Dozens gathered Sunday in the East Campus Coffeehouse for the Me Too Monologues Mini Show, where four students performed monologues submitted anonymously by fellow Duke students.
The monologues—some funny, some sad and some a mix of the two—addressed subjects including race, gender and sexual orientation. The Mini Show, a new form of production put on for the first time last year, represents Me Too Monologues' intention to appeal to freshmen before the larger, more widely publicized winter production.
“We think it’s so important to have that freshman perspective in the show, so we want to make sure they know about it and have their voices heard,” said senior Cortnay Cymrot, the show’s producer.
Me Too Monologues—part of the Duke University Center for Race Relations' Me Too Campaign—is a student-written and student-produced annual show that debuted in 2009. Performers present monologues submitted anonymously by other students, often discussing issues of race, gender or identity. The show is also in collaboration with Me Too Blog, and both are dedicated to providing a safe space for Duke students to share their fears, secrets and experiences.
Director Kari Barclay, a junior, said they generally chose monologues that addressed important issues with a light, humorous tone.
The first monologue, performed by Cymrot, described the awkwardness of being a member of Duke’s “biggest, most secret club”—the society of virgins. Subsequent performances tackled a variety of issues, ranging from an athlete’s struggle of coming out to her team to a Chinese student’s discomfort with the Duke community’s love of bodily contact.
“Why? Why do I have to represent the minority?” asked senior Imani Ifedi in the monologue she performed, in which a black girl is frustrated with being judged according to "white standards." "I'm over it."
Barclay said they will choose 16 to 18 monologues from approximately 70 submissions for this year’s winter show. He noted that although Me Too originally focused on race when it started seven years ago, the show now addresses a range of issues.
“We’ve had really diverse ones,” Barclay said. “People talk about socioeconomic status, their parents and their health. We want to hear everyone’s story.”
The production has grown steadily more popular over the past several years, growing from one weekend of shows to two for its February 2014 run. There have additionally been conversations about expanding the show to other schools.