This blog post was co-authored by Ellie Maag and Patricia Chen.
Every year, Princeton students perform in two monologue performances. One is "Me Too Monologues," and the other is "The Vagina Monologues." Here are our impressions of what it was like to perform in these shows.
"Me Too Monologues" started in 2009 by students at Duke University. The project acted as a peer outlet for insights on race and identity. Since Princeton adopted it in 2015, "Me Too Monologues" has transformed into a mental health initiative. Scripts are submitted anonymously by students and performed by peers.
As an actress in "Me Too Monologues," the process of developing the performance was just short of being an emotional roller coaster. It’s hard to swallow the fact that the stories are written by current Princeton students and that for every performance, there is a possibility that they could be in the audience. The script you pick is a seed that you cherish and water. It becomes your responsibility to internalize the message and magnify the voice. Sometimes, it can be difficult to detach yourself from the writer’s struggles.
"Me Too Monologues" has been the most impactful theater performance I have ever been a part of. Along with the other eight performers, we covered the topics of anxiety, depression, rape, self-harm, sexual assault and more. It’s a continuous uphill climb to destigmatize perceptions of mental health problems and bring awareness to how close to home it actually is.
When I came to Princeton, I was placed in a living arrangement with three other women who became some of my closest friends.
First-year winter. One of them signed up to perform in the show “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler. They were assigned to perform the last piece, called “My Revolution Begins in the Body.” We would meet in the bathroom to brush our teeth before bed, and she would recite it to me, conjuring up beautiful imagery before my eyes.
Two years pass. Each of them were stuffed with treasured conversations and conferences that helped me come into my own as a feminist.
Sophomore year. We bought “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur. Our copy was passed from room to room, getting dog eared marks, gentle highlights and furrowed pencil marks.
This year. I performed in "The Vagina Monologues." By now, I realize the show is not as perfect or revolutionary as I thought it was. But, I find the same thoughtfulness in performing. And the audience is shocked through many parts of the show.
My partner and I spent months pouring over 557 words. We explored each tint and hue of every word, letting them drip thoughtfully from our lips.
I realized that this is the whole purpose of "The Vagina Monologues." It's to help you find a community, delve deeply and take a moment to reflect on issues that you'd like to further explore.