As Wheaton works towards building a stronger community, it is crucial to give people the opportunity to tell their stories, and most importantly, to listen.
Stripped, a production of Wheaton monologues centered on sex and sexuality, began a much-needed conversation about these issues on our campus. In fact, director Lana Rosen ’13 began the show by expressing her hope that in exposing these issues, they could be worked out.
A spirit of inclusivity was evident throughout the show, with the performers remaining onstage through all of the monologues, creating a strong feeling of unity. One of the most powerful aspects of the show was the interesting ways in which the monologues intersected. Many performances touched on similar issues and provided diverse perspectives.
For example, several monologues looked at homosexuality in students’ personal lives, our campus and the world. Sam Hammond ’15 shared a time in which a boy he had a crush on made a homophobic comment, and he felt powerless to stop him. An interesting juxtaposition was Ryan Clinesmith’s ’15, piece addressing homophobia and his fear of the homosexual implications of enjoying jazz music, which was performed by Cliften Bonner-Desravines ’13. Jonathan Korns ’15 vocalized a mother’s journey to accepting her gay son, while Julia Hamilton ’15 called for greater acceptance on the Wheaton campus.
Other monologues addressed attitudes towards sex on campus. Cody Steensma ‘13 and Jared Cohen ’13 discussed the emptiness that accompanies hook-up culture, while Lucy Cayard’s ’13 performance attacked stigmas surrounding virginity. Milana Meytes ’13, Tyrek Greene ’13, Nataja Flood ’16 and Joy-Marie Fernandes ‘14 shared works about personal experiences with relationships.
Within the production there was a strong call for change. One stand-out was Patricia Vazquez’s performance of Judith Gil’s piece that suggested the word “pussy” should be an acronym for “please use some sense, yo.” Hannah Lennon ’16 and Lara Geis ’13 performed monologues about the marginalization people face after undergoing traumatic experiences such as sexual assault and abortion, respectively. Lana Rosen’s monologue, performed by Paris Dowd ’16, explored her attitude around her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis and the ways in which this impacted her own attitude about her body. Professor Denise Wilhelm’s piece captured her own experiences with domestic violence and advocated for respect and remembrance for those lost to, or still enduring, abusive relationships.
Stripped was a transformational production. It was clear that the events that inspired the monologues changed the lives of those who performed and wrote them. Hopefully the campus will choose to follow suit and begin discussions about these issues.