.”
Written bye Eve Ensler, the monologue is part of V-Day, a movement created to stop violence against women and girls. Based on her interviews with women, the play addresses topics including women’s sexuality and the stigma behind rape and abuse.
Translated into 48 languages in more than 140 countries, the Vagina Monologues were performed more than 5,800 times in 2011 and despite a title that has lead to confusion in the past, Harrison hopes stigmas are broken down and people look past the word and embrace its message.
“I encourage community members to approach this with inquisitiveness as opposed to judgement,” Harrison said. “Just the process of doing this, right from the production to the play (has been) incredibly empowering.”
Isabelle Reader Theatre plays host to the March 31 performance and silent auction where 90 per cent of the proceeds go to the Langford-based Pacific Centre Family Services Association, whose executive director Mitzi Dean welcomed the initiative and performance with open arms.
“We (are) really proud and enthusiastic to be part of the project,” Dean said. “We have a long history of working with Jen. We know it is sincere and genuine that it is in the interest of the community and that is the primary focus. We share those principles.”
For Harrison those principles are why the Vagina Monologues will make a difference and she hopes the community helps support the production by filling the 300-seat theatre.
“I love the thought of empowering young women in (our) communities,” Harrison said. “Especially teaching young women how to find the assertiveness and the power within themselves to speak on behalf of what they need and what they want.”
For women looking to get involved in the performance, auditions take place Monday Feb. 6 at WorkLink’s Pathway Project, 847 Goldstream Ave. (behind Tim Hortons) at 5:30 p.m. Candidates must be female but no acting or performing experience is required.