Last year while Lauren Treiber, a senior, was in Cambodia for a Study-Service Term, she became very, very irate.
Her anger began, said Treiber, when she and other female friends in her group began to experience forms of sexual harassment while in the country.
“It was really hard to deal with,” she said. “I slowly started to realize that I cannot be angry about this happening in Cambodia because it happens at home and I’ve never ever said anything. It never crossed my mind for some reason that the same structures are here.”
When she returned to Goshen in May 2013, she began to channel her anger into passion to see women’s stories heard.
Starting with a brief meeting in the living room with a few friends, Treiber began the project that is now called, “Goshen Monologues.”
The idea is to gather women’s stories from around the Goshen College campus and community and to then tell them through a stage adaptation.
Similar to Michiana Monologues, which was modeled after Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, “Goshen Monologues” is an expression of the various and unique stories of women.
Treiber and other women on campus collected close to 50 stories from within the GC community.
“They’re all different,” said Treiber. “Some are very long and would take you 15 minutes to say out loud and some are on three-by-five note cards. They are confessionals, declarations, poems. They are very intimate and some are very funny. On the whole, they are all very honest.”
“The subject matter is so diverse and it is not weighted towards one experience of womanhood or another.”
On Saturday February 15, Treiber held open auditions on campus and invited all women, students or faculty, to participate.
Every woman who showed up for the auditions left knowing that they would be performing the story of a fellow student on April 8.
“I love listening to stories,” said Avery Martin, a sophomore. “I knew that there were going to be a lot of people working together on this project and that we would be talking about things that women go through.”
One student, who will remain anonymous, showed up at the auditions knowing that she would be hearing a story she herself submitted.
“It didn’t feel real until I saw these girls come together,” she said. “People care about these stories enough to tell them and I know people will hear my story and that, probably, people will relate to it. It’s totally overwhelming.”
“But I think I’m more excited to tell someone else’s story. I hope that when I get up there, people are excited to hear it and that people care that I want to tell it.”
Many of the students and professors who auditioned are not actors. Some had never been on the stage – or even in Umble Center at all. Everyone, however, was accepted into the project.
Throughout the next few months, Treiber will direct the performance and will meet with the performers to talk about how the stories will be best adapted onstage.
“My hope is that the performance, which is an evening of telling stories that are all true and very unadulterated, is that that experience becomes a movement,” said Treiber.
After the performance, the audience will be given a chance to react. During the weekend after the Tuesday performance, Treiber plans to host a dinner and dialogue for GC community members to gather for food and conversation about the performance.
“There’s a lot of celebration, of identity, of being very grounded in who one is, and loving that and celebrating that by living into it,” said Treiber. “For example, some are about relationships, whether the relationship is romantic or maternal or spiritual.”
“Some people wrote letters to their bodies and to their younger bodies, which is beautiful. And there’s heavy stuff because there are women who have endured horrible things, but the courage that they tell this is incredible.”