Her eyes sparkle as she describes her newest vibrator. Her fingers twitch as she speaks of the possibilities that lie beyond her dreary, picturesque suburbia. Her heartbeat pulses with vulnerability and venerability, love and loss, laughter and light. She is not one woman but many—and these are the things she says.
Love Sonnets: Things Women Say, a collection of monologues written by playwright Charles Mee, explores the inner workings of 12 different women through a feminist lens. The staged reading was hosted by Mercutio Troupe in Tufte’s Huret and Spector Gallery last weekend.
Caitlin Bailey, a senior performing arts major, directed and designed the act.
“In the development stage, I grappled with the fact that Charles Mee is a male playwright,” Bailey said. “I was interested in exploring how women can reclaim our own stories, even if they are told by men.”
Bailey said the production investigated the way women with varying perspectives communicate with each other about love and emotions.
“I really resonate with hearing an array of thoughts and opinions,” Bailey said. “I was interested in creating something that was a reflection of multiple women.”
The actresses sat in a circle on the floor of the room, each rising when it was her time to perform. The intimate setting housed roughly 50 audience members, who sat in chairs surrounding the troupe. Bailey said the show was set in an art gallery to encourage audience members to view the piece the same way they would a painting—thoughtfully and analytically.
“I think it’s important for both men and women to see because of the concept that some things are intended for women and others for men,” Bailey said. “Sometimes, men shut down to things that aren’t on a neutral plane. I think it’s a nice way of looking at how women speak about ourselves, and the way we love both men and women.”
The ensemble presented poetry they wrote in response to the text. They also showcased their homemade feminist zines outside of the gallery.
Bailey said the cast members were invested in talking about the script in relation to their personal experiences. She said that one of the difficulties she ran into was the lack of diverse voices in the room.
“Racial diversity was a concern, as well as disability inclusivity, and even different gender identities outside of the male/female binary,” Bailey said. “We decided that that while this performance can’t necessarily address every question, it can focus on the specific experience of love. For that to work, you need to have many different people in the room who have loved in many different ways.”
Victoria Brancazio, a sophomore performing arts major in the show, said her monologue about a crumbling relationship came from a place of vulnerability.
“In theater, movies, and the media in general, women very rarely get the chance to talk about themselves unashamedly and openly,” Brancazio said. “This show lets women speak their truth.”
Freshman performing arts major Sonya Rio-Glick stage-managed the show. She said she was a voice in the conceptual process of the production.
“We figured out a way to tell each story in a way that was both respectful and powerful,” Rio-Glick said. “It was interesting to see the growth process in that we sat down and rearranged a piece and then got back on our feet and learned to speak it.”
Sabrina Ortiz, a freshman performing arts major, performed a monologue about the fleeting nature of an individual’s “one great love.” Ortiz said she enjoyed the process and the performance.
“From the beginning, Caitlin had us create a brave space, which we defined as a space where we could openly share our own stories,” Ortiz said. “During one rehearsal, we chose objects in our lives that we felt defined our femininity. I chose my red sunglasses that my grandma from Venezuela bought for me, because they have always defined my womanhood and my background.”
Rio-Glick said Love Sonnets: Things Women Say has a powerful message for all women.
“I think it’s important for women to see a piece like this to really get an idea of what a space of women sharing stories can look like,” Rio-Glick said. “So often, women are asked to be quiet about their experiences because they might not fit a pretty picture.”