Me Too Monologues Celebrates 10 Years of Storytelling at Duke

Me Too Monologues celebrated ten years of giving voice to the Duke community in 2019. Started by then-student Priyanka Chaurasia in 2009, the show launched as a forum to present untold stories about race on campus thanks to a collaboration with the Duke Center for Race Relations.

In the last ten years, Me Too Monologues has become its own independent student organization, using testimonial theatre to share the perspectives and life experiences surrounding all aspects and intersections of identity at Duke: race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic background and more.

Chaurasia never realized that the show would grow to its present-day scale. For its first year, she initially booked a 50-seat theater and casually created a Facebook event. 500 RSVPs later, the audience filled one of Duke’s largest lecture halls and cemented its relevance on campus for years to come.

“In 2009, I honestly thought it was going to be 45 people in a dark room who left thinking, ‘that was lame.’ This has definitely surpassed every one of my wildest dreams and expectations.” – Priyanka Chaurasia

“When I first started Me Too, the thing that I noticed is if you talk about identity in a really academic way, people kind of shut off… Especially if it felt like you were lecturing them, or telling them that they were wrong or racist or something, they really shut down the conversation. But when you say: ‘This is what my life has been like. This is what my identity is and means to me.’ That’s something undeniable.” – Priyanka Chaurasia

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Every fall, students, faculty, and staff anonymously submit monologues to the Me Too production team. In the following spring semester, 18 to 20 of the monologues are performed by members of Me Too over 6 performances, giving the university the opportunity to learn from, empathize with, and start conversations about the stories submitted by brave fellow community members.

For the 10th anniversary on February 8, Me Too Monologues invited Chaurasia back to campus to see opening night and discuss how the show has evolved over the last decade with the Me Too Monologues’ podcast team.

“I’m just so amazed at the creativity and the passion and the way that they’ve broadened the conversation to incorporate not just race, but other identity markers that really make someone who they are. I love the idea of making it feel like a community and a conversation, where you can make eye contact with the person performing. It becomes a real story and conversation between the performer and the audience.”—Priyanka Chaurasia

Emphasizing the sense of truth and togetherness over performance has become a big part of how Me Too Monologues operates. In recent years, the show was presented in Nelson Music Room instead of in a lecture hall or traditional theater space, something that Annie Delmedico, this year’s producer, finds to be one of its greatest assets.

“It’s a very powerful community experience,” says Delmedico. “That’s one of my favorite things about having it in the Nelson Music Room. We’re able to keep the house lights on so people do not feel that they are just a faceless person in the audience. It is actual people in your community sitting with you and having this experience. You can feel the air in Nelson breathing in and out itself.”

“It’s easy to feel alone in your struggles at Duke and in life. But not only are you not alone in your struggles, you are here in a community of people and that means something. A community of people that will show up and try for at least two hours to come together and listen. That’s really powerful to me.”—Annie Delmedico

Ten years after that first night, Me Too Monologues is still focused on encouraging empathy and honesty. “It is a communal experience and I think that’s the core of what it means,” says Delmedico. “No matter what challenges you’re facing—whether you relate to the challenges on the stage or not—you are not alone.”

Rebekah Wellons is a senior from southwestern Virginia with a passion for theater and music. Her Duke experience has been defined by incredible professors, late-night Perkins sessions, hiking adventures, and impactful rehearsals with Hoof ‘n’ Horn and Rhythm & Blue. Once she graduates, Wellons hopes to find work in a creative field—whether performing, working in arts administration, or seeking opportunities in governmental arts advocacy.