Putting art into action, local women are giving three fundraising performances of The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler in The Black Box, Waring Street, in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter on 25, 26 and 27 June. With an entirely voluntary cast and crew, proceeds will be donated to Belfast Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre.  Doors open at 7.30pm for performance at 8pm. Tickets will be available on the door for £7/ 5 concession.

Having lost all of its governmental funding, Belfast Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre is struggling to keep its doors open.  This event aims to raise awareness of the desperate financial situation the centre is in.  Paula Wynburne, Fundraiser at the centre says every penny raised is sorely needed,

“Unfortunately the numbers of calls to the centre increase year on year. Our work also includes accompanying women to court, social services, police, in fact anything they need.  Our holistic approach has put great strain on our meagre funds and outreach and education work has had to be cut, as has the vital training of new volunteers to answer the phone.”

A VaginART Exhibition will run alongside the performances in The Black Box, featuring exciting work from local artists. The exhibition will also be open to the general public at The Black Box from 9am-6pm on 26 and 27 June.  Following the final performance on 27 June, at 10pm there will be a vaginART auction, where several exceptional pieces of work will be sold, in aid of the Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Centre.

Producers, Camel Hartley and Emilie Weiderud, see Ensler’s play as art for social change, “There is still far too little being done to highlight the prevalence of violence against women in our society and consequently a lack of funding to help victims of rape and sexual violence. All over the world women are performing The Vagina Monologues to raise money for projects in their community. We are proud to bring this remarkable play to Belfast.”

For the performers, The Vagina Monologues is seen as a rite of passage, for the audience, a powerful theatre experience. The producers promise it will not only raise funds and awareness but many laughs and quite a few eyebrows. This play will keep being performed until the violence stops.

Further details of the Belfast production of The Vagina Monologues can be found at www.myspace.com/areyoucoming. Group rates are being offered for NI women’s groups. Belfast Rape Crisis Centre’s Helpline is 02890 329002 or visit, www.rapecrisini.co.uk

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