Do you have a story? Me too.
Me Too Monologues is an annual show about identity entirely written, performed, and produced by members of the Duke community. Students, alumni, and faculty anonymously submit stories about their life experiences, and peers perform the monologues in a theatrical production.
Because of their anonymous nature, the show’s monologues are able to touch on intimate, personal experiences and explore narratives that would otherwise be silenced on campus. They can explore any facet of identity. In past years’ performances, for instance, monologues included a tie-clad student speaking about gender expression as a black female, a junior revealing his bipolar disorder, and a second-generation Asian American coming to terms with his complex relationship with his parents. The performance also employs call-and-response. As they witness each monologue, audience members are encouraged to snap, stomp, and hum to support the performer and the writer’s story.
Combining aesthetic excellence with community storytelling, Me Too reaches audiences viscerally and raises consciousness about the structural and personal challenges facing individuals often marginalized in elite higher education.
To assert that, whatever challenges we face on campus, we are not alone
To amplify voices often at the margins of campus conversations, and be a resource for under-resourced groups
To foster a more supportive, honest, and empathetic campus culture
- To provide a forum for institutional critique and for conversation about structural oppressions
A Brief History
Priyanka Chaurasia started Me Too Monologues in 2009 after attending Common Ground, a Duke diversity immersion retreat that provides open spaces for students to share their own stories and thoughts on how identity markers have affected their time at Duke. Moved by what her peers had to say, Priyanka decided to use testimonial theatre to create a platform for these stories to be heard on campus and to start conversations about identity at Duke.
Hosted by the Center for Race Relations, the first MTM show was held on Martin Luther King Day with help from the MLK committee and the Kenan Institute for Ethics. The production featured 17 anonymously submitted monologues about race, ethnicity, and culture and was originally meant to be staged in the 80-seat Brodie Theater on East campus. When the Facebook event reached over 400 RSVPs, Priyanka scrambled for a bigger venue and managed to snag White Lecture Hall, which seats 250. Every row was full and people still continued to sit on the floor, aisles, and stairs!
Since then, the production’s audience has grown every year. By 2012, the show was a weekend-long event, with three fully packed shows in the 500-seat Nelson Music Room. By 2014, the show expanded to two weekends with five packed shows in total, with programming for “Me Too Week” in the four days in between the weekends. With the added two shows, the production had over 2,200 viewers--almost a third of the undergraduate population! In 2015, with Priyanka’s help, the production team launched an effort to expand the production beyond Duke’s campus, with new productions began at UNC, Columbia, Marist College, University of Alabama, Princeton, and Bluffton University. 2016 will see Me Too grow internationally with the addition of Trinity College Dublin, among other colleges and universities.
Me Too’s growth has also seen changes in the production’s structure. In 2011, the production team decided to accept monologues about race, gender, and sexuality, and, in 2012, about identity markers more broadly. In 2014, Me Too became an independent student organization from the Center for Race Relations. During this time, the production emphasized outreach to predominantly white, Greek organizations as part of broadening its audience base beyond the usual social justice crowd; unfortunately, this distanced the show from its original intentions and sidelined the stories of more marginalized voices.
Moving into the 2015-16 production, Me Too at Duke is recalibrating its mission. Reaffirming its history and ties with the Center for Race Relations, Me Too will work with the CRR to improve the monologue selection and audition process. We will continue to feature monologues about a variety of identities but will heighten our focus on amplifying voices rarely heard onstage and on tying our work to campus activism. Me Too hopes to honor its mission of using theatre to raise consciousness around structural oppressions on college campuses.