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Against Violence

Megan PierceHow do you stop violence against women and girls? First, you get people talking.

Two Ohio Northern honors program students, Megan Pierce, a senior communication arts major from Grove City, Ohio, and Anna McLaughlin, a senior youth ministry major from Oregon, Ohio, are doing just that by producing “The Vagina Monologues” as their senior capstone project and as part of the global V-Day movement.

The controversial monologues will take to the main stage of the Freed Center for the Performing Arts on March 13 and 14 with a cast of more than 40 students, faculty, staff and community members reading the episodic monologues written by Eve Ensler and first performed as a one-woman show in 1996.

As part of the V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls, proceeds from the performances and other activities will benefit Lima’s Samarian House, a women’s shelter.

Pierce explains that she first encountered the powerful message of the play in her freshman year and felt a need to be part of the movement to end violence. She and McLaughlin proposed staging the production to fulfill their capstone requirement first to the Communication and Theatre Arts Department. From there, approval for the project, which includes workshops and an auction, went to Dr. Kendall L. Baker, Ohio Northern University president, and First Lady Toby Baker, BFA ’06. In fact, Toby Baker will be part of the production, reading the final monologue.

Anna McLaughlinRequired for graduating seniors, capstone projects often involve team projects that allow the students to put into practice the knowledge and skills they have developed in their studies. For Pierce and McLaughlin, that includes communication, organizational and administrative skills.

Collaboration is also a big part of the production. They are working with four other technical directors: Kara Dombrowski, a senior communication arts major from Brecksville, Ohio; Micah Hein, a junior language arts education major from Wilmington, Ohio; Bryan Homyak, a senior nursing major from Fairview Park, Ohio; and Catriona Macphie Hynds, managing director and development officer of the Freed Center.

The cast includes students representing majors from across campus, faculty, staff and community members. Some have experience as performers, while others don’t. With such a large cast, rehearsals have been done in segments, some in practice space, others in coffee shops or homes. Rehearsal is more than “running lines,” Pierce says. Because of the content, she has found it useful to discuss the topic, allowing the participants to reflect on the topics raised.

Some of the monologues are funny. Others are painful. Some of the language includes vulgarity, Pierce says, but the work is a celebration of women that makes participants and audience alike think about the devastating effects of sexual violence.

In addition to the post-performance discussion on March 13, the project includes four workshops on women’s issues: the image of women in advertising, violence in hip hop music videos, violence affecting women in areas of conflict, and being female on campus.

It’s all about getting people talking, and then taking action.