Danner Martin (C’21) performs her monologue, “Oh You Like My Shirt? Thanks, I Got it Abroad.” Photo by Jasmine Huang (C’21).
By Mary Katherine Saye and Katherine LeClair
Content warning: “Sewanee Monologues” contains content that may be sensitive or triggering.
In late February, students gathered on the stage of Guerry Auditorium to perform the ninth annual “Sewanee Monologues,” a production organized by the Bairnwick Women’s Center (commonly known as the Wick). Dressed uniformly in black, the Wick cohort introduced the event, pointing out resources of peer support located in the lobby.
The annual program welcomes the stories of all with an abundance of support. On a campus that often silences personal, profound stories or completely disregards them, “Monologues” refreshingly offers an open dialogue. Not only does this performance provide a safe space for students to tell personal stories, but it allows the audience, mainly composed of the University’s student body, to empathize with the nature of the stories told.
While some monologues linger on light-hearted topics and tragically embarrassing situations— like Sydney Masterson’s (C’20) captivating whirlwind of a monologue “To Pee or Not to Pee”— many monologues explored the struggles of depression, eating disorders, and physical illness.
Opening the show with “The Year Tom Hanks Was My Valentine,” performer Lucy Wimmer (C’20) described how a vision of Tom Hanks, brought on by a 104.5 degree fever, helped her through a crucial battle with her chronic illness. At the beginning of her monologue, she stated, “I met Tom Hanks moments after holding tenderly in my weak fingertips the veil between this world and the next. Tears sizzled against my skin as I watched my mom fade into darkness.”
Wimmer continued, “I remember telling [my mother] that I didn’t want to live anymore, and then the frantic whispers assuring her that I still wanted to live, just not like this.” Wimmer’s monologue emphasized the seriousness of her situation all while integrating the enedaring comedy of her surreal and sickly visions, making it a perfectly tender opening for “Monologues.”
As the performances progressed, the audience laughed at Briana Wheeler’s (C’20) hilarious account of the failures of public school sexual education (titled, “While I’m Still a Clueless Virgin”). Others followed with testimonies of how they are “taking their bodies back” after instances of sexual assault.
Sydney Leibfritz (C’20), three-time monologue performer, spoke of the constraints of the mental healthcare resources on campus since she “heard too many stories of people not getting the care they need.” After first highlighting the importance of one-on-one therapy, she shared her own struggle with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).
Leibfritz stated that this year’s “Monologues” was her favorite because she knew most of the performers and has grown increasingly confident in sharing her struggle with mental health issues. Leibfritz added, “Even if people are ignored on a daily basis, they are welcome at Monologues.”
Nearly all of the monologues were performed by women, made up entirely of sophomores, juniors, and seniors. With that said, the Wick encourages all students to perform. For the last two years, every story that was submitted was presented on stage.
Truly, this event is not one Sewanee students should miss. Many will find that their stories are similar to the ones shared on stage, or better yet, completely different. Regardless, there is not a single story to be ignored—and that’s a big deal.