Fortunately, there are strong, funny monologues written by funny folks like Jenny Yang.
The monologue is about how she was offered “Asian goggles” at a ski resort by someone named Skyler.
Judging from the racism, ski resortiness and name, my money’s on Park City, Utah as the location of said monologue. Park City is as racist a town as any I’ve seen.
Speaking of Wobblies, Jenny Yang’s career has gone from badass labor organizer to badass comedian. Highlights include: making videos for Cracked and performing at Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. Her commentary has been covered by the BBC, New York Times and a bunch of other places. She also wrote for Last Man Standing, but since that was a vehicle for human turd-goblin Tim Allen, I wouldn’t call it a highlight.
[A reader sent this in. A former member of the Dramatists Guild]
i submitted to a script call for plays for young performers. i ended up being one of the ten finalists & when the plays were staged, my piece was voted “audience favorite.” i reached out to several other finalist playwrights & began an email friendship with the playwright whose piece had been awarded “best play.”
the following year, we both submitted again & quite by chance, we both submitted scripts that were sequels/companions to the previous year’s entries. there was nothing in the rules forbidding this. both my friend & i made it through the first round of judging.
then, things fell apart.
apparently, due to problems within the theater company pertaining to my friend’s script (& having nothing to do with my script), it was decided – in the middle of the judging process – that ALL sequels to the previous year’s entries would not be allowed. thanks for changing the rules without any notice while the contest was underway, folks! not only that but i only found out the real reason my play was disqualified when my friend told me – she had been given a heartfelt apology & explanation from the director/playwright running the program. i got bupkis.
[It’s nice when when theatre companies just make it up as they go merrily along]
naturally, i never submitted to them again but…a few years later, i saw their script call on a playwright site. i posted a warning that entrants should be wary of this group & was promptly flamed by several other playwrights who obviously didn’t want to offend a producer/director. glad they had my back.
[Playwright-on-playwright nutsackery must end. I’ve seen too many examples of this to count. Could be a topic for another blog post]
Thank you for reading. Don’t forget the blog offers other goodies like Unknown Playwrights (living & dead) as well as Monologue Mondays.
If you have a theatre horror story, please send it to the blog. Everyone can remain anonymous.
For us, stage intimacy isn’t just sex or nudity, it’s personal vulnerability. Intimate moments could happen between grieving siblings, close friends or lovers. One good part about Google’s definition is that it uses the closeness between husband and wife as an example.
Maybe you remember in high school how awkward that kissing scene was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream? It would’ve been nice to have someone take that awkwardness down 1,000 notches. The adult theatre needs this.
If stage combat is choreographed, stage intimacy needs to be choreographed as well. When something is choreographed, it means there is a level of accuracy to be achieved and maintained. Think about how lame unchoreographed fights would look.
Just like with fight choreography, personal safety is a mandate. Similar to dance choreography, in intimacy choreography, a person with training has created movement for the moment that heightens the actors’ performance, that furthers the story, that fulfills the director’s creative vision. As a bonus, choreography is repeatable.
This is what happens when you lack an intimacy choreographer:
All of these elements make for story-telling that is safe for the performers, clear, and consistent. Communication with the audience is part of the goal of any performance, and intimacy choreography makes that possible.
Just like a dance choreographer trains in various genres of dance and fight choreographers train with weapons and hand-to-hand, intimacy choreographers should have training in creating these moments for the stage. The two organizations linked above are doing that. I have been lucky enough to train with both.
The importance of this work transcends everything from youth theatre to ballet companies to professional theatre to ballroom dance competition teams. All of these instances require a performance of authenticity and vulnerability, for the communication of a story to an audience. A performer’s personal safety and professional integrity should never be compromised for that. Nor should the story or the audience suffer because intimate moments weren’t crafted with the same deliberation as the rest of the performance. That is what an intimacy director or intimacy choreographer does.
This is the first in a series of posts penned by Nicole Perry, a dancer, choreographer, actor, director and intimacy director. We let Bryan Stubbles have some minor input.
Please check out Nicole’s Twitter feed where she often posts about the topic.
Welcome back to the blog. This week we’re featuring The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the Moon Marigolds – a word salad title if there ever was one.
Here is a plot synopsis: It focuses on three members of the Hunsdorfer family: mother Beatrice and her daughters Tillie and Ruth. The Hunsdorfers live in what used to be Beatrice’s father’s vegetable shop, but the shop has been closed for years. Beatrice married young, a disastrous failed marriage that ended in divorce (later, her husband died by heart attack). Now the Hunsdorfers are scraping by in poverty, with apparently their only source of income being the $50 a week that Beatrice gets for boarding Nanny, a senile old woman. Beatrice is angry and bitter about her fate, hating the whole world, projecting that hate out onto her daughters. Ruth has epilepsy, and at some point in the past had a mental breakdown—a condition that runs in the family, apparently, given her mother’s school nickname of “Betty the Loon”. Younger sister Tillie is a bright high-school student with a talent for science, but her vicious mother, hating everyone who’s better off in life than she is, seeks to crush Tillie’s success.
The play is a very good one, but also very depressing. It has a small cast, all female, with a wide age range. The film version is on Youtube.
The play did quite well. It premiered at Houston’s Alley Theatre in 1964 before premiering Off-Broadway in 1970, where it ran for 819 performances.
It also won all the Obies:
It also won the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The most prominent actors in the play were probably Swoosie Kurtz (as Janice and as a replacement Tillie) and Joan Blondell (as a replacement Beatrice). Kurtz would go on to a stellar career on stage, in film and on TV. Blondell had already been super mega famous since the 1930s.
The play has been revived on Off-Broadway since and is commonly produced around the country. These are stills from the original Off-Broadway run.
Tillie: Today I saw it.
Towards the beginning of the play, Tillie is curious after having observed atoms exploding.
Ruth: She was just like you…
This is when Ruth is trying to do Tillie’s hair.
Janice: I got the cat from the A.S.P.C.A…
Tillie’s sorta rival is Janice, who basically has a cameo talking about a dead cat she used for her experiment…
Janice Vickery-same age as Tillie, competes against Tillie in the school science fair.
The Past:I got the cat from the A.S.P.C.A. immediately after it had been killed by a high-altitude pressure system.That explains why some of the rib bones are missing, because that method sucks the air out of the animal’s lungs and ruptures all the cavities.They say it prevents cruelty to animals but I think it’s horrible.(she laughs)Then I boiled the cat in a sodium hydroxide solution until most of the skin pulled right off, but I had to scrape some of the grizzle off the joints with a knife.You have no idea how difficult it is to get right down to the bones. (gong sounds)
I have to go on to The Present, now—but I did want to tell you how long it took me to put the thing together.I mean, as it is now, it’s extremely useful for the students of anatomy, even with the missing rib bones, and it can be used to show basic anatomical aspects of many, many animals that are in the family as felines.I suppose that’s about the only present uses I can think for it, but it is nice to remember as an accomplishment, and it look good on college applications to show you did something else in school besides dating. (she laughs and gong sounds again)
The Future: the only future plans I have for Tabby—my little brother asked the A.S.P.C.A. what its name was when we went to pick it up and they said it was called Tabby, but I think they were kidding him—(she laughs again) I mean as far as future plans, I’m going to donate it to the science department, of course, and next year, if there’s another Science Fair perhaps I’ll do the same thing with a dog.(third gong)Thank you very much for your attention, and I hope I win!
Tillie: He told me to look at my hand…
Tillie really likes her science teacher (pretty much the only person in the world who cares about her). This seems to be the most common monologue.
Tillie: He told me to look at my hand, for
a part of it came from a star that exploded too long ago to imagine. This part of me was formed from a tongue of fire that screamed through the heavens until there was our sun. And this part of me
this tiny part of me
was on the sun when it itself ex
ploded and whirled in a great
storm until the planets came to be.
And this small part of me was then a whisper of the earth. When there was a life,
perhaps this part of me got lost in a fern that was crushed and covered until it was
coal. And then it was a diamond millions of years later
it must have been a
diamond as beautiful as the star from which it had first come.
Or perhaps this part of me became lost in a terrible beast, or became part of a huge
bird that flew above the primeval swamps.
And hesaid this thing was so small
this part of me was so small it couldn’t be seen
but it was there from the beginning of the world.
And he called this bit of me an atom. And when wrote the word, I fell in love with
What a beautiful word.
Tillie: The seeds were exposed..
Tillie explains the experiment. Now, if you’re really into this play, Tillie is also talking about the abuse her and her sister receive from Beatrice. This is a powerful monologue when you know the context.
Beatrice: Will somebody get that…
The very next line launches into Beatrice’s monomania monologue.
Ruth: Can you believe it?
So this is Ruth getting excited about her sister’s success. Maybe.
Beatrice: Oh, I’ll tell you why…
Beatrice, like many abusive parents, has a weird way of “helping” her children. Here, she’s concerned about gamma rays and her daughter – yet calls like this are also an attempt to smother Tillie’s science passion by alienating the teacher.
Tillie: My experiment has shown…
The final monologue is also the final scene in the play. It offers Tillie’s hope, despite all her obstacles.
And thus we reach the end of our play. But we have trailers!!!