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ACTIVISTS PLAN SERIES OF EVENTS TO RAISE AWARENESS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ISSUES
In their attempt to make a real difference in the lives of area women who suffer from domestic violence, two social activists are inviting women of all ages from Osoyoos to audition and participate in a local version of a play that has gained attention and praise around the world.
Paula Rodriguez de la Vega and Tiffany Beckedorf have formed a small group of local volunteers to join forces with V-Day – a global movement to stop violence against women and girls. They have formed a local chapter called V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos.
Beckedorf, who has lived in Oliver since 1998, said the group’s main fundraiser will be a local production of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues.
“Through this play … countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives,” said Beckedorf, who will be directing the play, along with Oliver Elementary School teacher Marji Basso. “For more than 12 years, this play has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public.”
Auditions for the play take place January 7 and will continue for two to three months with the final production set to take the stage in the Osoyoos Secondary School Theatre on Saturday, April 6 at 7 p.m.
‘We are inviting women from Osoyoos from ages 16 to 101 to audition for this production,” she said. “All of the women and girls who will be on stage for our production will be from this region. It is a totally local production.
“With humour and grace, this piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. It is both powerful to witness and be part of creating.”
V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos will be holding auditions for the play on Monday, Jan. 7 from 4 – 8 p.m. at the Dance Studio, located at 6327 Main Street in Oliver, underneath the Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre office.
V-Day, which was developed by Ensler following the immense popularity of her book and play, takes place around the world on Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14, said de la Vega.
While production of the play will be the focal point of the local organizing committee, numerous other fundraising activities are planned in the days before the event, said de la Vega.
While domestic violence remains a “hidden secret” by abusers and victims, the reality is it is a serious problem here in the South Okanagan as well as other parts of this province, across Canada and around the world, said de la Vega.
“According to worldwide statistics, one in three women will be victims of violence in their lifetime,” said de la Vega. “That’s not acceptable and we want to change it.
“The reality is there is a lot of domestic violence taking place in our communities in the South Okanagan, it does take place, victims suffer often in silence and it takes place more often than people might think. We’re trying to do our best to raise awareness and funds so we can support organizations that provide assistance and counselling to victims of domestic violence.”
“We hope to raise about $3,500 with 90 per cent of the profits going to the local Desert Sun Counselling and Resource Centre, which has programs to help women and girls.”
De la Vega said she took part in a previous V-Day organization while living in Kimberley about a decade ago and had a wonderful time and is very much looking forward to having the same kind of reaction from local women and girls.
“It was a wonderful way to bring the community together to speak out against a serious subject like domestic abuse,” she said. “It was an amazing thing to be a part of and I wanted to give that same opportunity to local women and girls.
“I’ve lived in Oliver for about six years now and I checked around to see if anything like this had been done around here before and it hadn’t, so I thought the timing was perfect. Just by word-of-mouth and talking about our project, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and I expect a lot of interest and support.”
Domestic violence isn’t always physical as victims often suffer from verbal, sexual and psychological abuse as well, said Beckedorf.
“The bottom line is violence of any kind negatively affects those who are abused, which is mainly women and children,” she said.
Ensler’s play has raised tens of millions of dollars for groups and organizations which assist victims of domestic violence and their children and the local production is sure to garner plenty of support from those auditioning to those who will purchase tickets for the play, she said.
Women and girls from throughout the South Okanagan, including Rock Creek, Keremeos, Cawston, Okanagan Falls, Oliver and Osoyoos, are invited to audition for the play.
De la Vega and Beckedorf will also be looking for sponsors to help stage the production and support other V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos fundraising efforts over the next three months.
If interested in more information about upcoming auditions or to talk about V-Day Oliver-Osoyoos, you can contact Beckadorf at 250-408-9061 or email de la Vega at firstname.lastname@example.org.