Last year, I left the performance of “A Memory, a Monologue, a Rant, and a Prayer” (MMRP) at the College of William and Mary both absolutely awestruck and devastated — in a good way. MMRP is a provocative series of monologues that highlights violence against women in all forms and raises money for Avalon, a local domestic violence shelter. MMRP’s monologues discuss domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking and even violence associated with geo-political conflict.
The monologues are reflective of, and are written by, women of all backgrounds, races and socio-economic statuses. The monologues that are ultimately performed are chosen by the directors with a theme in mind, making them all the more powerful.
As a viewer, this program can be triggering. There is no way around that; the content is difficult. The language is real — sometimes too real — and vibrant. Many of us, women and men, have survived or are currently living through these scenarios. We live through unwanted sexual contact in bars and dorm rooms. We live through relationships that hollow us out and make us feel alone. In many ways, the show can be therapeutic, as it reminds us as survivors that we are not alone.
As a fellow survivor, the performance last year offered me solace and solidarity. It allowed me a moment of comfort and validation for my feelings and insecurities. That is why it was so important for me to get involved with it this year. If this year’s production can have that effect on at least one other survivor, I believe the show will be a huge success.
This year, I have been fortunate enough to get involved with the production and direction. This has given me the opportunity to explore the monologues more intimately and to closely shape the campus-wide discussion around gender-based violence. In light of the #MeToo movement and the events that have occurred since last year’s performance, this year’s production strives to reflect the ground-breaking awakening that we are all experiencing in today’s popular culture.
The show features six monologues that will carry the audience through the insecure moment of realization that something seems wrong, to the moment of awakening and trusting yourself, and finally ending with an empowered call for revolution. This story arc may be familiar to other survivors — this is the arc of how I came to be an activist for survivors of violence.
The women in this year’s production explore the nuances of these monologues and bring these words to life. Each actress brings her own interpretation to the monologue, just as each survivor brings her own experience and culture to understanding the violence she has experienced.
No two survivors will have the same story of overcoming violence, just as no two actresses will portray the response to violence in the same way. Through this show, we hope that everyone in our audience walks away feeling empowered to take a stand against violence in their own subset of the Tribe, and that everyone will be part of a tide for change.