This weekend, 10 Penn students took the stage in ARCH Auditorium to perform original monologues as part of Penn Monologues’ eighth annual production.
Titled “The Space Between,” the performance included student written monologues on a variety of topics including mental illness, sexual assault and the impact of Trump’s presidency on students’ lives.
During the event, laughter rang throughout the audience as students shared memories of music festivals and little league. The laughs died down during more serious pieces, which touched on issues such as anorexia and Penn’s history with suicide — 12 students have died by suicide since February 2013.
While most of the monologues were read by their original authors, some writers chose to remain anonymous and had their works performed by another student.
One anonymous piece, read by College junior and 34th Street Magazine staffer Claire Schmidt, described a Penn student’s experience of being raped by her high school boyfriend. The writer talked about her trauma, and later, her disappointment with the way voters in the United States had chosen a president who had bragged about assaulting women.
College junior Dalton Noakes, producer of Penn Monologues, has been involved with the production since his freshman year. He stressed the importance of addressing “Penn Face” — the tendency for students at Penn to act self-assured despite internal struggles.
“I know our show isn’t going to end ‘Penn Face’ by itself, but I think it’s an important step in the right direction,” Noakes said. He added that he believes the show “possesses the ability to help people feel less out of place and alone.”
Penn Monologues has increased its following since its inception eight years ago. Students in the audience, including College senior Hannah Fagin, have attended multiple shows from the group.
“I remember hearing older people talking about their Penn experience and I just kept coming back,” Fagin said. She first watched the show as a freshman.
This year, Penn Monologues added a philanthropic element to their show by donating proceeds from the show to Galaei, a “queer Latin@ social justice organization” in Philadelphia.
“If you look at the constitution of Penn Monologues, it says that we believe in disclosure as a means of connection, the equality of all individuals and the end to violence,” Noakes said. He added that he believes the show’s philanthropic component better allows the organization to pursue its goals.
Schmidt said that the event was also rewarding for participants. She said that prior to the show, she and other performers found it difficult to find an outlet for expressing themselves.
“I felt like there was something I wanted to share, but that there wasn’t a venue for it,” she explained. “But then I found it.”
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