V-Day Denver combats violence against women with benefit production of A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer

Tonight and tomorrow at the Mercury Cafe, V-Day Denver will stage readings from A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer, an anthology about violence against women co-edited by Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues. This is only one of the events organized by V-Day Denver, this city's arm of an international organization founded by Ensler in 1998 to illuminate truths about violence against women.

A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer is a series of "monologues about people's experiences with sexism, violence against women, and just the culture that contributes to sexual assault being as prevalent as it is," says Shelley Schreiner, who put the event together with fellow V-Day member Jaime Marston. The text includes writings by the likes of Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Howard Zinn, as well as Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, now in the spotlight for her work on the Oscar-winning documentary Saving Face.

Schreiner and Marston have both been V-Day participants for years, but this year, Schreiner says, "We just kind of wanted to branch out -- just do something a little different. It's also interesting because it features male voices as well as female. We have some really amazing guys in our cast."

Opportunities to examine male roles in violence against women are often missed, she notes: "People want to just talk about the victim instead of really confronting men's roles and how we are all complicit."

Schreiner hopes the play will be as personal an experience for audiences as it has been for the cast. (She's bringing Kleenex.) "We tried to really be supportive in people confronting things about themselves, as well as rehearsing," she says.

But the evening won't be all misery. Amidst these stories of personal tragedy, there are also elements of humor. "It could easily be all tears and sadness. The thing that surprised me the most was how funny the show is," Schreiner says. "There was a lot to laugh about as well."

The evening has a dual purpose. It will raise funds to support local organizations that deal directly with the problem of violence against women, Project Safeguard and the Rape Assistance and Awareness Program. But Schreiner also wants audiences to "walk away from the show wanting to do more," she says. "I hope they feel compelled to make a contribution, or write to their congresspeople -- anything they can do to take the next step."

A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer will start at 7 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. tomorrow at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California Street. Tickets are $15, and proceeds will go directly to RAAP and Project Safeguard. For more information, go here.

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Shaughnessy Speirs

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