Summer events: from felines to Furies

From felines to Furies, from the flatlands of Berkeley to the heights of Mount Olympus and the Adirondacks,  I’ve got a lot going on this summer theatrically speaking.  It’s all fun and affordable, so come out and enjoy!  I’ll try to be brief.  Follow the links for more information.  Thanks!
  • What I’m writing now:  two short plays for the fourth annual San Francisco Olympians Festival, collectively titled “Who’s Your Daddy?” or “When Briseis Met Chryseis.”  Twenty-nine other Bay Area playwrights are also in the process of writing their plays for this year’s festival on the theme of the Trojan War, and we are in the midst of waging a fundraising campaign to pay the rent on the theatre and a modest (well, tiny) stipend to the 100+ artists involved.  It’s a really, really good cause and we have less than two weeks to meet our goal, so please contribute what you can: $1, $5, $50 … it all helps. Thank you! Donate here: [The festival itself will take place in San Francisco November 6-23.  Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.]
  • The cats are back!  If you missed Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies in April because EVERY SHOW WAS SOLD OUT, now is your (last) chance to enjoy this hilarious evening of monologues and solo performances on the theme of … yes, Cat Ladies. My contribution to the evening is a monologue called “The Metamorphosis” about a strange thing that happens to a teenage girl in the middle of her English class one Monday morning.  Two encore performances on June 10 & 11 in Central Berkeley.    Tickets here:
  • I will be participating in a 36-Hour Play Festival at the Live Oak Theatre in North Berkeley on Monday, June 24 to raise money for a women’s Safe House in San Francisco.  I can’t tell you what I’ll be writing about because I don’t know yet.  Here’s how it works:  on Sunday morning, the playwrights, six of us, meet our actors and director and are assigned a topic; we have until Sunday at 9 pm to write a 10-minute play; the plays are rehearsed on Monday during the day, and then on Monday night, they are performed.  It’s kind of like reality TV–but better. Tickets here:
  • My newest full-length play, Just Deserts, a comedy about getting what you deserve–or not, runs from July 11 to September 1 at Forever Wild Theatre in upstate New York.  Performances will take place Thursdays-Sundays at Lake George Battlefield Park in the Adirondack mountains. Information (and pretty pictures of the mountains) here:
To summarize:
NOW until June 7: You can do it from anywhere: Support the San Francisco Olympians Festival IV: Trojan Requiem indiegogo campaign:
June 10-11, Berkeley: Women in Solodarity: Cat Ladies:

June 24, Berkeley: UWAC’s “Empowering Women,” a 36-Hour Play Festival (benefit for San Francisco Safe House)
July 11-September 1, Lake George, New York, Just Deserts at Forever Wild Theatre Collective



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.