The Initiation: Transcript

[Theme Music]

TRENAE: From Philadelphia Young Playwrights, this is Mouthful. I'm Trenae Nuri. Every week, we'll be having a complicated conversation with a young person about the things that matter to them, things they have written about and shared on stages across the city. And then we will go out into the community and talk to teens, adults, experts anyone who can broaden the conversation.

There comes a time when we all experience puberty. Some of us get that big, red zit on our forehead, grow taller overnight or notice our voice changing. And some of us get breasts, hips and periods. All these experiences are rites of passage into adulthood whether we’re ready or not.  

But does puberty have to be such a scary period of our lives?

KALTRA: Why? Why is this happening? 

TRENAE: That’s Kaltra Zabiku. Her monologue “The Initiation” is the inspiration for today’s complicated conversation about puberty, and specifically, periods.

KALTRA: So then I call my mom I'm like, "Mom I don't know what's happening. I think I'm dying." [laughter] 

TRENAE: Let’s listen to “The Initiation” written by Kaltra Zabiku performed by Donovan Lockett, live at the 2018 Mouthful Monologue Festival.

ACTOR (DONOVAN): I hate the gym. Well, I hate school gym. And I absolutely despise it today because Coach Crosby is making us run the mile, and I don’t do running ooh no sir. I am a self-proclaimed artist. I can run the length from this locker room to Canada with my brush strokes in the span of FIVE mins. But physically running? Now THAT’S medieval torture. Everyone is sweaty, gross, and no one really knows how to use deodorant yet in middle school.

I hate this locker room most of al-um? why does Ronnie have curves? Jessica and Sarah over here won’t stop talking about their damn periods.


I swear, every girl can’t stop talking about their period and their stupid made up cramp stories to get out of doing gym. But...Ronnie’s curves do look nice...I really wish I didn’t look like a cardboard.

My boobs… they aren't boobs, they're nonexistent. Not there. Imaginary. I’m a stick... straight as a pin.

If I'm being honest with myself maybe I’m just a little tiny bit jealous that the girls I’ve known since kindergarten started out with the same body as mine and now all of a sudden they decide to look like Jessica Rabbit!

All long locks and fancy fingernails flaunting it all to make ME jealous.Ugh, despicable.

OKAY MAYBE A LOT OF BIT JEALOUS. It’s not fair! I’m thirteen and It’s not my damn fault that my body won’t speed up. I drink lots of milk cause apparently that has hormones. I pray every night to whatever is up there. I even wear pads EVERYDAY just in case it might come one day…well maybe not today cause ya know it gets pretty uncomfortable to run an ENTIRE MILE.

I know these things take time and I shouldn't be so ready to grow up but, I want to grow up!

I want to talk about stupid tampon discoveries...whatever tampons are… wait no I think I heard they're painful and kinda go...ya know up there. Besides imagine me telling my dad to go pick up a box at the grocery store… He’ll be all, “YOU’RE GROWING UP TOO FAST GAHHH” That’s really embarrassing to think about, I think I'll hold off on the tampon discoveries. But I really want Ronnie’s curves. All the boys in my grade compliment her and she goes out with the high schoolers every Friday night. While my Friday nights consist of binge watching Full House and eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s chocolate chip cookie dough all by myself. She’s living the life all because of her stupid period.

You know what, I don’t care anymore. I know I am all ninety pounds of pure woman! I don’t need something as scary and miserable as blood. Yeah I said it, blood is miserable! It represents death. and I don’t want to die… oh my gosh what if girls die and are revived when they first get their period. Is that a conspiracy theory? I’m gonna go google that later. Yeah, I think me not getting my period is honestly for the best.

I have a red… what? Oh yeah that’s probably just my dad messing up the laundry load again. What? What’s funny? I had my what? I’m confused. Stop laughing Ronnie goddammit just tell me. No way, you’re lying to me. Are you serious?  I can’t tell Coach Crosby about this. I need to find my jacket and tie it around my hips. Okay, I prepared myself for this. I watched at least 35 “Period Hacks” videos on Youtube, I got this.

Oh my god, oh my god, no way... shit.

TRENAE: Mouthful producer Mitchell Bloom and I sat down with Kaltra at the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Offices to talk about her monologue.

TRENAE: Why did you choose this topic to explore?

KALTRA: So when I was thinking about things that I wanted to write I thought about the fact that I was a girl and like the most prevalent thing that happens to every girl is getting her period. And I thought like I'd add a little funny twist to it.