“Monologue Madness” Fosters Supportive Competitiveness and Provides a Safe Space For Performers

Emiliano Caceres Manzano ’22 and McKenzie Williams ’24 were announced winners of the Chosen Monologue category and Assigned Monologue category respectively.

As performers and audience members logged onto the “Monologue Madness” Zoom meeting, upbeat background music welcomed them to an evening unlike any previous Drama Lab. After a night of spirited student recitations, winners were crowned, and a relaxed afterparty brought a familiar supportiveness and energy resembling past in-person Drama Labs on campus, according to audience member Emma Cheung ’23.

“I really enjoyed watching Drama Labs when we’re on campus. I was in a few Drama Labs and [“Monologue Madness”] brought a sense of normality back to it. Even though we’re all around the world, it’s nice that we could have something similar to [Drama Labs] on campus,” said Cheung.

This past Friday, the Theatre and Dance Department launched “Monologue Madness” as a new series of Drama Labs consisting of three different categories: Chosen, Assigned, and Written Monologues. The group of producers—Niara Urquhart ’21, Anna Liu ’21, Carly Pearlson ’21, Ioanna Ninos ’21, and Denise Taveras ’21—had been brainstorming ideas for incorporating monologues into virtual Drama Labs for the past few months. According to Taveras, the tournament-like setup of “Monologue Madness” melded several of these ideas together.

“I feel like ‘Monologue Madness’ was kind of a mashup of a bunch of different ideas we had for the year… We realized that it’s best that it’s best to put all of these ideas into one thing, and then just make it a big event to celebrate the performers on campus who want to share,” said Taveras.

Friday’s event featured the chosen and assigned monologues, and whereas the chosen monologues were shown to performers a few days before the performance, the assigned monologues were intentionally given only three hours beforehand. The short time constraint initially intimidated assigned monologue performer Jack Swales ’24, but his nerves soon went away after talking with the performers before the event.
Swales said, “I was like, ‘Oh goodness, what am I gonna do here?’ It was kind of stressful, but then I was like okay, these people are talented, but they are also super chill, so even if I mess up, it won’t be the biggest deal.”

Swales continued, “We were there for like 45 minutes before the event actually happened, just talking about what was gonna happen during the event… it was just fun listening to the Seniors and it made me feel more comfortable.”

Despite the fact that the event was held as a competition, students found comfort through the support and encouragement from their peers during and after the event. Taveras emphasized that online Drama Labs need to repossess the sense of community previously felt during in-person Drama Labs.

“I feel like drama labs on campus are very much a community thing, where after there’s a performance, everyone just stays and mingles and talks to the performers or people who they haven’t talked to before… We try to provide that safe space in our drama labs now, by keeping the Zoom rooms open, and being like ‘Hey, you can talk to us,’” said Taveras.

The finale of the “Monologue Madness” series will take place on Friday, February 19, featuring the third category, written monologues, where performers will recite their own composed pieces. Inspired by the performers and welcoming atmosphere during the first “Monologue Madness,” Cheung is hoping to perform her own written monologue next Friday.

“I was thinking about doing the other monologue section, ‘Writing Your Own Monologue.’ I was more on the fence about doing it, but then I watched this ‘Monologue Madness’ with the two other categories, and it seems like a lot of fun and it was really nice to watch everyone, so I’m thinking about doing the other monologue category now,” said Cheung.