Dim lighting cast over the room as several performers began talking to their loved ones on simulated phone calls. As the supporting actors slowly left, the drone of voices faded out. A single spotlight swept across the room to the one performer left onstage, starting a series of individual, introspective monologues.
The title of the event, “Truth Be Told” was the culmination of the Identity Show course, a class that allowed students to reflect on a range of topics surrounding their personal identities. Behind the scenes, students wrote original monologues and crafted acts that bared typically hidden aspects of their identity. Performer Mayumi Kawano ’25 described the main purpose of the show, emphasizing its important message centered around authenticity.
“The title of the show is ‘Truth Be Told’ and it’s basically to show that everyone…wears a certain mask, but no one fully portrays themselves as they truly are. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just what people do to protect themselves. This show was meant to take down those walls and allow the audience to see sides of students that they’ve never seen before,” said Kawano.
One of the unique aspects of the Identity Show is that it is almost entirely student-led. While many other theater performances come with pre-written scripts and characters, “Truth Be Told” allowed students to write and share their own stories. Georgianna Harpole ’25, an audience member and previous Identity Show performer, shared her thoughts on this year’s show.
“I thought [it] was wonderful because the Identity Show is directed by students, performed by students, written by students; it’s very student-focused, so the outcome of the show and what happens during the show are largely dependent on the cast and the wonderful director… When I performed it, a large part of it was allowing people to tell the quiet, darker, or the very happy peaceful moments of their lives that people may not be aware of. It was about learning to open up to people,” said Harpole.
Students in the Identity Show perform for the student body multiple times a year, each time exploring an important aspect of their identity. With difficult and heavy subjects as common themes, one of the challenges for performers was gauging what level of vulnerability they were comfortable with.
“I think honestly the biggest challenge I thought there was going to be was being comfortable reading out my pieces and getting that deep to people I didn’t really know, but it was honestly really organic and easy to overcome that because you become very close to the people you’re in Identity with very quickly. We all understood that we all had different comfort levels and everything we shared was just as valid as what anyone else shared,” said performer Lillianna Villanueva ’25.
In addition to focusing on how they could best and most genuinely deliver their acts, performers also valued the audience’s reactions to their pieces. Villanueva described her appreciation for the emotional responses audience members had.
“At the moment when I was saying my pieces, I could really see the emotion in people’s eyes, so that [was] something I’m really happy about. Before the show, I told everyone that my goal was to make everyone in the audience cry. It was really great seeing that people actually cared and people were actually interested,” said Villanueva.
For many, “Truth Be Told” created a valuable platform and environment for students to share vulnerable yet important stories, connecting with those who might or might not have had similar experiences. While attendance to the Identity Show for Juniors is mandatory, Harpole hopes that many other students will choose to voluntarily watch as well.
“The show encapsulated for me the sense of understanding that everybody on this campus has some amazing story to tell. I would encourage other community members to go and see the show because I think it’s an important reminder that everyone deserves to be listened to, and everybody is interesting in their own way. The show is really heartwarming in [this] way: you can see someone you may not know or don’t speak to at all, and come to understand them on a deeper personal level,” said Harpole.