A choreopoem is a choreographed series of poems that integrates performance poetry, dance, music, song, live art, and, if you do it Monica's way, parkour. The term was coined by Ntozake Shange in 1975, with her choreopoem, For colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf.
(Rest in Power, Queen Shange. We miss you, but thank you for every trail you've blazed.)
The genre focuses on blending different art media on stage to articulate a complex or emotional experience. It shies away from traditional drama narrative, and instead utilizes poetry to highlight separate "rooms" of thought that all relate to a central theme.
Monica teaches WRIT 260: The Choreopoem at Susquehanna University. To request her syllabus:
Monica wrote Confessions in Living Color(ed) in the fall of 2011. With the help of her co-director D'Angelo Smith, and her loyal Confessions army, the show premiered at Knox College in April 2012.
This choreopoem focused on the trials of college-aged people of color navigating white spaces, while seeking out the route to living the best life possible. The central theme of this show is finding "space between my heart and my hips," a metaphor for the search for a good life within barriers.
This version of the show was officially retired following Monica's graduation from Knox College in June 2012, but the script is still available at the Seymour Library on campus.
Monica radically revised Confessions in Living Color(ed) in the summer of 2015, and renamed the show Testify. Thea and Avery Wigglesworth of the CutOut Theatre directed and produced Testify in Brooklyn, NY in December 2015.
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Monica wrote Something to Keep Me Vertical as her graduate thesis project in 2014. With her co-director Nick Bearden, the show premiered at Georgia College & State University in February 2015. The show briefly toured at South Georgia State College in April 2015.
Interviews with fifty people in and outside of the United States birthed this choreopoem about millennial love, sex, and relationships. The central theme of this show is "This one is mine," a rallying cry for self-care, sexual liberation, and healthy relationships -- with our partner(s), exes, children, and selves.
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Monica wrote How to Exterminate the Black Woman as part of her self-care regimen while working five jobs in Denver in 2016. She completed the script in December 2017, and the show premiered on the Susquehanna University campus in April 2018 to sold-out audiences. It also received a staged reading at the Vintage Theater in Denver, CO as part of the International Women's Voices Theatre Festival, directed by Margaret Norwood.
This choreopoem is a love letter to Black women in the United States during the #BlackLivesMatter movement. The central theme is the sestina, a cyclical poetic form that asks the same question continuously until it reaches the beginning of the poem once again. The show asks Black women how to raise a child in a world that seeks to erase them, and asks if it's even worth the effort to reproduce at all when the extermination of people of color is at the forefront.
To read about Monica's thoughts about this show, check out her Culture Rant with SFWP here.
For script and performance rights, either email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here:
Monica wrote Roadmap as a dare from an ex, and has since revised it to fit her writing aesthetic surrounding the lives of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & People of Color) navigating existence in the United States. This show premiered at Susquehanna University in April 2019.
Specifically, the show surrounds the experience of Dorian, who wants to thwart his most likely cause of death: homicide. Using his family tree, he traces all his options and decides if destiny is decided by your skin color, your family's mistakes, or your own beautiful choices. Using a chorus of research and statistics, Dorian tries to figure out if once the ancestors have decided, is there anything to be done?
For script and performance rights, or info on coming to see the performance: