Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Laughing Wild (Tuna fish monologue) by Christopher Durang

Hello and welcome back to Monologue Monday. Today we have a monologue from Christopher Durang‘s 1987 play Laughing Wild. The monologue is commonly called the Tuna Fish Monologue.

Durang has had a pretty stellar career in drama. He has won three Obies and a Tony.

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OMG they even used a tuna in a “pay-what-you-can” production. Har har har.

This plot synopsis is taken from the Wikipedia page:

The show is written for one actor and one actress. The woman’s character is emotional and unstable, and talks about hitting someone in the supermarket who wouldn’t get out of the way of the tuna fish she wanted to buy. The man’s character is giving a speech about positive thinking, but keeps spiraling into negativity. He also, it turns out, is the man the woman hit in the supermarket. The show consists of two 30-minute monologues (and then a 30 minute second act, some of it monologue, some of it scenes between the two characters). The characters do not have official names.

And of course the monologue is the one where The Woman talks about attacking someone blocking a can of tuna. The monologue can be found here. Or below.

WOMAN: I want to talk to you about life. It’s just too difficult to be alive, isn’t it, and try to function? There are all these people to deal with. I tried to buy a can of tuna fish in the supermarket, and there was this person standing right in front of where I wanted to reach out to get the tuna fish, and I waited a while, to see if they’d move, and they didn’t—they were looking at tuna fish too, but they were taking a real long time on it, reading the ingredients on each can like they were a book, a pretty boring book if you ask me, but nobody has; so I waited a long while, and they didn’t move, and I couldn’t get to the tuna fish cans; and I thought about asking them to move, but then they seemed so stupid not to have sensed that I needed to get by them that I had this awful fear that it would do no good, no good at all, to ask them, they’d probably say something like, “We’ll move when we’re goddam ready you nagging bitch” and then what would I do? And so then I started to cry out of frustration, quietly, so as not to disturb anyone, and still, even though I was softly sobbing, this stupid person didn’t grasp that I needed to get by them, and so I reached over with my fist, and I brought it down real hard on his head and screamed: “Would you kindly move asshole!!!”

And the person fell to the ground, and looked totally startled, and some child nearby started to cry, and I was still crying, and I couldn’t imagine making use of the tuna fish now anyway, and so I shouted at the child to stop crying—I mean, it was drawing too much attention to me—and I ran out of the supermarket, and I thought, I’ll take a taxi to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I need to be surrounded with culture right now, not tuna fish.

Let’s see how YouTubers did on this one:

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LA production

Wow, we made it from the A to Z of Tuna Fish Monologue but we’re not through yet. Oh, no, kiddos. For some reason the monologue is also popular amongst German YouTubers so you get to see the same thing, except in German. The German is here. Some of the German versions start with the tuna mention instead of “Let’s talk about life” stuff.

Ich möchte mit Ihnen über das Leben sprechen. ’s einfach viel zu kompliziert, am Leben zu sein, finden Sie nicht auch? Dieses dauernde Sich-bemühen- Müssen, lebenstüchtig zu sein… All diese Leute, mit denen man’s zu tun bekommt! Ich hab versucht, mir eine Dose Thunfisch zu kaufen, im Supermarkt, da stand dieser Mensch genau da, wo ich hingreifen wollte, um mir die Thunfischdose zu nehmen, also wartete ich einen Moment, wollte sehn, ob die Leute zur Seite gehn würden, aber keine Spur – die glotzten, wie ich, auf die Thunfischdosen… nahmen sich allerdings endlos viel Zeit, lasen die genaue Zusammensetzung der Zutaten auf jeder einzelnen Dose, als wär’s ein Buch, ein ganz schön langweiliges Buch, wenn Sie mich fragen, aber mich fragt ja keiner; jedenfalls wartete ich ziemlich lange, und kein Mensch ging weiter, ich kam an diese Thunfischdosen einfach nicht ran, wollte die schon bitten, etwas zur Seite zu gehn, aber die schienen mir derartig verblödet zu sein, wenn sie schon nicht s p ü r t e n, daß ich an ihnen vorbei wollte, daß ich diese gräßliche Angst bekam, daß das auch nichts bringen würde, überhaupt nichts bringen würde, die zu bitten, die würden wahrscheinlich so was rauslassen wie: “Wir gehen weiter, wann’s uns paßt, verdammt noch mal, du Miststück!“ und was würde ich dann tun. Also hab ich vor lauter Frust zu weinen angefangen, still vor mich hin, um nur ja keinen zu stören, und trotzdem: Obwohl ich leise schluchzte, b e g r i f f dieser idiotische Mensch immer noch nicht, daß ich an denen vorbei mußte, um an den gottverdammten Thunfisch ranzukommen, die Leute sind ja derartig unsensibel, ich hasse sie einfach, also langte ich mit meiner Faust rüber und schlug sie dem einen Kerl mit aller Wucht auf seinen Schädel und brüllte: “Wären Sie so nett, beiseite zu gehen, Sie Arschloch!!!“ Und der Mensch fiel zu Boden und sah total verblüfft aus, und irgendein Kind fing in der Nähe zu weinen an, und ich weinte immer noch und konnte mir überhaupt nicht vorstellen, jetzt noch das Geringste mit diesem Thunfisch anzufangen,

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In German theatre, the director is king. I’ve noticed German monologists will modify the words and settings much more than their Anglophone counterparts.

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In Croatia, the poster is better than the play.

Thanks again for checking out Monologue Monday on Unknown Playwrights!

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Segismundo in Life is a Dream/La vida es sueño (Calderón de la Barca) – in 4 languages!!!

Howdy! This week’s monologue takes us to the Golden Age of Spanish Drama. We’ve covered this era before in Lope de Vega’s Fuenteovejuna. Now, time for Calderón de la Barca‘s seminal allegory Life Is a Dream. The following plot description is taken from a drama book from the 1930s.

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The 1640 edition.

THE horoscope of the infant Prince, Segismund, convinces the Polish King, Basilio, that Segismund is destined to bring dishonor on Poland and downfall to his father, Basilio. He therefore announces that Segismund has died with his mother in birth. Confined in a tower, deep in the rocky fastnesses of the frontier, Segismund grows to manhood chained like an animal to a ring in the floor, guarded under direction of Basilio’s confidential general, Clotaldo.

[I’m not really liking the king and I’m pretty sure Clotaldo didn’t plan on guarding one dude for decades when he made general]

As the play opens two strangers whose storm-frighted horses have bolted, stumble on Segismund’s prison. One of them confesses in a voice all too gentle for her masculine attire that she has come from Muscovy on a matter of vengeance and Segismund, for the moment unguarded, confesses that he too, thinks often on revenge. Clotaldo’s appearance is about to result in death for the newcomers when the general recognizes the stranger’s sword as one he had left years before in Muscovy as pledge for favor owed. The stranger identifies herself as Rosaura, daughter of Clotaldo’s quondam benefactor, and is proffered safe conduct to Warsaw.

[That’s convenient]

Meanwhile the King has Segismund brought to court while in a drugged sleep, to wake to all the appearances of royal splendor. His tragic story is related to him, he meets his cousins, Astolfo and Estrella, and falls promptly in love with the latter. When, however, his father, the King, appears, his desire for revenge on an unnatural father is too strong and he would have attacked the King had not the guards prevented. For this action he is returned in a drugged sleep to his prison and the King prepares to carry out his plans to marry his nephew, Duke Astolfo of Muscovy, to his niece, Estrella, and turn over his kingdom to them.

[Nobody: How much incest do you want? This play: YASSS]

Meanwhile, back in the prison, Segismund is convinced by Clotaldo that the entire day’s happenings are but a dream. Clotaldo nevertheless chides him for his unprincelike lack of self-control so effectively that when later in the day he is rescued by revolting Polish troops directed to his prison by Rosaura, he treats the vanquished King with great nobility and returns to him his forfeit crown. When he discovers that Astolfo has broken his engagement to Rosaura in hopes of gaining the Polish crown through marriage to Estrella, he dissolves the new bond, returning Astolfo to Rosaura and claims Estrella for himself.

[Unprincelike lack of self-control? You try being brought up chained to a castle with some creepy old general watching you your entire life and see how much self-control you have. And of course what happy ending doesn’t include cousin marriage?]

If you want the plot explained by Lego characters in German, look no further than here.

All joking aside, Life is a Dream is often considered the greatest Golden Age play. The themes of fate and free will are relevant today and so are the related themes of uncertainty vs. certainty.

I couldn’t find an English video of what is generally called “Segismundo’s first monologue.” So, let’s focus on Segismundo’s 2nd monologue.

Segismundo: I must control this savagery.

The English version of the monologue is indeed savage.

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Translation by Gwynne Edwards.

Now in the original Spanish:

Es verdad. Pues reprimamos
esta fiera condicion,
esta furia, esta ambicion,
por si alguna ve soñamos:
Y sí haremos, pues estamos
en mundo tan singular,
que el vivir sólo es soñar;
y la experiencia me enseña
que el hombre que vive, sueña
lo que es, hasta dispertar.
Sueña el Rey que es rey

Sueña el rey que es rey, y vive
con este engaño mandando,
disponiendo y gobernando;
y este aplauso, que recibe
prestado, en el viento escribe,
y en cenizas le convierte
la muerte, ¡desdicha fuerte!
¿Que hay quien intente reinar,
viendo que ha de despertar
en el sueño de la muerte?

Sueña el rico en su riqueza,
que más cuidados le ofrece;
sueña el pobre que padece
su miseria y su pobreza;
sueña el que á medrar empieza,
sueña el que afana y pretende,
sueña el que agravia y ofende,
y en el mundo, en conclusión,
todos sueñan lo que son,
aunque ninguno lo entiende.

Yo sueño que estoy aquí
destas prisiones cargado,
y soñé que en otro estado
más lisonjero me ví.
¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
una sombra, una ficción,
y el mayor bien es pequeño:
que toda la vida es sueño,
y los sueños, sueños son.

Dream vs. reality. Lovely. Let’s see what these monologues look like. We were lucky enough to find them in several languages. The first one is in English.

Even though the monologue is listed as a “male” monologue, please note several women performing it.

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German (!)

 

Here it is in Portuguese:

É certo; então reprimamos
esta fera condição,
esta fúria, esta ambição,
pois pode ser que sonhemos;
e o faremos, pois estamos
em mundo tão singular
que o viver é só sonhar
e a vida ao fim nos imponha
que o homem que vive, sonha
o que é, até despertar.
Sonha o rei que é rei, e segue
com esse engano mandando,
resolvendo e governando.
E os aplausos que recebe,
Vazios, no vento escreve;
e em cinzas a sua sorte
a morte talha de um corte.
E há quem queira reinar
vendo que há de despertar
no negro sonho da morte?
Sonha o rico sua riqueza
que trabalhos lhe oferece;
sonha o pobre que padece
sua miséria e pobreza;
sonha o que o triunfo preza,
sonha o que luta e pretende,
sonha o que agrava e ofende
e no mundo, em conclusão,
todos sonham o que são,
no entanto ninguém entende.
Eu sonho que estou aqui
de correntes carregado
e sonhei que em outro estado
mais lisonjeiro me vi.
Que é a vida? Um frenesi.
Que é a vida? Uma ilusão,
uma sombra, uma ficção;
o maior bem é tristonho,
porque toda a vida é sonho
e os sonhos, sonhos são.

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Portuguese B

 

This play may be worth mining for other monologues in the future.

Don’t forget to check out more monologues and our new theatre horror stories.

Have a good one!

 

Monologue Monday

Monologue Monday: Salomé by Oscar Wilde

Hello everyone and welcome back to another edition of Monologue Monday. Today we take on another Oscar Wilde monologue. We’ve covered An Ideal Husband here.

I’m stealing the plot of 1891’s Salome from the RSC website:

“Salomé is the princess of Judaea, daughter of Queen Herodias, step-daughter to King Herod. Judaea was a province of Ancient Rome during the reign of Julius Caesar. 

On the night in question, King Herod and Queen Herodias are hosting a wild, drunken banquet. Salomé sneaks away from this banquet out to the terrace to escape the leery eyes of Herod and his entourage.

On the terrace, Salomé meets a captured young Syrian prince who is totally and completely hypnotised by her beauty. But Salomé doesn’t pay attention to him. She’s more interested in the mysterious booming voice coming from a prison cell, the voice of Iokanaan, AKA John the Baptist.

Salomé demands to meet this Iokanaan and, though it’s against the rules, her wish is granted. She falls in love with him, but Iokanaan rejects her. Even so, Salomé assures him that she will kiss his mouth. No matter what, she WILL kiss his mouth. 

At just that moment, Herod and his guests burst onto the terrace looking for Salomé. He becomes increasingly fixated on her. Seeing this, Queen Herodias warns him, with more and more urgency, to stop looking at her. Despite these warnings, and a series of ominous events – Herod starts hearing the distant beating of wings and the moon turns red – he demands that Salomé dance for him.

At first she resists his demands. But, after being promised anything she wishes in return, she agrees. Salomé will dance, the Dance of the Seven Veils. But at what price? “

SPOILER ALERT: she dances in exchange for Iokanaan’s head.

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Sadly, the emojipedia lacks a Salomé emoticon.

The story of Salomé mostly comes to us from Josephus and the Bible.

Though classified as a tragedy, I founds bits of it to be funny.

Salomé isn’t the most sympathetic character out there, but it looks like a fun role. Here’s the monologue we usually see:

SALOMÉ: [Holding the severed head of Iokanaan.] Ah! thou wouldst not suffer me to kiss thy mouth, Iokanaan. Well! I will kiss it now. I will bite it with my teeth as one bites a ripe fruit. Yes, I will kiss thy mouth, Iokanaan. I said it; did I not say it? I said it. Ah! I will kiss it now. But wherefore dost thou not look at me, Iokanaan? Thine eyes that were so terrible, so full of rage and scorn, are shut now. Wherefore are they shut? Open thine eyes! Lift up thine eyelids, Iokanaan! Wherefore dost thou not look at me? Art thou afraid of me, Iokanaan, that thou wilt not look at me? And thy tongue, that was like a red snake darting poison, it moves no more, it speaks no words, Iokanaan, that scarlet viper that spat its venom upon me. It is strange, is it not? How is it that the red viper stirs no longer? Thou wouldst have none of me, Iokanaan. Thou rejectedest me. Thou didst speak evil words against me. Thou didst bear thyself toward me as to a harlot, as to a woman that is a wanton, to me, Salome, daughter of Herodias, Princess of Judaea! Well, I still live, but thou art dead, and thy head belongs to me. I can do with it what I will. I can throw it to the dogs and to the birds of the air. That which the dogs leave, the birds of the air shall devour. Ah, Iokanaan, Iokanaan, thou wert the man that I loved alone among men! All other men were hateful to me. But thou wert beautiful! Thy body was a column of ivory set upon feet of silver. It was a garden full of doves and lilies of silver. It was a tower of silver decked with shields of ivory. There was nothing in the world so white as thy body. There was nothing in the world so black as thy hair. In the whole world there was nothing so red as thy mouth. Thy voice was a censer that scattered strange perfumes, and when I looked on thee I heard strange music. Ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me, Iokanaan? With the cloak of thine hands, and with the cloak of thy blasphemies thou didst hide thy face. Thou didst put upon thine eyes the covering of him who would see God. Well, thou hast seen thy God, Iokanaan, but me, me, thou didst never see me. If thou hadst seen me thou hadst loved me. I saw thee, and I loved thee. Oh, how I loved thee! I love thee yet, Iokanaan. I love only thee. I am athirst for thy beauty; I am hungry for thy body; and neither wine nor apples can appease my desire. What shall I do now, Iokanaan? Neither the floods nor the great waters can quench my passion. I was a princess, and thou didst scorn me. I was a virgin, and thou didst take my virginity from me. I was chaste, and thou didst fill my veins with fire. Ah! ah! wherefore didst thou not look at me? [She kisses the head.] Ah! I have kissed thy mouth, Iokanaan, I have kissed thy mouth. There was a bitter taste on thy lips. Was it the taste of blood? Nay; but perchance it was the taste of love. They say that love hath a bitter taste. But what matter? what matter? I have kissed thy mouth.

Monologues are usually best delivered to severed heads, right?

Something happened with YouTube. I can’t seem to be able to link to a specific part of the video. Sorry about that.

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…and in German!!! (it starts about 50 seconds in)

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Thanks again and see you on Monday!!!

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From their site: “In this modern interpretation, we explore the results of the objectification of one extraordinary woman. How does Salome evolve under the constant scrutiny of the male gaze? What happens when she harnesses her sexuality for empowerment? A physical, feminist adaptation.” Apparently this production even went to Korea.