FACE Prepares for Breaking Ground Monologues

Sam Grainger-Shuba

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Illustration by MaryAnne Bowen.

March 7 and 8 mark the second year of an annual Whitman event: the Breaking Ground Monologues. Student, staff, faculty and alumni will contribute to the event put on by  Feminists Advocating for Change and Empowerment (FACE).

Inspired by the Vagina Monologues, the Breaking Ground Monologues showcase a series of monologues about issues of race, gender and sexuality created by Whitman students, staff, faculty and alumni. However, unlike the Vagina Monologues, Whitman’s version includes topics other than those relating solely to females.

“We want to break out of the essentializing nature of Vagina Monologues as ‘experiences of womanhood’ and represent real experiences of people within the Whitman community,”  said sophomore and FACE co-president Katie Steen in an email.

FACE used to put on the Vagina Monologues but switched to Breaking Ground last year. In response to a tumblr “zine,” an online magazine on a blog site, started by Amherst, FACE released their own zine in spring 2012. The zine is filled with stories, poems, rants and art created by members of the Whitman community.

“The publication was incredibly powerful and was positively received by the Whitman community,” said senior and FACE co-president Molly Dubrovsky in an email. “This showed FACE that there was a willingness and need for Whitman community members to have a space to write about their own experiences and for others to listen. So, shifting from the Vagina Monologues to Breaking Ground seemed like a great way to continue the “Break Ground” powerful tradition of creating space for traditionally marginalized experiences to be heard and bring a more diverse discussion of gender and sexuality to campus.”

According to Dubrovsky, all writers, directors and actors are new this year. FACE will also be hosting a reception after the show for actors, writers, directors and audience members to decompress and discuss.

First-year Cleo Young is directing one monologue and acting in another. She was emotionally touched by the pieces in the show when asked to direct a monologue and is excited to participate.

“I think Breaking Ground provides Whitman with an outlet for voices that usually don’t get to speak very loudly,” Young said in an email. “It’s an important venue not just for the actors but for all the audience members who will see something of themselves in the stories; even the most intense of the monologues can be cathartic, affirming and healing. Another thing is that Whitman is known to have a very laid back, unpretentious atmosphere, which can occasionally mean that issues with a lot of charge don’t get talked about. It’s important to bring up taboo subjects every so often and give them the space they deserve.”

The show will take place in Kimball Auditorium. Tickets are $5 with all proceeds going to the Walla Walla STEP Women’s Shelter.

“I think this event largely means to me what it would mean to someone of any age, but I guess it is particularly inspiring for me as a first-year to get to work with the wide variety of people that the monologues attract,” said Young. “As I’m settling into being a student at this school, it’s good to know that there’s a community that shares my interests and priorities.”

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