Editor’s Note: Monologues is an annual performance by Goshen College faculty, staff, and student women and non-binary people who perform the anonymously-submitted stories of other community members. This year’s performance on Sunday, March 8th, included stories about identity, gender, sexual assault, mental health, relationships, and more.
One afternoon during my first year of college, I was sitting in Java working on homework when I noticed a Monologues call-out poster. I was intrigued. I’m not sure it was anything more than blatant curiosity that led me to attend the call out, but I am thankful that I chose to. Attending that call out opened a door to one of my favorite parts of being a Goshen student.
As I first began to learn my monologue with the women and nonbinary people around me, I felt the sense of togetherness and community that I had been longing for. I was in the presence of other incredible women and nonbinary people, and we were taking these sacred and vulnerable stories and giving them a voice. Each of the practices that brought us closer and closer to the show felt more and more intimate. Finally, the night of the show arrived. I remember my heart pounding backstage before I went on. I performed my monologues, and I was immediately captivated. The release of the story, of the words that I had been holding for months and waiting to share, of the words that someone had been waiting for themselves and others to hear, left me speechless. I immediately wanted to do it again, to be part of it again.
The next year, I not only performed in Monologues, but I wrote a piece as well. Hearing my own words validated and spoken on stage gave them a power that they would not have had otherwise. I felt the purpose of Monologues to a larger degree: the release of the hurt, sadness, and frustration, but also the gratitude and joy that run through the lives of women and nonbinary people in our community.
By writing and hearing my story performed, I was eventually able to let it go. In that way, Monologues served as a form of closure. Having my story shared lifted a weight off of my shoulders. At the same time that my story was being shared, I was sharing someone else’s story, and hopefully giving them a piece of that same closure.
This year, I served on the Monologues committee as well as performing and writing a piece. I was able to see how much work it takes to pull the performance together. The process involves countless emails, hours of editing, and lots of meetings.
This spring, Monologues had begun to lose some of its excitement and draw in my mind, because its power was bogged down with hours of planning and work. However, the night of the performance I remembered why I am a part of Monologues. Backstage there was an energy of excitement, nervousness, and reverence for what we were about to do. There was the community that I found both freshman and sophomore year. All of the work felt worth it. There was no one else I wanted to share the gift of performing the monologues with than those who were backstage. I felt the love, patience, time, courage, and hard work that was poured into the creation of each story by its writers, by the committee in the creation of the show, and by the performers in their mastery and commitment to represent the pieces.
There is a magic in Monologues. It represents an opportunity for vulnerability in a safe space, and for collaboration with others in the pursuit of the ever-important goal of a safer and more welcoming campus. The performance offers a chance to share deeply in the experiences of people in this community. This year I not only felt that magic; I was able to help create some of it.
As a cast and committee member, I sometimes forget how challenging it is to hear the monologues for the first time. I want to thank everyone who came to the performance for making the choice to hear the stories despite that difficulty. Monologues does not have the same power if there is no one to hear the stories and share the effort of holding them.
The Monologues Project is about collaboration, community, understanding, purpose, strength, and resilience, and I am incredibly lucky to be a part of it.