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Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024
The Observer

Saint Mary's, IUSB to host Michiana Monologues

In late February and early March, Saint Mary's College and Indiana University South Bend (IUSB) will team up to host the Michiana Monologues, a series of performances which document local women's experiences with violence and sexual assault.

According to the production's website, the monologues, inspired by Eve Ensler's "Vagina Monologues" and written by local women, tell stories of surviving sexual assault, as well as "domestic violence, body image, women’s sexuality, and gender identity." Proceeds from the show will benefit nonprofit organizations that combat domestic violence, the website said.

According to the website, Saint Mary's performed the Vagina Monologues for several years before crafting a performance specific to the College. When IUSB students began to look into creating their own production in 2007, the two college communities decided to collaborate and include the entire South Bend community, forming the Michiana Monologues, the website said.

Saint Mary's senior Nia Parillo, co-director of the production, said the Michiana Monologues empowers all people, no matter their gender.

"There's a sense of camaraderie in the audience with the stories that are being told," Parillo said. "Some are very inspirational because they have positive messages."

Parillo said she became involved in the production after attending the 2014 performance and personally related to the stories related in the monologues.

"I went to the monologues last year as an audience member, and after I saw it I felt a great connection with it," Parillo said. "The stories were moving, and I was able to personally relate with some of the stories that were read. It was great to know that other women, especially locally, have gone through the same things as me. I felt like that with all of the readings, whether or not I personally went through the experience that was being read. I just felt [we were] connected as women, and that's why I would encourage other people to go."

Working on the production helped Parillo form new friendships and a sense of community within South Bend, she said.

"When I was presented with the opportunity to be a co-director, I was so excited," she said. "Because I did have that personal connection with the monologues and because I love the idea that women are using their voices to tell their stories, I really wanted to be a part of that.  I've really enjoyed meeting new people and being a part of something with a group of women where our ideals and passions align."

Parillo said the Michiana Monologues is a "liberating, educational and connecting experience."

"When these women read these stories, I felt connected with them, the other audience members and the women who wrote the piece," she said.

Parillo said attending the show will encourage students to leave their comfort zones.

"I think the Monologues would be such a benefit to students just because it is such a different experience, and it could really open their eyes to new things and topics," she said.

The Michiana Monologues will take place Feb. 26 at the Civil Rights Heritage Center, Feb. 27 at the State Theater in South Bend, and March 7 in the Main Auditorium on the IUSB campus.