Molly McGuire ’18
The 5th annual Ada Monologues were held in Graham Hall last Friday and Saturday. Several Ada Comstock scholars shared their stories through tears, laughter and even songs. Advertising for this event read, “Every Ada is a Smithie with a past, and an awe-inspiring story to tell.”
The Ada introducing the event was met with excitement from the audience as she explained that, “There are stories that are just stories of amazing personal fortitude and rising above, and being everything that being a Smithie is about.”
Cora Lee Drew ’16J opened the program with a loving, but honest, letter to Smith itself, detailing her time here and the impact it has had on her. “I so appreciate the financial aid that made my time here possible,” she said. “But shouldn’t my gratitude include the whole experience? Like the sleepless nights in front of my computer reading words that danced in front of me from exhaustion. Or the hair-pulling and teeth-gnashing, while I tried writing papers convinced of my idiocy.”
In an interview, Drew ’16J explained that, “The Ada Monologues were the brainchild of Ada alumna Jana Burke who started as an Ada in 2011. She loved hearing our shared stories, and it inspired her to create the Ada Monologues — styled after the Vagina Monologues — so that the Ada stories would reach a wider school audience.”
Temar Lee ’AC explained the type of preparation that went into the Ada Monologues. “From marketing outreach to writing, editing and rehearsal, the preparations for the show are enormous and very much a group effort,” she said.
While the performances in the Ada Monologues are usually done by a single person who tells a narrative from their own life, Ann Grilli ’AC16 played a song that she wrote with fellow Adas Maria Wood ’AC17, Traci Williams ’AC18 and Su Meck ’AC14 as backup singers. “When I came to Smith, one of my goals was to write a song in Spanish. And this semester, I did that for a Spanish class,” Grilli said.
Besides these few exceptions, most of the Ada Comstock scholars that performed told stories about their own lives before and during their time at Smith. Meck also told the audience about her struggles with a traumatic brain injury. Meck wrote a book while she was studying at Smith about this called “I Forgot to Remember.”
Dianne Wieland ’AC16, who also shared her story during the Ada Monologues, said in an email to The Sophian that this event was significant because, “For me, it’s an opportunity to share our unique stories with the Smith community and a chance to express our pride, our gratitude and our accomplishments as Smith students.”
The Ada Monologues ended with a second musical performance. Jan Morris ’AC sang and played the guitar as her alter ego “Melinda-Marie,” a performance she has done in previous Ada Monologues. This left the program on a positive note, after traditional students, faculty and members of the Smith community learned more about the Ada Comstock program and its members.