During my first semester at Goshen, when I was an eager frosh ready to take in any and all new experiences, I kept hearing about this magical thing called “Goshen Monologues.” The sophomores, who were my RAs and MLs, couldn’t stop raving about this unexpected spiritual experience they’d had the spring before while I was still living out my last days of high school.
So, being that eager frosh and wanting to please my RA, who insisted we all give it a shot, I went to the first meeting in hopes of participating in the second-ever Goshen Monologues. After that meeting, I was so excited to join this clearly important project, but I still didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. As rehearsals began, I slowly started to understand what Monologues was all about. Goshen Monologues is a project that tells the stories of nonbinary and female people at GC. The stories are anonymously collected in the fall, and then assigned to the nonbinary and female people who choose to be a part of the cast. They are then spoken out loud (and that is the crucial, incredible detail: these stories that have been silenced are spoken out loud), at an event in the spring. You might think of Goshen Monologues just as the event at which the stories are shared- but so much more work goes into it. Brave people write and submit stories, the GM Committee edits the stories and creates a script, and even more nonbinary and female people choose to rehearse, memorize, and speak the stories.
One of the amazing things about Goshen Monologues is ~that moment~ when something in a story connects so intensely with your specific life experience that it’s almost unbelievable. Maybe it’s an actual experience you had, or maybe it’s a sentiment that touches your core. I remember the moment I first felt this particular phenomenon. In the second or third rehearsal of my first year, I heard this line in a monologue:
“Love woman! Love yourself wildly. The way you’ve always wanted to be loved.”
I’ve never forgotten the way that one line implored me to make loving myself a priority. In talking to other cast and audience members, I know that I am not alone in this feeling. By interacting with the stories in some way (editing them, speaking them, hearing them), you will have at least one moment that takes your breath away because of its relevance to your life. This is one reason I encourage people to be in the cast and to attend the event.
As a cast member, I have also had the experience of speaking someone else’s words. The goal is not to make them your own words, but to find passion and meaning in them and communicate them for the person who wrote the story.
You may connect more with some stories than others, but each has sacred value and deserves its place in our collective minds and ears. It is so valuable to take on a story that you wouldn’t have chosen and make yourself see and share a different perspective from your own.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I decided that I wanted to submit a story to Goshen Monologues – I wanted to be involved in the project and share my perspectives and opinions on a few things. I didn’t expect the thrill that came with hearing my words spoken in front of hundreds of people, words I might not say if they were attached to my name. There is power in having a voice and being vulnerable without having to face unfair consequences. In my junior year, I was ready to share more than an opinion; I shared a story that was not easy to write or submit. It was difficult to hear it spoken in the first rehearsal, and it didn’t get any easier, but hearing it was a form of catharsis I needed.
This is what matters more than anything else- more than the connection an audience member has with the stories, more than the “performance” of the cast members, and more than the value of inhabiting someone else’s story and perspective: the fact that voices that have been silenced are given a space to speak.
Above anything else, this is the purpose of Goshen Monologues. We are making peace through the sacred sharing of stories and the universal truths that they represent. Goshen Monologues is for all the stories that have been shared and all those that haven’t, the ones that make everyone laugh and those that make you cry, the stories that express anger and fear, that celebrate what it means to be nonbinary and female, that comfort and that protest injustice. It is for the stories.
Casting call for Goshen Monologues 2018 is Sunday, February 11, from 2-5 PM.