Two Planks fundraiser supports women’s organizations

Monroe’s Two Planks Theater Company just completed its season-opening production of August: Osage County, but the company is already continuing its social outreach with a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues, Nov. 10 and 11.

The presentations will feature actresses from past Two Planks shows all coming forward to support The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury, Bridgeport’s Center for Family Justice and the national organization Protect our Defenders.

According to Two Planks Executive Director Brooke Burling, the company works hard to use its theatrical roots as a platform to in turn help support other socially minded organizations.

“We are incredibly privileged to be able to present live theater here in Monroe,” said Burling. “But as much as it is important for us to provide enjoyable entertainment to our community, we also want to use theater and the arts to address socially relevant topics and support other groups working for the common good.”

The idea for Two Planks presenting The Vagina Monologues actually originated back stage during the company’s production of La Cage aux Folles in the days and weeks following the Women’s March on Washington.

Two Planks board member and La Cage cast member Jennifer Sokira was approached by fellow cast mate Amanda Friedman, who had helped produce and performed in the Monologues in college.

“The Vagina Monologues (is a great way) to raise awareness of issues that affect women, especially at this time when women are bravely making their voices heard,” said Sokira. “There is such a richness and variety to the monologues, all of which are drawn from thousands of interviews that playwright Even Ensler conducted with women from around the world.

“Even in rehearsals I have found myself crying and laughing, sometimes (both) within a matter of minutes.”

The play addresses a variety of women’s issues in its monologues and has been called “probably the most important piece of political theater in the last decade” by the New York Times. It has been staged around the world and has been used to raise more than $100

million for groups working to end violence against women and girls.

For its show, Two Planks selected both local and national charities to support. The Women’s Center of Greater Danbury and Bridgeport’s Center for Family Justice both serve as primary outlets for women in need, in addition to their other responsibilities.

Because the show was going to be performed over Veterans Day, the company also chose to support Protect our Defenders, a national organization supporting and advocating for military survivors of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Performers delivering the monologues for Two Planks show will include Judy Abbatiello, Amina Ali, Jean Budney, Antonietta Dellacarpini, Sheila Duckworth, Phyllis Fabolinsky, Janice Gabriel,

Catherine Gomez, Shannon Grummet, Susan Kulp, Jacqueline Maclean, Melinda Primorac, Carolyn Savoia, and Jennifer Sokira. The show is directed by Susan Halliwell.

“In this climate with people trying to divide us by highlighting our difference, this production is so important,” said Dellacarpini, who last appeared with Two Planks in their production of The Foreigner. “The Vagina Monologues highlight our shared humanity and honor our differences and diversity as human beings. The show provides a window into the most intimate parts of humanity across cultures and gives voice to the voiceless.”

General admission tickets for the show are available on the company’s website, www.twoplankstheater.org, for $20 or at the door for $25.

The event will be held both Friday and Saturday evenings with the performance starting at 8:00. Patrons are welcome to gather early for pre-show appetizers compliments of Monroe Deli and a cash bar provided by Carl Anthony’s.

Both nights will take place in Clocktower Square, 477 Main St. Space for the performances was donated by Tartaglia Commercial Properties so that all proceeds raised could go to Two Planks and the organizations it is supporting.

“We are so appreciative that Lorraine Tartaglia was willing help us raise awareness of issues facing women in today’s society by supporting this production,” said Burling. “We couldn’t have staged this benefit performance without her, and we are incredibly thankful for her help.”

Additional information on the show can be found by contacting Two Planks at [email protected] Further details on the groups the company is supporting can be found at www.wcogd.org, www.centerforfamilyjustice.org, and www.protectourdefenders.com, respectively.

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