Guerry Auditorium has about 800 seats and the seats were full with spectators standing at the back of the auditorium. If anyone wanted to immerse themselves into the life of a college student, this was the venue and event.
One parent in the audience said, "it was very sexual." Indeed, it was and indeed, that is the underside of the college experience. The part of college that no one feels quite comfortable talking about. Consequently, Sewanee Monologues offers the opportunity for students to write their own stories and submit them anonymously. Then for the one-night-only, forty students sit on stage and take turns performing a carefully selected (and sometimes edited) series of student monologues. Interspersed between the students' contributions are offerings of advice on relationships, care, and health from faculty and staff.
The 2013 Monologues offered stories of celibacy, assault, bipolar disorder, race, abuse, testicular cancer, alcohol abuse, disordered eating, sex (of many varieties), homophobia, a poem with a bongo beat, and a dance narrative. We learn from hearing other's stories. It helps us understand the emotional turbulence of college, the grappling with developing identity, and the exploration of aspects of life not covered in K-12 or college curriculums.
The performance is edgy, because college life is edgy. Edges represent unsupervised risk and as college student are arriving on campus from strict scheduled lives, this is often their first real opportunity to take risks. So, they do and so the monologues allow us a window into their experiences. Guess what, it's edgy, scary, funny, painful, meaningful. So is life after college and this events help them express themselves and find their way. It also helps the University better understand where our students are intellectually, spiritually, sexually, and emotionally. It helps us understand the heart of a college student. In my experience great teaching and great experiences are always about accessing and teaching the heart.
Thank you to Devin Loftus, Hanna Miller, Mallory Silver, Joanna Parkman, Katie Lafferrande, the 40 student performers, Dr. Mary Beth Williams (their advisor) and Will Watson for making it possible.