FACE hosts the 5th annual Breaking Ground Monologues

Afton Weaver, Staff Reporter

The fifth annual Breaking Ground Monologues, held in Kimball Theatre from March 3 through 5, grappled with a multitude of thought-provoking and emotional topics, leaving a powerful impression on all who attended.

The passionate performances helped audience members experience and relate to the powerful and sometimes unfamiliar stories of Whitman students with empathy. The event was hosted by the FACE (Feminists Advocating Change and Empowerment) club. Donations collected at the event went to support Walla Walla Triple Point, an organization which provides mentors and a safe space for queer youth.

To the co-presidents of FACE, Bryn Louise and Willa Johnson, the monologues serve to give a voice to those who don’t normally have one. While some were performed by the piece’s author, other monologues were presented by someone else. Regardless, they provided a window for the Whitman community to look into and remember that everyone has a story.

“People can choose to submit the work and have it be anonymous even if they feel like they can’t do it themselves, their words still get out there,” Louise said.

Sometimes, the monologues presented unfamiliar and uncomfortable topics. Breaking Ground brings them to the surface and encourages engagement.

“It’s important to have [these topics] be more a part of our everyday conversation,” Johnson said.

This event is unique in that it shares a surprising degree of depth; personal stories that were shared are conveyed differently than they would be in daily conversation or in the classroom.

“[The monologues] are crafted,” Louise said, “very specifically to the individual, whereas if you talked about it in a class you have the pressure to not make the class environment feel uncomfortable … Being able to tell their full story and present it allows [the individual] to be completely truthful to themselves. It’s very different to a classroom experience.”

Breaking Ground Monologues functions as a space where audience members can realize that they are not alone in wrestling with certain issues. Louise and Johnson hope that this event will validate the struggles of these individuals and allow them to seek help. To encourage this, they placed trigger warnings regarding distressing subjects in the program and made sure that counselors were readily available.

“The message is that your individual experiences are important and even if you feel like it’s just you floating around in the world having to deal with it, there are people that you can reach out to [in order to get] help,” Louise said.

Junior Teal Kurnie is the author of one of the monologues performed titled “Just a Scratch,” which delves into the topic of self-harm.

Kurnie decided to write a monologue after attending Breaking Ground Monologues two years ago. Deeply impacted by how empowering it was for these stories to be told to a larger audience, she began exploring the therapeutic effects of writing.

“I decided to write because it helps me organize my thoughts in a way that speaking or just talking to my friends or a counselor doesn’t,” Kurnie said.

In just a short time, Breaking Ground Monologues left a lasting impression. Kurnie described the personal impact the monologues left on her as well as others.

“I get to experience other people’s lives in a way,” Kurnie said. “There’s a chance I will never experience what they have gone through so it helps me gain a new perspective on the topic at hand.”

At some moments the audience was in laughter, while at others in complete silence or tears. Either way, Breaking Ground Monologues was a transformative experience for all those that participated and served as reminder that there is more to a person than meets the eye.