Drowning: Letters to My Therapist By Allyson DeMarco

Drowning: Letters to My Therapist

Written and Performed By Allyson DeMarco

My America

There is an undeniable strength that lies in unapologetic truth. It is when that truth is made universal that such strength begins to peak.
Inspired by Baltimore Center Stage’s My America project, this iteration of My America features a selection of monologues culled from a group of college students simply trying to figure it out. Where the Center Stage production found its voice and its resonance from the contributions of handpicked playwrights and performers, the cathartic ethos of this version emanates from its transparency. In more cases than not, the performers of the monologues you will see are also the authors of the words they are putting forth into the world.

When asked what America means to us, we can answer the question in a variety of ways. We can get political, we can reach into our subconscious and pull out whatever memories our brains will allow us to tap in to, or we can deflect entirely. It’s a big question —“What is ‘My America’?” To the passive observer or casual thinker, America is a land of opportunity, of freedom, of clichés that we’ve been spoon-fed since we had the capacity for retaining basic information. Our elementary schools handed us an idyllic tapestry of symbolism and empty platitudes and said, “Take this and run.” However, as we’ve aged, we’ve become acutely aware that our “Land of the Free” may not be as free or rife with equal opportunity for all as we once thought.

The collection we present lacks the idealism we had hammered into our heads like nails into the communities built en masse in the shadow of war. Instead, it is teeming with cynicism, overflowing with unyielding, scathing social critique and self-analysis that we would pay top dollar for on a weekly basis. Our history is put on display for questioning like a certain judge’s confirmation hearings. Our insides are taken
out, scrubbed clean and polished before each other’s eyes, forging a sense of humanness and trust that has largely been replaced by artificiality.

Things to Think About

The project was a tremendous undertaking and one done largely of the student participants’ own volition. Yes, it was an assigned project, but participation was only encouraged, not demanded. It was student run, student filmed, student written and performed. Thus, the final product is the result of a love and support of one another’s work, a testament to the respect that was cultivated in the classroom over the months of the Fall 2018 semester at Montclair State University, spearheaded by the leadership of Kaitlin Stilwell and embraced by everyone in attendance. It is a combination of perseverance and reverence, a uniform belief in the overall message of the project and the desire to bestow upon their peers a platform to voice their innermost thoughts and concerns. The stories are largely unedited, amended only as absolutely necessary, to preserve the authenticity of the original piece.

What we set out to create here was more than just a snapshot of one part of our country in one particular moment in time. Our goal was to assemble what has turned into a metaphorical patchwork quilt of verbiage and raw emotion. What we wanted to do was tell stories that will stay with whoever sees them, that will leave an impression that they’ll remember as they continue on in their everyday lives. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about America through this process, it’s that we couldn’t be less uniform in how we see ourselves. We’re a miscellaneous assortment of pieces that come together to form a whole. We’re a rainbow-colored piece of stained glass, carefully crafted and haphazardly placed together in one harmonious image that captures almost perfectly what America really is—America is the sum of its parts. And if this group of people is any indication of the larger picture, America’s parts are pretty damn beautiful.