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The Scarlet & Black

Grinnell Monologues gets honest

Students practice their monologues in preparation for their performance. Photo by Shadman Asif
Students practice their monologues in preparation for their performance. Photo by Shadman Asif
Students practice their monologues in preparation for their performance. Photo by Shadman Asif

An overheard rehearsal for this week’s Grinnell Monologues performance would sound like screaming, yelling and talking in accents. It’s all in an effort to add a new level of theatricality and drama to the performances, during which students read monologues they have written about body image, gender and sexuality. The final performance will take place tonight at 7:30 p.m. in Loose Lounge and doors will open at 7:15 p.m.

While the Grinnell Monologues club has been meeting weekly all semester, preparations for the public readings started three weeks ago when event co-coordinators Chase Booth ’16 and Hannah Brown ’16 sent out an email offering students the chance to perform. The group then met to share a first draft, much like they tend to do at the beginning of weekly meetings.

“We stress in the [weekly writer’s meetings] that you should unload,” Booth said. “It’s a first draft so just get it out. It’s really cathartic for some people.”

As in past years, the writers peer edited the monologues, and Booth and Brown further reviewed the monologues over Thanksgiving break. Brown considers the process of attending weekly meetings, writing monologues and even sometimes performing them to be helpful for writers.

“My first monologue was really intense and it was about something I didn’t feel I had a right to say,” Brown said. “Grinnell Monologues gives people that chance to say something they normally wouldn’t say for fear of sounding whiny or saying something that’s not societally acceptable.”

Booth and Brown said they think audiences should expect to hear things they do not usually hear, including strangers’ hilarious stories and deep secrets.

“The whole point of Grinnell Monologues is to share something about yourself that’s typically a taboo topic or something you wouldn’t typically talk about in an everyday interaction with your peers, especially strangers,” Booth said.

When Booth and Brown assembled the monologues in order this semester, Booth noticed a surge in first-year participation in this year’s round of monologues. He credits the first-year presence to a number of prospective students visiting Grinnell last year and seeing a Grinnell Monologues performance.

But prospective students visiting next spring might not be able to witness Grinnell Monologues. While the club will still meet regularly with different co-coordinators, both Brown and Booth will be abroad and unable to set up the usual performances. Next school year, however, they plan to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the first Grinnell Monologues performance. After looking at old programs found in the archives, Booth is considering contacting old Grinnell Monologues performers and having them reread their monologues. But he said that the new perspectives brought by first-year students in this year’s performance can also offer insight into Grinnell’s culture.

“This will be for many of them the first performance they’ve seen, let alone been in, so that is something that’s new,” Booth said. “A lot of the topics are topics relevant to a first-year’s experience … in coming to Grinnell. A lot of them have something to do with coming into the hookup culture in Grinnell or experiencing and contrasting the culture here at Grinnell and their high schools and things of that nature … It’s a new look into Grinnell.”

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