PlayBuildersʻ "#MeToo Survivors Circle," Powerful, Compelling, Timely
The diversity of those who performed opening night at the ARTS at Marks Garage, for #MeToo Survivors Circle was stunning. A young Filipina girl rolls on stage on some kind of kindergarten block to talk about the very first time, a young American Samoan woman commands the stage as she talks about JobCorp, a tall, slim blond woman stands like the Statue of Liberty with her fist in the air, a diminutive but combative black woman reveals why she wears a scowl on her face, and a tattooed woman talks to an empty chair in the middle of the stage. All have one thing in common. They are brave enough to share their stories of sexual assault and how they survived. Each story is unique. Each story draws you in. Each story is articulate and exceptionally well told.
One of the actresses, Maisa Thayer, a graduate student in the MFA program at Hawaii Pacific University, is credited with having started the #MeToo Monologues project that was presented last April at HPU and Kumu Kahua Theatre. She collected the stories via social media and email. During the panel discussion, she said that these monologues are “spiritual offerings” for the community and that is what it felt like. This is a continuation of Monologues with only 4 of the original stories remaining and the new stories deeply rooted to our local community.
Sensitively directed by Terri Madden, founder and Artistic Director of PlayBuilders of Hawaiʻi Theater Company, the monologues are presented in the round with only suggested set pieces. White drop cloths are placed over black stools with splattered colored paint, their meaning only explained at the end. Placing the audience in the round compels one look at the faces of fellow spectators as we listen to these very personal stories.
The play is divided into two parts with a short 10 minute intermission. Act 1 one is comprised of the monologues themselves and Act II is a conversation that takes place between audience members and actors, with a social worker presiding on most nights. At the panel discussion I attended, I heard audience members express their admiration for those brave enough to tell their own stories. The word “hero” was mentioned more than once.
The content is very mature, but even so, I highly recommend young men come to see what the fuss has been about in regards to #MeToo. It may help them to really think about how they view and treat women. #MeToo Survivors Circle has 3 more performances at the ARTS at Marks Garage. This weekend Friday and Saturday at 8 pm. Sunday at 2 pm. To purchase tickets, go to playbuilders.org.
Written by Paul Kuehn.