Comic monologue for female actor

[As with other monologues on this site, you are welcome to use the following piece for auditions or in the classroom. Public performances require my express permission and may be subject to royalties/licensing fees.]

from AFTER THE PROLOGUE, loosely adapted from Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale.

(ALISON enters and checks out the audience. She is pleased with what she sees.)

ALISON
An audience. Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had an audience? A living, breathing, gossiping with their neighbors, audience?
(Pauses to do the math)
Six hundred and twenty-six years. Give or take a few months.

You do know me, don’t you? Alison—the gap-toothed pilgrim lady? From The Canterbury Tales?

Right. “The Wife of Bath.” That’s me. A good woman from the city of Bath, on a pilgrimage to Canterbury, with—like everybody else—a story to tell. But you may not remember my story.

What you remember, most likely—if you remember anything—is the prologue to my story. Naturally. Because of the queynte and so forth. And the husbands. Five of them. Which was a lot even in those days. My last husband, Jankin, the clerk, he was my favorite. Twenty years younger than me, and oh, so handsome … With Jankin, I was never stingy with my queynte, believe me. Queynte. It’s a beautiful word, isn’t it? Like the thing itself. So you are forgiven for dwelling on the subject.

But it’s a pity you don’t remember my story. Because it’s an excellent fable with a very wise moral—and even a happy ending. If you can believe it.

So listen up.

(A storytelling mood is established, whether by lighting, music, gesture, costume, tone of voice, or all of the above.)

In the good old days when Arthur was our king,
Yes, he of whose great deeds the poets sing,
When fairies wandered freely everywhere,
Then was the elfin queen both wise and fair.
In joyful company she often danced,
And any man who saw her was entranced.

Adventuring one day, a handsome knight
Laid eyes on her and loved her at first sight.
But quicker than the breathing of a sigh,
The elf-queen fled into a grove nearby.
The knight rode after her, but she was gone.
And in his frantic chase he came upon
A pretty thing, a girl who, I’m afraid—

(Abruptly, ALISON breaks out of story-telling mode.)

ALISON
(With relish)
Don’t you just love iambic pentameter? And rhyming couplets? They make everything sound so … fabulous. Even a rape scene. Because, of course, a rape is what’s about to happen.
(She holds up her fingers one at a time, counting the stresses.)
A pretty thing, a girl who, I’m afraid,
(Holding up her open hand)
Got it? Five strong beats. That’s iambic pentameter.
(She closes her hand into a fist.)
Now we’re onto the next line.
(Slowly, holding up one, then two, then three fingers)
When he was done, she was …
(Pause.)
Wait for it … Wait for the rhyme …
(Pause.)
When he was done, she was no more a maid.

See what I mean? Once the pattern has been established, you can’t help but desire to experience its completion.

Now, we segue to the court of King Arthur where the wretched, sinful knight has been apprehended for his foul deed and condemned to death. But the queen begs for mercy … in a manner of speaking.

More FREE AUDITION MONOLOGUES for WOMEN

ACTORS & TEACHERS: are you looking for original, unpublished monologues, something the casting director hasn’t heard a dozen, or a thousand, times before? Over the past couple of weeks, I have been posting a variety of monologues on this site. I began with three monologues for women (see post of May 27, 2012) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school. I continued with two monologues for men from the same play (see post of June 1, 2012). Today, I post two monologues, both for women. The first is from Disclosure, the second from The Bay at Aulis.

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: clashof@gmail.com

More MONOLOGUES for WOMEN

from Disclosure
a full-length stage play (3w, 1m)

After keeping a secret for thirty-five years, Maya is determined to disclose the truth, confront the past, and move on. But it proves to be harder than she imagines to talk to the people she loves the most about events that no one else seems to remember. Set in the present in a college town, Disclosure probes the fault lines between memory and narrative; pleasure and transgression; love and the abuse of power.

The following monologue ends act one.

MAYA
(To the audience.)

How many times have I imagined the scene? The confrontation scene. The scene where I gathered all my courage and did the one thing I have most wanted to do, and most feared to do. Dreaded. Longed for. The thing that would change my life forever.

I have imagined the time. The place. Imagined what I would say. Imagined his face when I said it. But then what? Did I think he would grovel, beg for forgiveness?

I don’t know. My imagination leapt ahead to some later time, after the great moment—the great traumatic—and possibly triumphant—at the very least, the climactic or … maybe the catastrophic or the cataclysmic or the apocalyptic … most certainly, the cathartic moment. I imagined how I would feel later, when I had become a different person, a person who was done with the past.

Over it. Done with it. Ready to let the healing begin.

But here is what I did not imagine: what he would say after I said, “This is what you did to me.” What he did say.

Which was: I did? When?

I said: When I was nine, ten, eleven.

He said: Are you sure?

I said, yes, I’m sure. How can you not be sure about something like that? And then, for a moment, I wasn’t.

He said, memory plays tricks. But I am. I am sure.

And he said: It was a long time ago. He said: You were young. He said that he was drunk, that he was drunk a lot in those years. He said he was sorry, sorry for being drunk.

And I said again: Here is what you did to me.

And he said: If I did that, then I’m sorry. But I don’t remember. And then he … shrugged his shoulders. And he said again, sadly, “I’m sorry.” Not meaning, I believe, to be cruel. And I just stood there staring at him, speechless. And after awhile, I turned around and left. Because there was nothing else to say.

———————————————————————-

Opening monologue from The Bay at Aulis
a ten-minute stage play (2w, 1m)

At rise, CLYTEMNESTRA is standing center stage, sharpening a knife. She speaks to the audience.

CLYTEMNESTRA

You think I should welcome him home with open arms? Roll out the red carpet? Ten years away fighting for his country, the victorious war hero deserves a royal welcome—
that’s what you believe. Isn’t it?

(CLYTEMNESTRA has finished sharpening the knife. She examines it, is satisfied, and hides it in the folds of her robe.)

Well, think what you like. But let me tell you—about her. Who she was. Ten years ago.

Each day, before dawn, she fled
the leaden dullness of sleep.
Why sleep?
Sleep is for the old and the drunk
and the dead.
But if age has not yet
dragged you into lethargy,
if time has not transformed
the joy of movement into torpor,
if you are young enough to know
how short
a day is,
then you run
through the dew
or the fog
or the rain.
You run so you will not miss it,
the first light of dawn
breaching the horizon.

So it was with Iphigenia.
So it was that she ran to her father.
To Agamemnon.

And his heart was full of war.

———————————————————————

More FREE AUDITION MONOLOGUES from GAP …

… this time, for men.

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 began with three monologues for women (see previous posting) from the play Gap, set in the present at a large urban public high school.   I continue with two monologues for men from the same play.  All of the monologues in Gap 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: clashof@gmail.com

 

THAT PARTICULAR BATTLE

(RUBEN is a respected and popular teacher of US History and Government at a large public high school.)

RUBEN

Sixth period I teach AP American Government.  And there’s this blond kid.  Daniel.    Always wears his soccer uniform to class.  Supposedly he doesn’t have time to change before practice, but you can tell he’s showing off, showing off that he’s on Varsity, showing off his knee brace, his physique.  We’ve all seen the type.  Always sits in the back of the room, whispering, laughing.  I figure he hates me, hates my class.  Probably telling jokes about me, when he’s not too busy sizing up the girls.

His interests definitely lie elsewhere than American Government, that’s for sure.

Monday at the end of class, I handed back a test on the Declaration of Independence.  There was an essay question, worth a lot of points, comparingJefferson’s draft with the final version.  Daniel’s essay—pure bull, not a clue.  Didn’t even know that the changes in the Declaration had anything to do with the issue of slavery.  So he got a “D.”  When I handed the exam back to him and he looked at the grade, he went rigid and silent, this kid who’s always joking, always moving.  He stalked out of the room, not making eye contact with anyone.

Then yesterday, he stays after class to talk to me.  I think, well, that’s something. He’s figured out he has to take my class seriously.  He’s actually risking being late for practice, risking the wrath of his coach to talk to me.  He was holding the test paper in his hand, and I could see that he’d crumpled it up and then tried to smooth it out, and he says, “Mr. Gutierrez …” and it sounds like he’s lisping the end of my name, you know, mocking … Suddenly my palms are sweating, my mouth is utterly dry, and I’m back in high school myself.  And it’s not Daniel towering over me, it’s a different tall blond kid, a different boy with muscles and a red face and a swagger … twelve, fourteen years ago.   But it feels like now.  Peter, his name was, the boy who used to call me faggot and beaner. And corner me behind the bleachers.  I have to slow my breathing very deliberately and remind myself that I’m the teacher now, Daniel is my student, and he is not going to beat me to a pulp.

I hope.

I force myself to say—and I think I said it pretty calmly, “Yes, Daniel.  How can I help you?”  And I look at him.  And what I see in his face is not anger, not hatred, it’s fear.  And the odd slur in his speech?  It’s not mockery.  He’s trying to hold back the tears, swallow them down before they well up in his eyes.

As it happens, I’m rather familiar with that particular battle.

I want to pat him on the back and say, “There, there, it’s all right.”  But I just wait for him to speak.  He wasn’t in class when we discussed The Declaration.  He was in the hospital, having knee surgery.  His second surgery.  He says, I gave you the note from the doctor, and it’s true, he did.  But I’d forgotten.  I mean, I deal with 148 students every day.  I ask Daniel why he stays on the soccer team.  Two knee surgeries and he’s only seventeen years old.  He looks at me like I’m crazy to be asking.  It’s his team.  He’s a soccer player.  What else is there to say about it?

So we make a deal.  He can re-take the test.  But he has to sit in the front of the classroom for the rest of the semester and pay attention.  And when he has to leave school early for away games, he’ll email me, and I’ll fill him in on what he’s missed.  I might manage to teach him something about American Government.  We’ll see.

————————————————————————————————

ABOVE AVERAGE

(VICTOR is the father of Will, a fifteen-year-old high school student.)

VICTOR

Victor.  My name is Victor.  And I always used to feel like the name fit me.  Like I was a “Victor.”  Successful career.  Mainstay of my community.  All of that. And then Will started high school.  Last year, his freshman year, he started bringing home B’s and C’s.  He was always a straight-A student, he took geometry in eighth grade—that’s a tenth grade course—so why all of a sudden was he getting a C in math?   And do you know what he said when I asked him about it?  He said, “What’s the big deal?  I’m doing above average for a Black boy.”

It was all I could do—I mean that—all I could do not to throttle him.

I am not by nature an angry person.  I know about anger.  The vets I work with, my clients, they’re all of them angry.  So, yeah, I know about anger.  But I did not know I had it in me to feel so enraged.

He’s failing half his courses.  Will is.  My son.  Failing.  Because he doesn’t go to class.  Apparently.  Where does he go?  He leaves the house on time every morning.  We thought he was going to school.  Until today.  Until his mid-term report card came.  If I find out he’s into drugs …

If he gets himself arrested …

When I look at him, I still see the happy-go-lucky kid who hated to miss a day of school … He’ll be sixteen in May, and then …?

I say my prayers every night.

—————————————————————————

Public performances require my express authorization and may be subject to royalties. Contact me for rights or other information: clashof@gmail.com

 

 GAP is a full-length play designed to be performed by a diverse cast of 5 (3w, 2m) playing a dozen roles in all.  I have also written a one-act play, CLAY, for four teen actors (2f, 2m), drawing on the same material.  CLAY is published by YouthPLAYS.   

Info at http://youthplays.com/plays/view/154/Clay