Breaking Ground Monologues Explore Diverse Voices on Gender, Race, Sexuality

Emma Dahl

This weekend, the student organization Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment (FACE) will be presenting the Breaking Ground Monologues. A sort of alteration of the annual Vagina Monologues which FACE has traditionally put on, these monologues are written by Whitman students and faculty.

Seniors Madelyn Peterson and Gabriella Friedman, the co-presidents of FACE, sat down to discuss their goals for the Breaking Ground Monologues.

Eve Ensler was the original author of the Vagina Monologues, which for the most part concerned sex, love, rape, menstruation, birth and other topics related to female genitalia. Whitman’s Breaking Ground Monologues are a bit different; they are all written by Whitman students, alumni and faculty and involve identities or personal experiences with sexuality, race and gender. Breaking Ground isn’t gender-exclusive, either; there are monologues written and performed by men.

Breaking Ground writers and performers gathered for a rehearsal on Monday night.  Photos by Marie von Hafften.
Breaking Ground writers and performers gathered for a rehearsal on Monday night. Photos by Marie von Hafften.

Friedman, while acknowledging that the Vagina Monologues was an “interesting project,” said that there was “not a lot of inclusion of different kinds of voices. [Breaking Ground] is a way to open up that sort of project so different kinds of people can speak.”

Senior Tom Glass, who wrote and is performing a piece entitled “Quietude,” praised the decision to move towards an all-encompassing collection of monologues.

“I suppose by definition gender, sexuality, and race are issues that affect every person, so I think it’s a very fine thing that the event is working to broaden the voices heard,” he said in an email.

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Last semester, FACE published a magazine called “Break Ground” that was an outlet for students to share their experiences with sexual assault on campus. The publication was created in response to The Pioneer‘s investigative report on sexual assault on campus, as a way to raise awareness of sexual assault on campus and how the school administration deals with it. In a way, the Breaking Ground Monologues are an extension of that original magazine but in a different medium.

“There’s a lot of power in testimony,” said Peterson.

Peterson explained that the wider discussion of gender, race and sexuality on campus is to create a greater awareness of diversity of experience to create a safe space for not only survivors of sexual assault to speak, but also a safe place for people to talk about gender and sexuality in a meaningful way.

Tickets are $5 and will be available in Reid from noon to 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 19 and Friday, Feb. 22. Tickets will also be available at the door. The monologues will take place in Kimball Auditorium on Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. The proceeds from the event will benefit local organizations such as the Walla Walla YWCA, the Step to Emerging Possibilities (STEP) women’s shelter and Walla Walla Planned Parenthood.