The following is a guest article submitted by Me Too Monologues – an annual performance by UNC students on identity. The author is Ruthie Allen, a student that works as a director on the monologues.
1. Can you give a brief overview of what the Me Too Monologues are?
Every year, students can write a monologue and submit them to us. The monologues can focus on an aspect of the student’s identity or an experience, it could be a commentary on our university or the world around us, etc. No limits! Essentially, students allow their lived experience of inequality/struggle/etc to inform their art and share their story. Once we receive these monologues, we select around 20 pieces, hold auditions, and bam we’ve got a show in the works!
2. Do you focus on a specific theme each year or is it pretty flexible in terms of submissions?
We’re flexible. People can write and share whatever they feel like needs to be shared.
3. What is the goal of Me Too Monologues?
To strengthen our community through vulnerable truth and narrative. Authors, actors, directors, producers, stage managers, audience members- we’re all a part of it and I think this project impacts people in different ways. But being a part of it in any capacity creates a unique sense of connection with our own student body and community that can’t come any other way. Coming and hearing these monologues is also just important for the soul.
4. What issue often gets brought up in the monologues the most, if there is one?
That’s hard to answer, because many of the pieces are intersect multiple issues. But in a broad sense, I would say mental health is key component for the majority of the monologues.
5. How does this relate to the current political climate we live in?
Art and politics are inherently linked. Art, public opinion, politics, and public policy have a complexly linked cyclical relationship. We’re currently in a political climate that is emotionally draining. There is language that actively discourages the voices and mere existence of so many. People of color, immigrants, trans people, gender nonbinary people, queer people of all kinds, those with mental illness, those that have experienced unwanted sexual encounters, the list goes on (and many people intersect multiple of these identities) are being targeted. I think that artists- GOOD artists- have a responsibility to respond to inequality and unfairness around them. That’s why Me Too needs to exist. We NEED this space for people to be authentically heard and understood- both for the people that wrote the pieces and for the people hearing them that connect with the stories and feelings expressed. While Me Too Monologues has no affiliation with Tarana Burke’s Me Too Movement, the general ideas are similar. In response to a lack of visibility, we want to share stories that will connect our community, which allows us, together, to actively name and address the inequality that takes up space in our community.
6. What is the impact of it being anonymous and performed by actors?
People that aren’t comfortable performing deserve to be heard too! So on a logistical level, Me Too is set up the way it is so that people that don’t necessarily want themselves in the spotlight to still be heard and still have a platform. I think that giving people the option to submit anonymously might make submitting such a vulnerable piece a bit less intimidating.
7. Do you think one day these topics can be discussed without any anonymity?
Absolutely! And they already are in many spaces. We allow anonymity because we live in a culture of shame, so we sometimes naturally feel shame or embarrassment about our own stories/identities. Or sometimes sharing can be truly dangerous. That’s why anonymity can make us feel safer or logistically make us safer when being vulnerable and leaning into discomfort, and it’s important to feel safe! But I certainly don’t think that means anonymity is a requirement for these types of conversations.
We at The Arc would like to extend our upmost gratitude to Me Too Monologues for submitting this article.