Utah Women Make Their Voices Heard in Monologues From A Movement
Interviews & Features
On the night of November 9, 2016, many people were trying to process the news that Donald Trump would be our next President and what it would mean. For Amanda Caraway, it meant that there was a new urgency in amplifying the voices of women. Monologues From A Movement, an original stage play written by Caraway and directed by Cami Rozanas, will premiere at the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival, and it’s all about giving many Utah women a chance to be heard.
“We saw the writing on the wall,” Caraway says. “I started working with some other women in the theatre who had #MeToo stories … So many of us broke our silence and started talking about things for the very first time that we had repressed and not talked about forever.” Monologues From A Movement first started taking shape in 2018, as Wasatch Theatre Company was staging a production of What We’re Up Against by Theresa Rebeck. The play takes place in corporate America, exploring the politics of the workplace, the glass ceiling, and the toxic culture that pits women against each other.
“That show is a period piece,” Rozanas says. “It takes place in the ’80s, and the thing that shocked me when I saw it is how much of it hasn’t been fixed.” Caramaway put out a call for Utah women who had #MeToo stories that they were willing to share and turned the stories into monologues that were performed each night before the show.
“All women will have a #MeToo story. At least one, and when you talk to them, usually, they’ll use some black humor in telling their experience—because if you can’t laugh about it, you’re going to cry.”
“It was so well received that we thought, ‘Okay, we have something here,’” Caraway says. “This could be a play.” The original plan was to perform the fully staged production of Monologues From A Movement timed to the 2020 Presidential Election, but fate and COVID-19 had other plans. After a successful staged reading in June, Caraway and Rozanas decided to premiere a streamlined version of the 90-minute play at this year’s Fringe Festival.
A stellar cast of local actresses was assembled, made up of Mandi Titcomb, Sydney Lorraine Vance, Lisa Nicole Thurman, Carly Welch, Elizabeth Hanley, Jenn Niedfeldt, Meighan Page Smith and Valerie Ahanonu-Plautz. These actresses perform monologues based on stories submitted by women of all ages from a variety of backgrounds on topics ranging from date rape to workplace harassment. Monologues From A Movement offers stories that are shocking, heartbreaking and even some that will make you laugh. The choice to include comedic monologues wasn’t a difficult one for Caraway and Rozanas, who feel that the darkest moments require giving the audience some much-needed levity as well. Perhaps more importantly, Monologues From A Movement uses humor as part of the artists’ commitment to authenticity. “All women will have a #MeToo story. At least one,” Rozanas says. “And when you talk to them, usually, they’ll use some black humor in telling their experience—because if you can’t laugh about it, you’re going to cry.”
“I started working with some other women in the theatre who had #MeToo stories … So many of us broke our silence and started talking about things for the very first time that we had repressed and not talked about forever.”
It’s important to Caraway and Rozanas to be clear that Monologues From A Movement isn’t misandrist and can be enjoyed by people of all genders with a variety of life experiences. “We held a private, staged reading in early June, and there were as many men as women in the audience,” said Caraway. “I was surprised by how the stories were embraced by all genders. Both audience and cast members were laughing, crying, and raging together. Change is possible if we stand together and demand it.”
Monologues From A Movement, produced by Wasatch Theatre Company, premiers Friday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. at The Box at The Gateway (130 South 400 W.), with the closing performance on Sunday, August 7. Showtimes and tickets are available at greatsaltlakefringe.org. In addition to this shorter version, a full scale production of the play will be performed in March of 2023, with tickets going on sale next spring at wasatchtheatre.org.
Read reviews of local theatre productions:
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Mestiza, or Mixed: A Utah-based Story of Mixed Identity and the Artist’s Pursuit