Been There

"Me Too Monologues" seek to break down isolation.
April 1, 2012

Alone on a stage, senior Alison Kibbe has just finished speaking about feeling alienated for Christian beliefs, while at the same time feeling judged by other Christians. Naomi Riemer ’13, who has been listening intently, speaks up.

“By the end of your monologue, you need people to realize that you’re not criticizing Christianity, but you’re criticizing the people who use Christianity to be selfrighteous,” she suggests.

A few days later, Kibbe performed the monologue, along with another written by an anonymous Duke student, for the fourth annual Me Too Monologues, a collection of narratives written and performed by Duke students. Conceived as a way for students to bond through common experience, the monologues typically explore struggles with identity. “This is one of those pieces we read, and we were like, this is what Me Too is about,” says Riemer, the show’s assistant director, of Kibbe’s monologue.

The brainchild of Priyanka Chaurasia ’10, then-president of Duke’s Center for Race Relations, the monologues originally focused on racial identity. The show has since expanded, both in number of performers and in the range of topics they discuss. At this past February’s show, fifteen students delivered nineteen monologues on topics dealing with gender, nationality, sexuality, and religion.

“We hear about all of these issues of racism, sexism, but we forget that people are living these lives,” says Afftene Taylor ’12, the show’s director. “The mission of Me Too is to give a platform for different people to express themselves.”

As an audience member in its first year, Taylor fell in love with the concept. “It was raw, real, uncut, and comfortable— but uncomfortable,” she recalls. She delivered a monologue the following year.

“A lot of these monologues are about having a secret and then choosing truth and freedom over lies and bondage,” says Taylor. “It’s gratifying to hear other people express those thoughts and think, ‘Oh, me too.’ ”