By Kenzie Gandy '20
Marketing & Communication
TACOMA, WASH. (Oct. 28, 2019) — “Butterfly Confessions” is not your average stage play. In the words of PLU’s Director of Multicultural Outreach & Engagement, Melannie Denise Cunningham: “If you’re on a journey of cultural literacy, then this is an opportunity to step into a situation to deepen your understanding about a culture you may not know at this point.”
The project, created by Dr. Yetta Young, sheds light on the real and raw experiences of modern-day Black women while acknowledging that these experiences are not exclusive to them. Both educational and entertaining, this show serves as a source of empowerment and inspiration that everyone can connect to.
Cunningham first learned about this work firsthand when she met Dr. Young at a women’s conference two years ago. During a turn-and-talk activity, Dr. Young detailed exactly what her “Butterfly Confessions” project brings to communities.
The show is a collection of monologues and vignettes written collaboratively with a number of women Young spoke with about their own experiences. Described as a love letter to women of color, the show intentionally and authentically explores black women’s experiences of heartbreak, joy, adversity, liberation, growth and everything in between.
After the conference activity, Cunningham read the rest of the script and realized this was a project she needed to share. After two years of getting the details worked out, the show has finally made its way to PLU.
“It’s really real, it keeps us honest and it’s really refreshing. You can tell there are many different voices that went into the pieces, so there’s a feeling of connectivity to the people who wrote it — while at the same time we’re making the pieces our own,” said Cece Robinson ‘20, a senior performing in the show.
When thinking about how she wanted the show to come to life on PLU’s campus, Cunningham reflected upon the university’s first all-black production, “Fences,” directed by recent graduate Josh Wallace ‘19.
“I saw how it affected the students that were in the performance … the opportunity to bond and really feel proud about a work that had cultural relevance to them, that they could present to a larger audience,” Cunningham said. “I thought, these are the kinds of experiences that are missing for our students (of color): the development experiences.
“This is a chance to intentionally create space for a marginalized community here on campus, especially because the majority of folks that attend here are white women. It’s important that we pause and make it visible, so that we all understand the value of what we contribute to this campus life.”
“Butterfly Confessions” runs Nov. 1 (Student Night) and Nov. 2 (including a VIP reception) at 7:30pm in the Chris Knutzen Hall. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $5 for students (w/ ID) for both nights.