CONTACT Rape Crisis Center and the Marshall University Women’s Studies Program are presenting a performance piece titled “Valentines to my Hometown” compiled of works by men and women of Marshall University and the local community.

The monologues deal with issues of gender, sexuality, relationships and identity. They focus on these issues specifically in West Virginia, Laura Diener, director of Women’s Studies, said.

This year, the program’s directors have steered away from an event that focuses only on women.

“Last year we did a similar production that we called ‘The Vagappalachialogues,’ but this year we wanted to create a piece that looked at gender from a broader perspective,” said Liz Deal, victim advocate for CONTACT. “We are happy that men wrote four of the twenty pieces and two of our nine performers are men.”

Performance pieces are works written or performed by men and women on Marshall’s campus and in the local community.

“One of the wonderful things about this production is the diversity of contributors,” Diener said. “The writers range from professional artists with their own books, to Marshall students working on pieces begun in classes, to first-time writers who are just beginning to explore their voices.”

The program’s directors wanted to empower victims and survivors in the community to tell their own stories as writers or performers.

Deal said the pieces range from, serious to funny and take on sexual identity and relationships.

Due to the winter storm, there hasn’t been much time for performers to rehearse and the directors are still hoping for a good turn out.

“We have had a limited rehearsal time and the weather hasn’t been very helpful,” Deal said. “But there is a kind of natural spontaneity with this kind of production that gives it energy.”

Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at the B’Nai Sholom Congregation in Huntington. There will be a $5 donation to support CONTACT Rape Crisis Center.

Hannah Harman can be contacted at [email protected]