A few years after “The Vagina Monologues” were barred from campus, a community written, directed and organized version, “The Michiana Monologues,” is coming to the Goshen College campus.
The Indiana University-South Bend (IUSB) club, Voices Against Violence, has organized the event the three years it has been performed, collecting monologues from the community as early as a year before the performance, leading workshops for area women to write their stories and coordinating the performances on IUSB’s campus, along with the advertising and fund-raising off campus.
This year’s performance, “The Michiana Monologues: Love, Joy and Pain,” contains 28 Michiana women’s stories, read in a readers’ theater format. Those 28 are included with more monologues in a book-version. The group received nearly 70 monologues they had to narrow down for the performance. Profits from the show and book go to area organizations that help women and children.
Jeanne Liechty, professor of social work, saw “The Michiana Monologues” two years ago, and said she “found it funny, empowering and moving.” Because Goshen College decided to no longer allow performances of The Vagina Monologues on campus, Liechty thought “The Michiana Monologues” would be a “viable option.”
Liechty and Carol Jarvis, professor of social work, talked with other Goshen faculty and presented a proposal to President Brenneman that was accepted last fall.
Megan Bonham, Career Services administrative assistant, is another Goshen College faculty member involved in the show. She reads the monologue “Barefoot Lady Godiva.”
“It’s a story of a teenage girl who goes to her first dance and ends up getting raped by her date,” Bonham said. In the monologue, she then goes onto to describe the variety of emotions she experiences that night.
“She started off the evening feeling beautiful,” Bonham said, “and ends feeling ugly.”
This year’s first performances were held during the Feb. 19 weekend in South Bend. The night before one of those shows, someone let Bonham know that the writer of her monologue would be in the audience. After the show, a friend of the writer told Bonham that the writer was pleased with her reading.
“I find it a privilege to tell her story,” Bonham said.
“The whole show has been very empowering for me and I hope [the writer of my monologue] finds it empowering to know her story is being told.”
Knowing that the stories read on stage are true experiences from women in the area community adds a different effect than from seeing Eve Ensler’s show.
“To sit and listen to these stories from women 60 miles, 100 miles from myself…” Liechty said, “I have to engage them more personally, which I think makes them more powerful.”
Zorina Jerome, this year’s director of the Michiana Monologues, said that “it makes it more real.”
The audience “can’t say ‘oh, those things just happen there’.”
Jerome also said she is very thankful for the invitation to perform the show at Goshen. Liechty is likewise thankful for the response.
“I’m really pleased with the support and enthusiasm on campus,” she said. She added, though, that she regrets that the monologues has to conflict with the opening night of the mainstage performance, Tartuffe.
While the show focuses on women’s stories, men are invited as well.
“Listening to Michiana Monologues’ stories may not necessarily give them a better relationship or marriage,” Jerome said, “but it will definitely offer them insight to understanding the plight of women—consequently broadening their own perspective of women in their community and even their family.”
Each show location, Goshen, Elkhart and South Bend, are organizing their own places to send profits. Beneficiaries from the Elkhart and South Bend performances include SOS of the Family Justice Center, St. Margaret’s House, YWCA of St. Joseph County, Elkhart County Women’s Shelter, Elkhart Women’s Shelter and Women’s Transitional Care Center: Emerge Ministries.
Michiana Monologues: Love, Joy and Pain will be presented March 19 at 7 p.m. in Sauder Hall. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in advance through the Goshen College Welcome Center at 574-535-7566 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.