Alone on stage, Marlande Valentin began an evening of dramatic monologues by relaying the story of a young woman at a crossroads.
“I cry as I sit on my bed, here I am 23, HIV positive and scared,” she said. “Why? ‘This is just a dream!’ I scream, but the pinch I use to wake me just busied me. I’m dying as my ignorance has overcome me.”
Valentin, a junior majoring in economics, was one of the performers in the second annual WE SPEAK BU’s performance of the Positive Monologues Thursday night, a collection of stories inspired by real people who are HIV positive.
Emmanuella Murat, one of the event organizers and a senior majoring in human development, said “The Vagina Monologues” gave them the idea to perform a set of monologues about HIV and AIDS.
“We were like, ‘Oh we should tell stories of those infected with HIV/AIDS,’ and all the stories that we told are stories of people we found online who wanted to share their stories with the world,” Murat said.
Students performed 12 monologues and poems and two musical numbers. The monologues were inspired by magazine articles, speeches and blogs found online.
Brandon Small, a senior majoring in biology, was the host and an actor in the performance. He said the monologues could be tools to show others what it is like to live with HIV.
“The monologues that are being said are actual monologues from people who have been infected by HIV/AIDS so they’re kind of like hands-on tools that we are using to express how people are affected by HIV/AIDS,” Small said.
According to Small, when people become aware of the issue, they start to take action.
“We’re hoping that individuals can take that and remember in the back of their minds at least and make proactive steps towards a healthier life,” he said.
Taylre Nwambuonwo, a junior majoring in English, said the performances were emotional, especially a scene about a woman who married a man who was HIV positive.
“I expected there to be a powerful performance, I mean I almost cried during one of the performances, so that’s what I expected and that’s what I got,” Nwambuonwo said.
Between scenes, Small told the audience the performances were not to scare people, but he encouraged the audience to practice safe sex habits.
“By all means, we’re young, have fun, but do it right,” Small said. “That’s why we have like 5,000 condoms in here! A thousand for each, please, I won’t leave until y’all taken 500 each.”
Stella Ogunleye, an actor for the Monologues and a junior majoring in psychology, said he hoped the monologues helped students relate to people affected by HIV or AIDS.
“Realize that people infected with HIV/AIDS are just like us and that it can happen to anyone of us,” Ogunleye said. “So just definitely respect them and don’t outcast them like they’re not one of us. They were just in the wrong situation at the wrong time.”
Zeinah Issah, a junior majoring in sociology, said education is key to understanding the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS.
“Being able to educate everyone like, ‘Take condoms!’” Issah said. “I really like that because honestly throughout high school they always preach abstinence, abstinence. But that’s not the case, you have like 12, 13-year-olds engage in sexual activities. So I feel like condoms are effective.”
Correction: Nov. 16, 2012
A quote in an earlier version of this article was incorrectly attributed to Melinda Momplaisir. The quote should have been attributed to Emmanuella Murat, a senior majoring in human development.