Breasts will be all the rage at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center this July for the annual Breast Dialogues, an evening of comedic and dramatic monologues centered around breasts and the experiences of having — or not having — them.
Based structurally on The Vagina Monologues, a groundbreaking 1996 play by Eve Ensler that explored the taboos, heartbreaks and joys surrounding the sexual organ, The Breast Dialogues has featured monologues by local men and women of all sexual orientations and gender identities, said Jennifer Nuttall, Adult Programs Director of the Utah Pride Center, which sponsors the performance.
“We got quite a few people responding [to our call for submissions] this year and a great group of people working on their stories. It’s going well,” she said. “The exciting thing every year is that it’s a little bit of waiting to see [what people come up with].”
This year’s performance is scheduled for July 17, meaning that the number and order of the evening’s pieces are still being established. And many performers are still writing their monologues. Each year, the Center holds workshops for interested writers, who spend the time drafting their pieces, or just brainstorming ideas with other participants.
“They come in with nuggets of an idea and start going,” said Nuttall.
Although it is too early to tell where these nuggets of ideas will go, Nuttall nonetheless said that this year’s monologues would “run the gamut of experiences, as they do every year” and include performers of all ages, including one member of SAGE, the Center’s program for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people ages 50 and over. At this point, she noted that two transgender women are planning on participating as well, giving voice to a part of the community that has often been underrepresented or absent from the dialogues. Additionally, Nuttall said that a cisgender (non-transgender) man is also planning to perform.
“There’ll even be a stick figure animation to accompany one of the monologues,” she said.
In years past, the dialogues have often included stories of women who have survived breast cancer or whose lives have been touched by the disease in some way. Given that the performance is supported by a grant from the Salt Lake City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation for breast cancer research and prevention, its attraction for survivors seems obvious. Yet, Nuttall said that none of the monologues being written so far touch upon this issue.
“One of the things that’s always difficult for survivors is that it often times depends on where they are at in the process — if they’re ready to get up and talk about it,” said Nuttall. “But every year breast cancer does seem to weave through [the dialogues]. It’s a big fear for anyone who has breasts, and it does manifest through story process.”
Although local actors performed the monologues in one past performance, Nuttall said that the writers have performed them ever since.
“I feel like the one year we did actors was an interesting experience, but it did lose some of the raw emotion that comes when someone performs their own story,” she said. “It can kind of be scary and intimidating but very empowering when you can get on stage and perform.”
“I’m always amazed and in awe at how people can share such important things and do such a good job of it,” she said.
This year’s Breast Dialogues will be co-directed by Laekin Rogers and Alison Satterlee and will run between 60 and 90 minutes, depending upon how many people end up participating and how long each monologue runs. The performance will be held at the Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center’s Black Box Theatre, 138 West Broadway, on July 17 at 7:30 p.m. The suggested donation is $10 per ticket, and all proceeds will go to the Center’s Alternative Wellness Program, which works to educate lesbian, bisexual and transgender women about their specific health risks as well as advising them on how to live a healthier life overall. SWerve, a local civic and social group for queer women, will provide refreshments and drinks afterwards.
The performance is open to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.