“Sewanee Monologues” fosters community and growth through vulnerability

Vanessa Moss (C’20) performs her monologue, “F**k it, I’m Walking My Dog.”  Photo courtesy of Luke Williamson (C’21).

By Lucy Rudman
Junior Editor

At the eighth annual Sewanee Monologues, an event created and hosted by the residents of the Bairnwick Women’s Center (the Wick), students got on the stage at Guerry Auditorium and shared their stories. The performance, during which students spoke on topics ranging from hazing to self worth to Taco Bell, is based on The Vagina Monologues, a play by Eve Ensler.

Participants have multiple options for having their voices heard. Their monologues can be submitted, attributed, and performed by the writer, or participants can chose to remain anonymous, and have a friend or representative perform it for them.

“Reading at ‘Sewanee Monologues’ was a formative experience for me,” said Abbie Warr (C’19), who performed a monologue attributed to an anonymous writer in the program. “I felt a deeper sense of connection with the student body through listening to and putting a voice to stories that possess the power to initiate change in our community.”

This feeling of unity, spawned from mutual and confidential vulnerability was reflected in statements from other performers as well, and lined up a common theme articulated in the Wick  Residents’ introduction to the show.

“The sense of community is always stronger in the weeks following Monologues,” said Vanessa Moss (C’20), who performed a monologue titled, “F**k it, I’m Walking My Dog.” “You walk away knowing a little slice of campus better.”

As a recurring event, “Sewanee Monologues” is known and anticipated among the community. Students are encouraged to submit monologues as they please. This year, to promote inclusivity and safe sharing, the Wick emphasized in their introduction to the audience that “every monologue submitted” was performed. Sydney Leifbritz (C’20), who has performed a monologue for two years in a row, especially recognizes the value of such an outlet.

“Having this space, where we can speak freely and honestly about issues within our campus community is honestly so important, because we steer away from topics that seem uncomfortable a lot of the time,” Leifbritz said. “Monologues encourages that discomfort as a source of growth.”

This year, the Wick is taking things one step further, with plans to publish the monologues into an anthology. Leifbritz has hopes that “more people will access these important stories, even though they maybe couldn’t make it to the event.”

Ultimately it was an event of growth, as best put by Moss, “We’re all grieving for some reason or another and we aren’t gentle enough to ourselves… audience members and performers alike can find mutual support in each other. You walk away knowing you’re not alone.”