The Coming Out Monologues YYC, formerly known as the University of Calgary’s Coming Out Monologues, has moved locations and shifted focus. Inspired by the Vagina Monologues, the event showcases people sharing their experiences with coming out as different gender identities and sexual orientations.
This year’s performances will take place from March 19–21 at the John Dutton theatre downtown, abandoning the much smaller Boris Roubakine Recital Hall at the U of C.
“We’re not going to be performing on campus this year, since we have outgrown the theatre,” says Madeleine Hardy, one of the event’s co-ordinators. “Last year we had to turn people away. It’s always hard to tell people that we’ve sold out for the night and that they can’t fit in the theatre.”
The U of C performance of the Vagina Monologues had a similar problem this year, with tickets quickly selling out for the limited space.
“I realize that the U of C is focused on research, but I’d love for them to take some time to remember these community events, since they reinforce and build stronger communities,” Hardy says.
A larger venue isn’t the only difference for the Coming Out Monologues, as the nature of the performance pieces have changed dramatically over the last two years.
“The performances were pre-scripted for the first three years of the Coming Out Monologues in Calgary, as we just found monologues that were already written and used those,” Hardy says. “But last year and this year we have really moved towards having the performers write their own original pieces.”
This shift towards emphasizing personal stories has also allowed performers to try new and different ways of telling their stories.
“The performances come in all forms, with people doing dances, monologues and duologues,” says Hardy. “We work with these performers — some of which have never been on stage before — to prepare them and get them stage ready with voice and body movement workshops.”
This preparation can be an emotional undertaking for the cast, who are channeling their personal experiences with coming out.
“The process that you undergo to help flesh out and develop your piece is incredibly deep and emotional,” says Shiloh Mullins, one of the performers. “I experienced feelings I didn’t think I had, or I thought I had dealt with. Tears were shed. But it really helps you know you are doing the right thing.”
Mullins hopes that by sharing her experience, other people can come to understand and appreciate the difficulties faced by many members of the LGBTQ community.
“I hope that people are able to wrap their heads around the emotional turmoil involved in the process of coming out,” Mullins says. “I didn’t just decide to wear a purple shirt one day. It was an incredibly difficult decision.”