V-Day is a global movement started by the writer Eve Ensler which aims to eradicate violence against women and girls. the newspaper got to speak with the director/producer of MMRP, Kelly Robertson-Reinhart. This 4th year political science and english student describes V-Day as using "creative endeavours to raise awareness to stop violence against women," with MMRP being one of these several Ensler-organized endeavours.
The unique element that made this particular production of MMRP so interesting is that the small group of students who auditioned and engineered the production were determined to present the monologues in a much more dramatic fashion, and not just as a simple reading. Robertson-Reinhart says of the choice: "We wanted performances, we wanted stories to be told with heart, and we wanted people to really connect with the stories."
And connect with the stories we did. Ranging from the story of an unwanted first kiss, to a day in the life of a working woman, to the story of a Rwandan genocide survivor, each story was incredibly laden with emotion, beauty and more often than not, pain. Robertson-Reinhart and her team were very careful to render the performances as real as possible, creating backstories about their characters so that, apart from the critical topic at hand, the humanity of the characters would shine through. Robertson-Reinhart says, "We're seeing these people in the worst moments of their lives, and we're being introduced to them. I wanted to re-introduce the characters in a different moment of their life."
One memorable monologue performed at MMRP was "In Memory of Imette," written by Periel Aschenbrand and performed by the unforgettable Angela Sun, a 3rd year political science and English student at U of T. In a monologue retelling the horrible rape and murder of college student Imette St. Guillem intermingled with the author's fear of rape as a possibility for every woman, Sun was able to get some real laughs out of the audience in her authentic and memorable performance, despite the weighty subject matter.
Another touching performance came from U of T student Jillian Linton. In her piece, "Dear Ama," written by Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Linton channeled the sweet sadness of her young Muslim character about to be married off to a much older groom. The piece was so heart-breaking because it impossible not to relate to the character.
In this way, the mission of V-Day at U of T was achieved, as each of the monologues’ messages attached themselves to the audience in a way I never anticipated. In this vein, MMRP did something ingenious yet really quite simple to bring even more awareness and to inspire more dialogue on this important issue. Out of the eleven monologues performed on Friday, three were performed by men. All were sad, touching, and very memorable. Although these re-tellings of experiences of abuse witness, rape and degradation were told by men who did not actually physically experience the abuse themselves, they were still profoundly affecting.
In one particularly moving piece entitled "Rescue," written by Mark Matousek, the character (played masterfully by Richard O. Kirwin) realizes that he does not just live in a household of women, he lives in a household of raped women, each one having been deeply affected by this horrible crime.
MMRP's director knew from the beginning that the dialogue surrounding this event, and in fact the issue as a whole, could not be restricted to women. "It was fundamental. We were not moving forward unless we had men involved.You can't stop violence against women by only focusing on women. Violence, and miscommunication and oppression all happen in relation to one another."
If a small production consisting of a dozen or so dedicated people can do this much to bring awareness to such a critical issue, it will be amazing to see what V-Day U of T will accomplish as it continues to grow as a group and a movement. Robertson-Reinhart sums up: "We're all in this together and if we all want to have a different picture of the world, we have to create that together."
To find out how you can join V-Day U of T, visit their Facebook page.