Forty-two women and non-binary Goshen College students are gearing up for the fourth annual presentation of Goshen Monologues on this coming Saturday, April 7.
The Goshen Monologues present the stories of women and non-binary members of the GC campus. They are comedic, intense, joyful and tragic snapshots of what it is like to live life in their shoes. Earlier this year, 46 anonymous submissions were made to the Monologues committee consisting of six GC students.
After the stories were collected, the committee watched 42 auditions during a casting call which was open to all female and non-binary members of the GC community. Every person who auditioned was assigned either an individual monologue or a role in a group piece.
Senior music education major Katie Shank, a member of the Monologues committee, explained the process of casting.
Shank said: “We have everyone read a short monologue to determine what kinds of emotions might best suit their voice, and assign pieces based on our observations…as well as some questions they answer about what sort of subject matter they might be comfortable with.”
The cast of Monologues has been rehearsing weekly as a large group, with smaller groups meeting for additional practice.
According to Shank, Goshen Monologues was started in 2013 by a GC student named Lauren Treiber. The project was inspired by Eve Ensler’s “The Vagina Monologues,” an episodic play that sheds light on women’s experiences with sexual assault, body image, female genital mutilation, sex work, and many other topics relating to identity and sexuality. Treiber wanted to bring this idea into the context of GC by gathering the stories of the faculty, staff, and student women.
In the years since its debut, Monologues has been opened up to include stories from non-binary members of the Goshen community.
“Undoubtedly, the most important thing about monologues is the stories,” Shank said. “Through us, voices that have been silenced or afraid are given a space to speak. We are here to tell the stories and the universal truths they represent.”
This sentiment was echoed by first-year Madeline Smith Kauffman, who stressed the importance of Monologues for its provision of a place where “every story is voiced, shared, and validated.”
Despite the value and importance of Goshen Monologues, it is not an event for everyone. Audience members should be prepared to hear powerful stories, but also be aware that many of them contain what Shank calls “triggering content.” These are real-life stories, and they include themes of sexual assault, abuse, sexism, racism, depression and anxiety.
“But also prepare to hear uplifting stories of gender identity, coming out, personal growth, and independence,” Shank said. “The anonymous writers are vulnerably sharing their stories, and the cast will be occupying them on stage, so your job as an audience member is to really listen. Come ready to hear them, without defensiveness and without prejudice.”
Goshen Monologues will be presented on April 7 at 7 p.m. at College Mennonite Church.