Howdy and welcome back to Unknown Playwrights and Monologue Monday!
This is our second monologue from Josh Weckesser. The previous one is here.
This monologue is from a one-act play entitled It Came from Texas. The summary comes straight from the playwright’s site:
It Came From Texas is the story of a monster that rampages the country side, eating all in it’s path. This intrepid group of gamblers take refuge in a basement, where they do their best to ignore the world. This succeeds only in so much as the Hate Music will allow, not to mention the Female Overmind. A sci-fi fantasy western with a twist (NOTE: The previous statement is false). Really, it’s about a bunch of people pissing a day away, languishing in each other in the way that only a group of people that knows each other too well can languish.
The monologue itself features neurotic Tim dealing with a super-clingy Beth, who still loves her ex, Jonas.
Hello and welcome back to Unknown Playwrights. Now that I have finally defeated the NaNoWriMo beast, Monologue Monday is back from hiatus!
This week we bring you Kim Kutledge. This monologue was written by a (then) high school student for high school students. As far as high schooler-written monologues go, it’s not half-bad.
I can see why actors would like this. It has a whole range of emotions and involves hallucinations and Keanu Reeves. It also ends on a positive note. It looks a little difficult to pull off because it’s all over the place. And why do actors love monologues about mental illness? (Remember that Crazy monologue?) Also, Kim is unusually self-aware.
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:
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 ‘Lacuna’ which 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.
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 –email@example.com.
YouTube channel – Palesa Molefe
(is where my content can viewed, including Lacuna the short film.)
Facebook Page – Palesa Molefe
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.
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.
I could not even find out who the writer was for this one. If you know, please contact me so I can credit them.
INT: AN OFFICE
Greta has been cornered by a coworker who is angry about being removed from Greta’s social media profile.
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…
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.
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:
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?
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.
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!!!