‘Torn Between’ touches on interracial dating
by Samaria Bailey, for The Philadelphia Tribune
Science Leadership Academy student Aimee Leong’s original monologue was featured in the Philadelphia Young Playwrights’ 2010 Professional Productions March 2-5 at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. The monologue, “Torn Between,” which deals with interracial dating, was written as an English class assignment last spring while she was a sophomore.
Leong’s teacher then submitted the writing to the Young Voices High School Monologue Festival where it was one of the winners from 400 monologues submitted that year.
“We pick the ones that have the most powerful and most potent messages to share with young people,” said Amy Hodgdon, program director for Philadelphia Young Playwrights.
Leong said “Torn Between,” was an idea that just kind of came to her, but not something she thought about too hard even though interracial dating is something she does see in her community.
“[It’s] about a girl on the trolley. She’s going on a journey mentally and physically — she’s trying to figure out whether she should do what she believes is right or do what she was taught to do is right,” explains Leong.
This mental journey Leong is referring to is one in which the character debates whether she should continue to date her Black boyfriend despite the opposition from her Asian parents. In the end, the character does not make a decision, but continues to waver.
Leong, however, said she has already decided on how she feels about the topic.
“I don’t see race being a major factor when you’re looking to date somebody,” said Leong. “I feel as though a lot of times our generation follows this one thing and are programmed to like certain things. I want people to be their own person — to be true to themselves.”
After its initial production at Interact Theater, the monologue was later featured, among other places, at a Young Voices workshop at Temple.
With the various productions, Leong was able to revise the monologue with the help of a number of theater professionals.
“We really emphasize the evolving process of writing so that what you saw at the Monologue Festival was not exactly the same as what you see now,” said Yuan Liu, marketing and communications coordinator for Philadelphia Young Playwrights.
“…We put our students on the forefront to work with these professionals [so] they’re constantly developing and reworking these plays.”
Leong said it was “amazing” to have a work of her own acted out and directed by theater professionals.
“I’ve never really taken an interest in my writing. I never felt that my stuff was good enough,” said Leong.
“For my writing to catch other people’s attention and have the actors and directors say, ‘I really like this part’ or having them point out the little messages and metaphors is amazing. It made me more confident in my writing.”