Arts

“Out of the Bottom Drawer”: Theatre-910 Identity Cast Collectively Examines Personal Vulnerabilities With Gender and Sexuality Themes

COURTESY OF LINDA CARTER GRIFFITH

Illuminated by the bright spotlight, performers took center stage to deliver a series of personal monologues spanning a variety of complex emotions. Through using purposeful inflection and movement, cast members of the Theatre-910 production take on their experiences involving specific facets of their identity.

Stemming from a project that started more than six years ago, the Identity Show “Out of the Bottom Drawer” tasked students to write and perform monologues revolving around serious and important personal stories that they wished to share. Though their monologues were mostly individually performed, Allen Grimm, the chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, commented that this year’s team saw a strong team dynamic that assisted the production process.  

“I really like this ensemble. They’re really galvanized and in tune with each other. It’s really nice to see how much they get along and support each other. There’s not one of them that hasn’t done something really impactful this term,” said Grimm.

Having worked on numerous rehearsals, meetings, and writing sessions since last term, the cast and crew developed a strong sense of solidarity that deepened their understanding of their collaborative production. Emelia Yang ’24 commented that the friendship the performers share and the support they feel from the audience all go into making the performance more meaningful to audience members through establishing a sense of solidarity.

“We all share a common sense of vulnerability that we need to express individually. I think that it takes courage to share these stories that we may think we’re alone in. But there’s actually a lot of people that can relate to the same things. Hearing that there are other people who can empathize with you is incredibly impactful,” said Yang.

A key goal of the annual production is to share personal stories that will impact and resonate with the audience; this year, the students’ monologs mainly centered around themes such as gender and sexuality. Hanbie Park ’23, an audience member, conveyed the performances were a space to connect, and re-evaluate on certain aspects of her identity, whether it be on the common issues or aspects of privileges that she was made aware of with the production. 

“As a woman myself, listening to [one of performers’] struggles with body image was something that related to me and a lot of women in the room. After that, I heard a lot of people crying. That moment, where you could hear everyone sort of bonding over that moment as a shared experience we’ve all had, was really impactful,” said Park. 

In addition to connecting with audiences, the production aims to inspire lowerclassmen to participate in this show in the future. As a co-director, Mary Muromcew ’22 hopes that their project, with upperclassmen imparting their experiences and struggles with identity, will educate and compel lowerclassmen to explore similar themes at length either personally or through taking on the Theatre-910 elective class in the years ahead. 

“I think [the show] is such a unique chance for freshmen who are 14 to 15 years olds to see the experiences of students who are older than them. Their peers have gone through more in-depth EBI classes and English courses, and are able to talk about their identity in more complex ways. So it’s a way for freshmen to see identity not just as a lesson to talk about in EBI, but something to connect and relate to,” said Muromcew.