By George Basler
The issue of violence against women has been much in the news. Congress recently re-authorized the Violence Against Women Act. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is holding hearings on sexual abuse in the military. A rape and killing in India has prompted protest and self-examination in that country.
So a production taking place this coming weekend (March 8 and 9) in Binghamton is both timely and provocative.
KNOW Theatre, known for presenting challenging plays, is staging The MENding Monologues, a 90-minute play that explores violence against women and girls from the male perspective. The production, created by speaker and performer Derek Dujardin, features monologues that range in tone from humorous to deeply serious. Inspired by Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, the show has been performed across the country.
The monologues focus on what Dujardin calls “second-hand abuse,” or damage done to men via the abuse done to women in their lives.
“People tend to look at sexual violence as a women’s issue when it’s a human issue. MENding Monologues points out that men can be victims, too, and have a role in ending it,” said Amoreena Wade, a community educator and victims’ advocate at the Crime Victims Assistance Center.
Wade, who has acted at KNOW in the past, is producing the production and working closely with KNOW Executive Director Tim Gleason, who is co-directing along with Jason Hill and Angelyn Redstone.
For Wade, 31, the play is a deeply personal, as well as professional, experience. She was the victim of a sexual assault in her early 20s. While she is open about the assault, Wade won’t talk about details because, she said, the case is still in court.
But anyone who goes through this experience can feel alone and isolated, she said. She hopes The MENding Monologues, besides raising awareness, will help give victims the strength to talk to someone who can help them.
The evening will feature 15 monologues, 13 supplied by The MENding Monologues national organization and two written locally.
The monologues are “deeply powerful,” Gleason said. For example, in one, a man tells the audience about how an attack on his sister affected him and his family. In another, a man befriends a woman who was the victim of sexual abuse by the man’s college roommate.
“It’s a very volatile topic as you can imagine,” Gleason said.
At the same time, the monologues are interlaced with some humor, and Dujardin has said he wants productions to avoid being preachy and heavy handing.
Gleason said he has wanted to stage The MENding Monologues for several years and finally found the time for the theater to be involved. His reasons for doing the play are much the same as Wade’s.
“I’m hoping when people leave here they realize that something they felt was nowhere near their lives is near them, and it’s up to us as a community to eliminate violence against women.”
Performances of The MENding Monologues are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 8 and 9, at the KNOW Theatre, 74 Carroll St., Binghamton. Tickets are $20, with all proceeds going to the Crime Victims Assistance Center. For reservations call 607-724-4341.