Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: No by Palesa Molefe

Hello and welcome back to Monologue Monday. This week’s monologue is perhaps the most unique monologue featured on the site so far.

It is simply, yet strongly, the word “no” repeated. This is an incredibly powerful monologue that forces the actor to, well, act. It isn’t merely saying “no” with different tones. The writer/performer Palesa Molefe runs the gamut of human emotions as she expresses various iterations of the word “no.”

As a produced monologist myself, Molefe has achieved with one word anything greater than I have (I know it’s not a competition). Let’s take a look:

 

Many people in life find it hard to say no. Palesa Molefe isn’t one of those people.

Specifically, women have been conditioned to not say “no.” This monologue attempts to shatter that mold.

On the flip side of things, there are people who say “no” to everything, but they tend to exist in Jim Carrey movies.

As for the performance aspect, I asked actor, dancer, director and intimacy choreographer Nicole Perry for her take on this monologue:

This monologue is great for actors working on developing emotional nuance or range. Similar to the Meisner game that requires partners to repeat, the monologue is simply the word “no”. Memorization made easy! 

This monologue is a great showcase of “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”! Each repetition is different. She covers great emotional range throughout the performance, and a variety of commitment levels and/or intentions. From adamant denial to a meek admittance, from scoffing to delight.  

Because the words are easy to remember, this could also be a great monologue to work on movement. As a movement analyst, I’m interested in when our movement supports what we are saying, and when our movement belies our true intentions. This would be a great piece to play with not just saying “no” with a variety of emotions and intentions, but also adding a layer of movement that either supports or denies what you are saying! What characters/situations come up for you as you experience this? 

I love that this monologue allows us to say “no”. Frankly, in 2019, it’s a skill we need to practice. As actors, we are conditioned to say “yes”. But, as the Broadway Intimacy Director Claire Warden likes to say “No is a full sentence”. If, as a performer or an acting student, you are put in a position that is unsafe, triggering, or questionable, you have the right to ask questions, or to just say “no”. The difficulty in this is that the power dynamic of actor/director, particularly if it’s student actor/adult director, makes us very fearful of the consequences of saying “no”. So, practice saying “no”. I hope you always get to train and work in situations that honor your agency and personhood, and allow you have and hold your boundaries. But, in case you don’t, know how to say “no”. 

Ms Molefe was kind enough to give us her introduction:

My name is Palesa Molefe a 20-year-old self-taught actor and scriptwriter from Botswana. I have always had a love for the arts, specifically film and stage performance, however my acting career truly began after the short film ‘Lacunawhich I wrote, produced and featured was amongst the official selection in the Botswana National Film Festival 2018. I’ve gained recognition for my creative and unorthodox style of storytelling. Currently I am working under my mentor Mr. Tefo Paya – an internationally recognized performer and director from Botswana, to help develop and sculpt my career. 

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Palesa Molefe, monologist extraordinaire.

Beyond introductions, Ms Molefe went out of her way to answer some questions for us.

Where did the idea come from to write/perform this monologue?

  I wanted to give light to the abuse women in Botswana go through. For reasons only known to us, most of us stay silent after having gone through such a traumatic experience. This piece to validate every woman’s ‘NO’, whether she’s saying it drunk or nervously laughing because she might be afraid. Her no is valid and she’s worth being listened to and taken seriously.

How did your prepare/rehearse this monologue?
  I did not rehearse this monologue because I know that women who have gone through this weren’t given the luxury. The day I decided to shoot the monologue, I grabbed my camera, set it up in my room, gave myself time to find my center and remembered all the stories I had heard prior to that moment. I then allowed myself to feel every emotion that needed to be felt in each moment as I started to record. 

What has the response been?
  I come from a very conservative country, so it was a bit of a culture shock. The delivery of the message was different from what a lot of people had seen but overall viewers were warm and appreciative of the message. 

Have you done much other writing, dramatic or otherwise?
  I continue to write to this day. I have plans for these scripts, whether it’s to share them on stage, film or just to keep them to myself. I recently returned from a tour around Botswana called ‘Madi Majwana’, it focused on using theatre as a tool to educate people from all walks of life on financial literacy. Right now I am focused on being a good student and learning from the ones who came before me in the creative industry.

What was the hardest thing about this monologue?
  Being honest. Being honest about how I truly felt in telling the story of many women.

What are your influences?
  What I feel, hear, think and see every day plays a big part in what influences me. If I was to move to a different country, my story and my truth would be different from the one I have now. I would experience life differently, I would hear different stories, I’d think differently because new environment adjustments and I’d see different scenery, different people, different ways of life.

What advice do you have for other performers/writers who want to use their voice for activism?
  Only you can tell your story best. When you’re convicted to write a script or perform a piece, do it in a way you know only you can. That means trusting in your capabilities, trusting in your own voice, in your own truth and owning it. You have to admit that it’s kind of hard to write a story about the life of a 50-year old man in Africa whilst you’re a 25-year old young man from America because well that’s not your story, it’s not your truth.

What do you have coming up next? How can we find out more about you?
  Currently I am working on a script for another short Film. It’s still in its early stages but it will be out and up on my YouTube channel before this year comes to an end.
 Email –  paalesamolefe1234@gmail.com.
YouTube channel – Palesa Molefe 
(is where my content can viewed, including Lacuna the short film.)
Facebook Page – Palesa Molefe

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Botswana should be more famous just for having a neat flag. 

Ms Molefe is truly one of the most impressive theatre people I’ve interacted with. Please subscribe, follow or contact her. Folks like Ms Molefe are the future of theatre.

Feel free to check out all our monologues, unknown playwrights or theatre horror stories.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Social Media

I couldn’t really find out much about this monologue except you can download it here.

Don’t worry, I’ve copied the text below.  The monologue is good at pointing out how social media has modified or co-opted the concept of friend.

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“Friend”

I could not even find out who the writer was for this one. If you know, please contact me so I can credit them.

SOCIAL MEDIA

INT: AN OFFICE

Greta has been cornered by a coworker who is angry about being removed from Greta’s social media profile.

GRETA

Look, I’m sorry, Louisa, it wasn’t personal or anything. I’ve just started unfriending people who aren’t strictly relevant to my social life. Yikes, that sounded wrong and I can see the angry Tweet forming in your brain, but come on, hear me out.

You and I are friends…in a professional context. I like chatting with you here at the water cooler or at potlucks. I mean, I like being on your team when we do company bowling, because you’re an awesome bowler.

(Louisa does not look appeased.)

Okay, I can see I’m doing a bad job at this. It’s just…you don’t really want to see my Facebook updates about going to nightclubs in the city and I’m tired of reading about marriage and pregnancies and nightly family Boggle sessions and life-changing trips to Europe.

Ugh, not, not like your trip to Europe. Barcelona looked absolutely magical. I meant it general. It’s like…

(Deep sigh.)

Do you ever feel like everyone’s living a better life than you? Or at least acting like it? From what I can tell, two-thirds of my friends have the most adventurous, fulfilling careers that anyone could ever have. And the rest of them have perfect children and ideal spouses. There’s some overlap in there too, which is really unbearable. Or, I don’t know, maybe they’re all faking it. I guess I am too. I’m not posting about sitting under these fluorescent lights fifty hours a week. Or going home to a cat now that James left for good. Or dressing a body pillow in his old clothes and sleeping with it.

(Stares at the ground, Louisa completely forgotten.)

So anyway, that’s why I unfriended you. I just didn’t want to get too personal with my coworkers.

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Hopefully this monologue gets more mileage. For those of you interested, this blog offers Unknown Playwrights, Theatre Horror Stories and plenty more monologues.

 

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Hate Male by Daniel Guyton

Fair warning, this monologue is not for the faint of heart. Nor should it be for high schoolers. 

This is a very, very angry monologue by Daniel Guyton.

Mr. Guyton’s work encompasses everything from children’s plays about fairies to something called Grimbaldt, the Christmas Pimp.

This monologue has the following setup:

Situation: Gretchen has been convicted of the pre-planned murder of her uncle, who raped her repeatedly when she was a child. Now that she’s in prison, she wants revenge on all men for the terror that she went through. The security guard is her most immediate target.

Here is a sample from the monologue:

GRETCHEN:

Yeah I shot him. What’cha gonna do about it, huh? Fucking pig. Fucking woman-hating, vaginaphobic son of a bitch! That shithead had it coming. Don’t look at me with those sad eyes! Those puppy dogs! Those droopy goopy cellophanes! What’cha gonna do about it huh? Feel sorry for me punk? Fuck you! You goddamn pansy! Momma’s boy! Sad sack loony tunes, probably can’t even please a woman, can ya?!? (She leans in seductively) Probably don’t even know what a pussy looks like. Do you?  If I showed you my mine, would you even know what to do with it? (She chuckles) Yeah, I didn’t think so. These bars can’t hold me in. These walls can’t shackle me. I am transcendental. I am existential! I am anti-matter, ectoplasm, plant destroying phytoplasm. I will melt into the floorboards, delve into the ether, I will eat the ground beneath my feet, and swallow up asbestos. I will rise up on the other side, a thousand times larger than I am right now, and I will cut you while you’re sleeping. I will fuck your family, and I will eat your goddamn dog for dinner! That is – assuming that you have one. Do you have a dog there, Mr. Guard? Mr. Doggy Guard? Or are you just a pussy man like I think you are? (Small pause) Don’t even look at me. Don’t even breathe near me. Every particle of air you spew is like a toxin. Every sound you make is … (She spits at him) Just get away from me. (She turns away) Why don’t you leave me alone? (Small pause) I did what I had to do. What someone had to do. What my father should have done a million years ago – I put that fucker down. Like the rabid bitch he was. (She sits) Why are you still looking at me? Shit. (She wipes a tear from her eye) Do you want a blow job? Is that…? (She shrugs) Fine. Whatever. Bring it in here, buddy, I’ll suck you off. Just like every other guy in the universe. ‘Just blow me and I’ll let you live.’ (Pause) Well, what the fuck are you waiting for? I gave you an invitation, didn’t I?

For the rest of the monologue, feel free to contact the playwright for performance rights. He’s a pretty good guy and will probably say “yes.”

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Always available on Amazon.

Here is a video the monologue’s rehearsal:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t forget we have happier monologues for both females and males. Also, feel free to check out out Unknown Playwrights and Theatre Horror Stories.

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: The Best Marriage Advice from “Black and White and Red All Over” by Tara Meddaugh

Hello dear readers! We’re back with yet another Monologue Monday – this week we are featuring Tara Meddaugh’s monologue The Best Marriage Advice taken from the full-length play Black and White and Red All Over.

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You might be thinking that Meddaugh has become Unknown Playwrights’ resident monologuer. Not quite, but her monologues are pretty dang good. This monologue is classic Meddaugh, written in 1998 and brimming with her unique brand of humor.

The synopsis, taken from her site, is…

A frivolous couple passes the time by hiring and firing servants, and reading old newspapers they deem to be the current. But when the Wife wants more out of her life, she charges her Husband with a perilous task… Meanwhile, four eclectic strangers wind up secretly waiting together in this couple’s bathroom. When they discover the reasons they have all been put together, the absurdities and danger of their situation become alarmingly clear.

The monologue itself extols the virtues of keeping things on leashes, so they don’t run into the street and get squashed by cars. Meddaugh even has a neat Q & A about the play on her site.

As the monologue setup describes it:

Scene: Georgia is speaking to a young man and woman who have just met in this encounter. The couple is in the bathtub, shower curtain pulled so Georgia cannot see them, but they are presumably making love, as they both have admitted they are young and attractive, and this should be the natural course of events. Georgia is a make-up artist, and older, believing she has much wisdom to impart.

I could put the monologue right hee, but you should run over to Ms. Meddaugh’s site and get it (for free).

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Though written for a female character, I’m pretty sure a male performer could do this, no problem.

For more of Meddaugh’s monologues, please check here.. If you want to read some Theatre Horror Stories, here they are.

Join us next week for another rip-roarin’ monologue!

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Asian Goggles by Jenny Yang

Howdy and welcome back to Monologue Mondays!

As this blog has pointed out (again and again [and again]) Roles writing gigs directing gigs monologues opportunities are hard to come by in American theatre if you’re not super mega white and male.

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.

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Wobbly graffiti from 1916 survives in the old Park City jail. Pretty much the coolest thing that town has to offer.

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.

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8/03: Literally the question nobody asked nor cared about.
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9/13: And there’s the answer!!! I’m sure Tim Allen painted lots of IWW graffiti whilst in the hoosegow.

Too bad Ms. Yang can’t get her own sitcom. If you want to know more about her and her accomplishments, please check her site out. The monologue can be found in this wonderful collection.

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Asian goggles are more than a monologue – they exist!!!

Now, let’s check out some videos of this monologue, including by the writer herself!

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Thank you so much for reading this blog and thanks to Ms. Yang for writing such amazing material.

For another Asian-centric monologue, please check here .

Can you stomach Theatre Horror Stories?

Until next time…

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Tillie, Ruth, Beatrice & Janice in The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Paul Zindel)

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:

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Plus a couple others.

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 debuted on Broadway in 1978 and ran for two weeks. Shelley Winters played Beatrice and Carol Kane played Tillie.

You can read the whole play here.

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.

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Tillie: Today I saw it.

Towards the beginning of the play, Tillie is curious after having observed atoms exploding.

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Ruth: She was just like you…

This is when Ruth is trying to do Tillie’s hair.

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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!

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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
it.
Atom
Atom
What a beautiful word.

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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.

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Beatrice: Will somebody get that…

The very next line launches into Beatrice’s monomania monologue.

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Ruth: Can you believe it?

So this is Ruth getting excited about her sister’s success. Maybe.

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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.

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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.

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And thus we reach the end of our play. But we have trailers!!!

Mexican trailer

 

Argentine trailer

 

US trailer

 

UK trailer

French trailer

Here’s a Canadian high school production.

A Romanian language TV version.

Romanian university theatre version.

Argentine production.

Mexican production

Israeli production

And here are some stills from a French-language Montréal production in the early 70s. You can read that here.

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Don’t forget to check out more monologues, theatre horror stories and unknown playwrights.

Bye!

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Catherine from Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music by Lee Blessing

Howdy folks. We’re back with another exciting edition of Monologue Monday.

Today’s monologue comes to us from a play with a great title: Nice People Dancing To Good Country Music. This play dates from 1982. The following synopsis comes from a 2016 production:

Eve Wilfong, who lives over the “Nice People Dancing to Good Country Music Bar,” is paid a visit by her niece Catherine Empanger, a novice nun who’s been asked to leave her convent. It seems Catherine suffers from a curious compulsion to yell obscenities at the wrong moment, and even, on occasion, bark like a dog. Roy, an honest if simple fellow from the bar downstairs, wants to court Catherine whether she’s a nun or not. Eve feels she should give her niece the benefit of her experiences with men before allowing her to venture back into the mad modern country world. What follows is not simply comic and well-observed, but romantic and affecting as well.

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From a university production.

Given Catherine’s predisposition to bark like a dog – and the fact Roy wants to romance her…comedic conflict arises by the manure truckload.

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Every production has a beat-up truck. Oh, and love the tire iron.

Lee Blessing has gone on to have a great playwriting career, including winning many awards.

Here’s a 2009 production talking about the play:

 

Here is a trailer from 2009 college production:

 

This is Catherine’s monologue, taken from this miraculous site.

 I noticed it one day a few months ago. I was going to breakfast one morning — a morning like any other morning—and I passed one of the sisters in the hallway. She∗s a woman I saw every day, someone I’d never harbored an evil thought about. She smiled as she went by, looking serene, and I smiled back at her and said, “Isn’t this a lovely morning, Sister Shit?”. I don’t know where it came from. It’s one of my clearest memories, though: the look on her face, the way she recovered almost at once, and asked me to excuse her, but she hadn’t quite heard . . . And even I wasn’t sure at that moment, just what I’d said. I couldn’t have said what I thought I’d . . . So anyway, I smiled pleasantly and apologetically, and took a deep breath, and said, “You heard me, Fart-face,” and walked on. I did. I swear I didn’t mean to. Sister Beatrice never hurt me in her life. She was one of the ones I liked best. And it‘s not even a matter of that. We’re in the same holy order, we’re children of God. It just came out of me. Like speaking in tongues or something. The words just leaped out of me. They had to be spoken. That’s what my psychologist said. Wouldn’t you see a psychologist? I saw everybody. I saw lots of people in the Church: priests, nuns, bishops — everyone. I cussed them out. All of them. Except God and my psychologist. Eve, I never meant to say any of those things. But I couldn’t help it. I started swearing like a linebacker every time I saw the convent. And I’d say other things, too. Irrational things. I’d recite the backs of Wheaties boxes. Not at breakfast — other times: during devotions, working in the garden. I didn∗t even know I read the backs of Wheaties boxes. It was just there, suddenly, word for word. I don’t know why Wheaties, it’s what we ate. But other things, too. Things I∗d heard on the radio, rules from games I played as a kid, bird calls, sounds from comic books: Bam! Rat-a-tat-tat! Ka-boom! Usually during meditation. The psychologist said that I wasn∗t cut out to be a nun. He said I was unconsciously trying to break out of the constraints of convent life. It’s not the obscenity. I got no bigger thrill saying fart-face than yelling “red light green light” or barking like a dog. It was the impropriety of it. That’s all I wanted. To shock people. To shock myself. I’ve been numb for months. I mean, there I was — I had everything planned out. I was committed to a life of service in the Church, and suddenly it was . . . Sister Shit. My parents didn’t say anything. Nothing helpful. I went home to explain — you know, maybe stay a week? I was there three days. They couldn’t believe I’d failed at ‘my life’s mission.’ They spent the whole time whimpering like a pair of lost puppies. (Sighs.) Finally, Mom accused me of wanting to have children, and I left. So, I came down here. I didn’t know where to go. Nobody up there would talk to me. And I didn’t want to go see Aunt Margaret. I don’t know what I’ll do now. Live a normal life, I guess. I always thought I’d be special, a little more . . . something than the usual person. But I’m just the usual person.

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Thanks so much for reading. Be sure to check out other monologues as well as our theatre horror stories.

And as an unusual treat – did you know an Indonesian country singer teamed up with a Dutch country singer on a song about Mississippi?

Well, now you know. And you can try to dance to it.

 

Oh and here’s Johnny Cash singing in German.