ACTORS: are you looking for original, unpublished monologues, something the casting director hasn’t heard a dozen, or a thousand, times before? Over the next few weeks, I will be posting a variety of monologues on this site. I will begin with three monologues for women (17-55) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school. All of the monologues in the play are addressed directly to the audience. They are a form of testimony—what the characters would say if they believed that someone were really listening.
You are free to use any of these monologues in the classroom or for auditions.
Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties. Contact me for rights or other information: <firstname.lastname@example.org>
(LILY is a high school senior. She is wearing a rugby jersey.)
(Slow and clear.)
“Ruck, maul. Ruck, maul. A woman’s work is never done.” Great bumper sticker, huh? I put it on my dad’s car. He tore it off. Scrubbed it clean.
A ruck: that’s like a scrum, but smaller, more impromptu. I mean, the ball is on the ground. No one has control. If you’re in the ruck, then you’re trying to push the players from the other team out of the way, so your team can get the ball. It’s such a rush. I mean, it is a total blast.
Well, maybe you have to be there.
And a maul? That might not be quite what you think it is. At least, no one’s actually supposed to end up mauled. But, hey, what’s a little subcutaneous bleeding between friends?
I used to play soccer. But rugby is more fun. It’s not so much that I’m into extraneous violence, but it turns out I’m actually pretty good at tackling 300 pound girls. And the
girls who play rugby are different too. Different from the soccer girls. Once before a game, our captain brought us a humungous bag of bagels and kept telling us to eat, eat, eat, eat! She said we were all too skinny. I can’t see that happening in soccer, can you?
My folks made me quit the team. I shouldn’t have been surprised. What can you expect from people who name their daughter “Lily”—and they always thought the name fit me. Until I started playing rugby. My dad said, why do you want to roll around in the mud with a bunch of fat, ugly lesbians? It’s true we got muddy. Hellaciously, beautifully muddy. But fat and ugly? No way. As for lesbians? To the best of my knowledge, there were only two on the team: Jennie and me.
After my parents kicked me out of the house this fall, Jennie’s mom, Marjorie, invited me to move in with them. Jennie was already away at college. Anyway, we broke up over the summer. She said I was too conflicted.
So here I am, living at my ex-girlfriend’s house with her mom and two little brothers. I’m not sure why Marjorie is willing to put up with me. The house is kind of small, pretty cramped actually, and I don’t think I’m so easy to live with—I get into these moods sometimes—and Marjorie’s husband died of cancer last year, so she already had
plenty of crap to deal with. Why would she want to add my problems to the mix? Pretty crazy if you ask me. But she’s really, really kind to me. Do you know what that’s like? To have someone be so kind to you? For no reason? Just because?
The only bad thing about not living at home is I hardly get to see my sister Sophie. She’s a pretty cool kid, in spite of being my little sister and all that.
I miss her.
I rejoined the team. They were glad to get me back. My nickname is Lily “internal bleeding” Mendelssohn.
(FRAN is a high school English teacher in her first year of teaching. At the beginning of the day she looked crisp and in control. But it is not the beginning of the day.)
Don’t talk to me about time management. The next person who talks to me about time management, I’m going to kill them. I mean, him. Or her. A pronoun must agree with its antecedent.
How many times have I written that already, and I’ve only been a full-time teacher for three months? And it’s a complete waste of time. They, my students, most of them don’t know what a pronoun is. They definitely do not know what an antecedent is. How am I supposed to explain it all in the margins of their papers? And I’m not supposed to take class time to explain that sort of thing—pronoun reference is part of the state standards for elementary school, for crying out loud, not high school.
I forgot about the Humanities meeting. I was counting on those two hours. To shop. To call my mother. I’m out of milk. Almost out of toilet paper. I didn’t take a shower this morning because I was doing last-minute prep for first period and lost track of time. I haven’t called my mother in a week. I forget about the time difference between here andIllinois, and then it’s too late to call.
Illinois. Sullivan,Illinois. Home of the only stop light inMoultrieCounty. My colleagues, they all remember I’m from the Midwest, a farm girl, so they thinkIowa, maybeKansas. Nobody remembersIllinois. It might as well beIllyria.
And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium.
Twelfth Night. Act One, scene two. I saw my first Shakespeare play in college, at theUniversityofIllinois. The Tempest. Before that, I was pre-med.
Did I really believe that teaching high school English would be all about opening young minds to the joys of Shakespeare?
Sometimes I try to imagine what Shakespeare characters my students might be if they were Shakespeare characters. Will. He would be Ariel. The magical spirit from The Tempest. He never stops moving. But J? No Shakespeare character has as little energy and passion as that girl does. She’s always there, but she just sits like a lump, passive. Until the bell rings. Then she’s up and running. Will, on the other hand, he’s almost never in class, and when he is, well, his mind appears to be somewhere else, but at least you get the feeling that wherever his mind is wandering, it’s somewhere really interesting.
I wonder where his daydreams take him. To Illyria? Or Elysium? Or just anywhere else but school?
(“Pomp and Circumstance” plays in the background. As the music fades out, SHERYL, a middle-aged woman, nicely dressed, begins speaking to the audience.)
Of course I was proud. Any mother would be proud. There she was—my daughter, my Maggie, addressing an audience of hundreds, no, thousands of people. Seven hundred and twenty students in the graduating class, plus parents, and grandparents, and teachers, and siblings. So maybe . . . three thousand people, give or take. So much to be proud of. She won a scholarship from the local TV station, “The Phoenix Scholarship,” for students who overcome difficult backgrounds in order to excel in school.
She didn’t learn how to read at the first grade level until she was nine or ten, even though we always had lots of books in the house when she was little, and I read to her every night and took her to the library for story time on Saturdays. For a couple of years, they had her tracked in Special Ed. Then, finally, one of Maggie’s teachers in seventh grade realized she was really very smart and had her tested for dyslexia. That changed everything. So I am grateful to that teacher.
When Maggie won the scholarship, the TV station interviewed her in front of the high school building and one of her friends was standing next to her. She was jumping up and down and clapping, and she said, “Oh, Maggie, you’re so perfect for the ‘Phoenix’ thing.” It was very sweet. Even the weatherman said so after the camera cut back to the studio and before he gave his forecast: “Morning fog. Clearing in the afternoon.”
So I deserve to be proud, don’t I? In the fall, she’s going toBrownUniversityon a full ride scholarship.
In her speech, Maggie said that her life changed in middle school.
(Pause. Gathers her courage.)
Her life changed when Child Protective Services took her away from me and made her a ward of the state. That’s what she said to all those thousands of people. All her amazing success, she said, she owed it to her foster parents and to her teachers and her friends.
In seventh grade, she told her teacher that when she came home from school in the afternoons, there wasn’t anyone to help her with homework, except prostitutes and drug dealers. If she remembers it that way, I can’t necessarily argue. When you’re schizophrenic, you lose chunks of your life. So I don’t know.
But what I remember was a house full of musicians and artists. And yes, there were parties. And yes, there were drugs. But where is it written that a drug dealer can’t help you with your Algebra homework? Or that a prostitute knows nothing about Catcher in the Rye?
I can tell you this much: no one in that house was ever anything but kind to her. And I never did anything but love her, or ever wanted anything except what was best for her.
I had to leave the graduation after Maggie’s speech. What with all those thousands of people sitting there in the sun despising me. So I didn’t get to see her receive her diploma. I wish I had been able to stay for that. I wish . . .
Well, there’s a whole lot of things I wish. A lot of stuff I wish were different.
(Pause. Change of tone.)
But mostly I just wish for her to be happy. I wish for her to get everything she wants, every good thing in the world . . . She deserves it all.