Monologue from DISCLOSURE

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?

Female/ femme identified actors, I offer the following monologue which speaks to the present moment. It’s from my full-length play DISCLOSURE, originally produced by Those Women Productions at PianoFight in San Francisco with Valerie Weak in the role of MAYA.

Actors are free to use this monologue for auditions; all other rights are reserved. The script is available for production.

Contact the author at: clashof[at]



What did I imagine? Did I think he would grovel, beg for forgiveness?

I don’t know. I imagined how I would feel later, after the great moment, after the triumphant—or maybe the catastrophic, or the cataclysmic, or … the apocalyptic? Certainly, the transformative moment. That’s what I imagined. How I would feel afterwards. After 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?

When I was a child. Ten. Eleven. Twelve.

He said:  Are you sure?

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 a while, I turned around and left.  Because there was nothing else to say.



Something strange happens to Georgia in the middle of Monday morning: “The Metamorphosis,” a monologue


a monologue

by Carol S. Lashof

(GEORGIA appears to be an ordinary fourteen or fifteen-year-old girl.  She is sitting on a chair, talking to someone standing in front of her.  She often looks away from her listener, down at her hands and her body. She is wearing jeans and a loose-fitting jacket with long sleeves that she pulls down over her hands.)


            Hi, how are you?

Me?  I’m not sure.  I feel okay now—but something weird happened to me in school today. Like nothing that’s ever happened to me before …

I don’t know if you can help me.  Um.

(Pause. Fidgets. Then in a rush.)

But maybe I should explain first about the book we’ve been reading in English—it’s this weird story about a guy who turns into some kind of a gross bug thing.  Like a cockroach?  Or, or, a dung beetle.  Which is a bug that eats shi—I mean, crap. But you probably knew that already, huh?  I mean, even if you don’t learn about insects in vet school—or do you?

But, still, you’re probably, like, an expert on all kinds of animals, right?  Not only regular dogs and cats, but other weird creatures.

Oh.  Oh, no.  I’m not here about a pet tarantula or whatever.  And I know I didn’t have an appointment, and I haven’t seen you since last summer—when my cat got cancer and you had to put him to sleep.  And you were so nice.  And probably this is your lunch hour or something, so … what I mean is, thank you.  For making time for me.

Anyway.  I was saying.  We’ve been reading this story about this guy Gregor who turns into a bug.  And the bug he turns into is huge and ugly and definitely not something you’d want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, I wouldn’t, anyway.

Then.  This morning. The teacher pairs everybody up with a partner to make lists of questions to talk about in class discussion.  And I’m hella pumped because I’m paired with this guy Robert who I’ve liked forever.

Now, Robert is something you would want crawling around your bedroom.

Well, if you were a teenage girl, you would.

So I’m trying to sound smart to impress Robert but not like stuck up or anything?  You know what I mean?  And I say, “In the story, when Gregor’s father throws an apple at him—do you think it’s significant that it’s an apple?”  I’m thinking, you know, about the garden of Eden and everything.  And Robert, he for sure sees what I’m getting at because he says, “If you offered me an apple, I would totally bite it.”

And I’m thinking, yeah!  He likes me!  And I’m also thinking, I bet he thinks that’s a pretty smart question.  Because he’s a good student too, like me.  And then he says, “You know what I think?” And I say “What?”

And he says, “I think tight sweaters were invented for girls like you.”


And that kinda stops my train of thought about the insect-guy right there.  Like, dead in its tracks.  I mean, I want to be thinking about good discussion questions—because that’s the kind of student I am. Usually. The kind teachers count on to do the work, even when everybody else is goofing off.  Do you know what I mean?

But what I’m actually thinking is about how good I look in that sweater, and how it’s soft like cats’ fur, so it kinda makes people wanna touch me when I’m wearing it—Hey, is it true that cats are so silky because they eat raw meat? I read that somewhere.

Really?  It is. That’s so gross.  I’m not sure I wanted to know that.

And I was totally not sure I wanted Robert to know I knew how hot I looked in the sweater I was wearing. And I definitely didn’t want him to think I was wearing it because of him, even though, yeah, I guess I was.

And so I’m chasing these thoughts around and around in my head like a cat chasing a mouse, and—


(GEORGIA covers her mouth.)

I’m sorry!

(GEORGIA’S voice is taking on a feline quality in spite of her efforts to speak like a person.)

Ummmm.  Errrr.  Anyhowwlll— Anyhow.  I’m trrrying to think of what’s the rrright thing to say to Rrrroberrt.  Robert.  When ssssuddenly he ssstarrrts sstaring at me really hard.  Sstrraight at the middle of my face.  I think CRAP!  I must have some humongous zit on my nose or something.  The way he’s looking at me.  Horrified.         Meowr!

(GEORGIA makes a terrific effort to control her voice.)

So I reach up automatically to cover my face, to hide what I think must be the grossest, ugliest, hugest zit ever, and I feel … whiskers.  Long stiff cat whiskers.  And I’m thinking—what if this isn’t going to stop with whiskers?  What if I’m turrrning into a for rrrreeall cat, with furrr and claws and a tail and everrrrrything, rright in the middle of the classrrrroom—meow—in the middle of Monday—meow—morning?

(Regaining control)

And I couldn’t stay in the classroom turning into a cat, could I? So I grabbed my jacket off the back of my chair and pulled it on and ran out of the room.

And then I stood in the hallway, just breathing for a minute, and pretty soon, I started to feel a little bit better, a little bit more like myself, you know?  But still pretty weird.  So I thought about going to see the school nurse, but I didn’t think she’d know how to deal, you know?  And then I thought of you.

So can you help me?

Help me … be me, I guess.




Lately, I’ve been preoccupied with questions of work/life balance and particularly with the shape of women’s careers. For serious reflections on this topic, see my previous post:
For a comic treatment of the challenges facing an emerging artist, read the ten-minute play posted below. GAIL & PETER puts a contemporary, gender-bending spin on the Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion who falls in love with his statue, Galatea. (This myth was the inspiration for Shaw’s play Pygmalion, which, in turn, was the source of My Fair Lady.)
GAIL & PETER premiered at TAPAS 2012 at Pegasus Theater in Rio Nido, California.


GAIL’s studio. A winter afternoon. Grey light. GAIL is putting the finishing touches on her sculpture of a handsome tennis player. He stands on a pedestal in the middle of a drop cloth, positioned as if to make a serve. Next to the sculpture is a stepladder. GAIL kneels at the statue’s feet, gently sanding his ankles and legs while talking on a cell phone. Gradually, she works her way up his body, polishing, gently brushing away stone dust, climbing up on the step ladder when it becomes necessary. She is wearing an artist’s smock over sweater and jeans.


Ohmygawd, he’s so beautiful. And he’s mine! Okay, not mine exactly. Strictly speaking, he belongs to the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club. … Yeah, today—the movers are coming at four. … Do you know how many months I’ve been living on ramen, trying to finish this commission on time? And I haven’t even been on a date in—I don’t know—so long I can’t remember how long… But it’s all gonna be worth it—the offers are gonna start rolling in now, as soon as they see this guy… Hey, whaddaya think I should call him? …


Yeah, right, Rumpelstiltskin is sooo romantic. … No, nix on Pinocchio too. I’m serious. He needs a name, a for real name. Something befitting his incomparable beauty and all the fame and glory he is going to bring me.

(By now, GAIL is standing on the step ladder, working on the statue’s left shoulder and arm.)

How about Peter? What do you think of “Peter”? You know, like Pierre, stone. … Well, to me it’s beautiful. Stone is beautiful. Especially when I’m carving it.

(She gazes at him lovingly.)

Hey, Peter. I love you, Peter.

(GAIL touches the fingers of PETER’s left hand very gently with the fingers of her right. The gesture suggests God touching the hand of Adam. PETER shudders; GAIL draws back, nearly falling off the ladder.)

Uh. I’ll call you back.

(GAIL steps down from the ladder. PETER steps down from the pedestal. Tentatively, GAIL reaches out to take PETER’s hands. He grasps her hands firmly in his and pulls her to him. He kisses her hard and long. After an extended embrace, they separate. GAIL takes a couple of steps backwards.)


Uh. Wow.


(More a statement of self-realization than an introduction.)

I’m Peter.


Yes. Um. Hello. I’m Gail.




How… ?


You said my name. Peter. You touched me.


Yeah, but…?


Before that, there was nothing. Only darkness and silence.


And I… I brought you out of the darkness?





Pause. They look at each other. He kisses her again.


No one has ever kissed me like that before—like I was the only thing in the world that mattered to them. Do you know what I mean?

(PETER shakes his head.)

With every other guy I’ve been with, it was like he had something else on his mind. Not me. Sex with me, maybe. But not simply me.

(Pause. Hastily.)

Not that I’ve been with so many guys—it’s not like I’m, well, you know… No, you don’t know, do you? You didn’t exist up until now.


Up until now, there was nothing. And then…


And then…?


And then there was now. There was you.


There is you.


Never in the world has there ever been anyone like you, Peter.


I like it when you say my name.


Peter. Peter. Peter.

They stand still, holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. A sudden wind blows open the door of the studio, startling them; they separate. PETER shivers and rubs his bare arms. GAIL hastens to the door and looks out. Seeing nothing, she closes it and returns to PETER.


Oh, dear. You must be freezing.

(GAIL feels the thin material of Peter’s t-shirt and shorts.)


You need something warmer. I didn’t think to… Well, of course, I didn’t know that you… I mean, it’s always warm at the Pool and Tennis Club…

(GAIL wraps her arms around PETER, trying to warm him up. They huddle together, briefly, then suddenly, struck by a realization, she pulls away.)

Oh, dear, the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club… What the hell are we going to do?

Pause. GAIL looks at PETER. He shrugs.


We could kiss some more?


No, I mean… I mean, yes we could do that, kiss, that would be nice, but I meant, about the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club? What am I going to do?

(PETER looks at GAIL without comprehension. He shrugs, moves to kiss her. She pulls back.)

Oh, you don’t understand, do you? How could you? Um, see… How can I explain this? You don’t belong to me… I wish you belonged to me.


I belong to me? To Peter?


No. You belong to the Pool and Tennis Club. They commissioned you. Uh, I signed a contract. I made a commitment, a promise… The art movers are coming this afternoon. Soon. To pick you up.


And you?


No. Not me. Only you.


I don’t want to go anywhere without you.


Oh, Peter… I don’t want you to go anywhere either. But what can I do? They paid a fee, an advance… It’s a legal contract. I have to deliver a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club. And if I don’t deliver a statue, then I don’t get paid, and if I don’t get paid, then I can’t pay my rent, my horribly, horribly overdue rent, and I can’t buy


groceries, and… oh, I’d have to pay back the advance too… I’d be worse than broke, Peter. I’d be out on the street.

(PETER stares at GAIL with utter incomprehension. She points out the window.)

Out there. In the cold.

He walks to the window and looks out. She joins him.


What’s out there?


The city. Buildings. Streets, cars, people.


I could go out there.


You don’t want to go out there.


It looks noisy out there. And bright.


You like noise?


And light. Yes.


It will be dark soon. The temperature is supposed to drop below zero tonight.

(Pause. PETER looks at GAIL.)


(Pause. PETER continues to look at GAIL.)

That means it will be cold. Very cold.


Cold is not good.


No. Cold is not good. Warm is good. A warm place to live, and to work. Those are good.


The Pool and Tennis Club is warm. You said.


Absolutely! You would be nice and warm and cozy there.


You too? You could be nice and warm there too. And cozy!


Well. No. I couldn’t. Actually. Because I don’t belong to the Pool and Tennis Club. I could visit you, I guess, but I couldn’t stay there with you.


Will you be cold?


Not if I pay my rent and the heating bill. And if you go to the Pool and Tennis Club, like you’re supposed to, then I’ll be able to pay my rent. And the utilities.

Pause. PETER considers.



PETER sits down cross-legged on the floor. He looks comfortable and content, prepared to wait for the movers to arrive.


You’ll go with the movers when they come?




Can we kiss?




(Nodding yes.)

And later? When you visit me.


Later, um… later, I don’t know. See, the Pool and Tennis Club didn’t commission a person to come and stand in their atrium. They commissioned a statue. That’s what they’re expecting. It’s what they bought.


But I’m not a statue. Not any more.


Yeah, and that’s a problem. A way huge problem.




Because, if I don’t deliver on this commission, I am totally screwed.

(Pause. Pleading.)

There must be some way to undo—whatever I did. Some way to turn you back into a statue again.


I don’t want to be a statue again. I like being Peter.


I like you being Peter too, but…You wouldn’t really know the difference, would you?


I don’t like it. The darkness. The silence. No kisses.


Oh, Peter. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. But I don’t know what else to do. It’s not just the money. I mean, I’d probably figure something out… I could move in with friends, I guess, or… my parents, if worse came to worst. But I’d be finished as an artist.

(She is silent for a moment as she contemplates the truth of this statement.)

No one would ever give me another commission. No one would ever take me seriously as an artist again. Do you know how much I’ve sacrificed to get this far?


I won’t go back!


But, Peter… Listen… I owe a statue to the Pool and Tennis Club.


Give them another statue. Not me.


I don’t have another statue to give them.


I’m Peter. I belong to Peter.


And you think that’s enough? You think you can live by simply being Peter?

(Pause. PETER shrugs.)

You don’t have a social security card or a green card or an address or a phone. Or a government-issued photo id, for chrissake. You don’t have a bank account, an ATM card, a credit card … I know these things don’t mean anything to you right now, but believe me, you can’t live without them. Not here. You don’t even have a last name!


I’ll figure something out.

GAIL approaches PETER coaxingly, holding her hand out. For every step she takes towards him, he takes two steps back.


Like what? You don’t have parents to move back in with, or friends.


Only me.


Peter. Listen to me, you’ve got to try to be a statue again.

(Pause. By now, PETER has backed himself up to the door. He stands leaning against it.)

Maybe if you step back up on the pedestal and think quiet thoughts, maybe that would work. We could try it… Please…

(GAIL takes PETER by the hand to lead him back to the pedestal. He pulls away from her and runs out the door, slamming it behind him.)




(GAIL stands in the middle of the room, looking around her, at a loss. After a few desperate moments, she sees the door open again. PETER enters. He is wet and cold.)


Oh, Peter, you poor thing!

(GAIL takes off her smock as she tentatively approaches PETER. She rubs him dry with her smock, cooing over him. He is shivering too hard to speak.)

You poor dear, it’s sleeting out there. It’s the worst weather ever invented. Half-rain. Half-snow. Come on, I’ll warm you up.

(GAIL takes off her sweater—she is wearing only an undershirt or camisole underneath and shivers a little herself. She does her inadequate best to wrap the sweater around PETER. Then, with an arm around his waist, she leads him back to the pedestal.)

In the atrium of the Beaumont Pool and Tennis Club, it’s always warm.


No sleeting?


No sleeting. No wind blowing, no rain, no hail, no snow. I promise. And it’s bright, and noisy. Lots of people coming and going all day long. And they will all stop to admire you.

(PETER allows GAIL to guide him back up onto the pedestal. She climbs up on the step ladder in order to position him as he was at the opening of the play. Her sweater falls off his shoulders. She leans down to give him a brief kiss.)

Goodbye, Peter.

PETER freezes into position as a statue just as the doorbell rings. Presumably, it is the movers. GAIL glances at her watch, climbs down from the ladder, and walks to the door.


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.)

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.)

(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 …
Wait for it … Wait for the rhyme …
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.


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:


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.

(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.


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.



… 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:



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


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.



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


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:


 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

Free Audition Monologues for Women

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: <>


                                                    (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.

Well, duh.

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.

Wanna ruck?



                                                   (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.