Category Archives: Monologues

STACI SWEDEEN IN THE MONOLOGUE BLOG: ‘PARDON ME FOR LIVING’ AT PENGUIN REP (SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12 at 4PM AND 8PM, STONY POINT, NY—INFO BELOW!) ·

Stacipic 

(What follows is the opening section of “Pardon Me For Living” – a harrowing, alternately horrifying and comic account of what happened when playwright and actor Staci Swedeen was attacked by a rabid raccoon in May 2003. Ms Swedeen will be performing the show in its entirety at Penguin Repertory Theatre on September 12 at 4 PM and 8 PM.  For more information:

www.Penguinrep.org

Box Office: 845-786-2873)

 

 

The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him. At that point, he’s in business.                John Berryman

 

PARDON ME FOR LIVING

It’s May and it’s a beautiful day in Sleepy Hollow, the small village where I live on the Hudson River. The sun is out and I really want to take full advantage of all this streaming Vitamin C or D – which one is it? I can never keep my vitamins straight – much less remember to take them – but I know there is some kind of vitamin in sunshine that’s supposed to be good for you and damn it, I want mine.

 

I also want a comfortable outdoor chair – and I don’t have one that would let me take full advantage of Mother Nature’s benediction.

 

But wait…I have a coupon to Bed Bath and Beyond –which I also call “The great Cathedral of America” since all of suburbia can be found worshiping at the altar of linens, towels, and martini glasses.

 

So I get in my shiny green Subaru and drive over to Elmsford.  I wander the aisles and look at pink candles, pastel soaps pressed into the shapes of clams and tropical fish, small pans suitable for frying one egg.  I look at shelves of 400 count sheets, large tubs of chocolates and gummy bears – but that’s not what I want, I want a comfy chair to put on the patch of grass outside of my house.

 

I find the perfect one – white and greens stripes, and it folds so I can put it in my back seat and now –

 

I’m headed home and the sun! Oh, it feels glorious.  I glance down and admire the polish on my toe nails.  The shade is called Vintage Wine and that has me thinking – is it too early for a glass of wine?  It’s after twelve and a nice chardonnay would be just the thing with my sun streamed shot of vitamins. 

 

I keep driving – and in about ten minutes I’m home from Beyond the Bed Bath. I park on the street where I always park. I get out of the driver’s side of the car, open up the back door to get my lawn chair out when something bites me.

 

 I think.

 

I think something bites me but I don’t see anything – but now, yes, there is definitely something biting me, biting my left ankle and this is so weird, I’m just standing right next to the side of my Subaru and nothing was around when  I pulled up so what could it be?

 

I leave my new chair lying on the back seat, I bend down to look under the car – since that’s where– and I poke my nose to see what’s underneath there.

 

And here is where my mind does this funny thing, and it’s connected with my mother in law who recently died and left behind this rather ugly, frumpy gray old cat named Abigail who smelled and drooled and exhibited all the signs of major depression you’d expect from someone living with a woman who was drinking heavily as she slipped into dementia. 

 

So after my mother-in-law died in February, my husband and I had taken Abigail in, because who was going to adopt an old cat like this?  And once furry, frumpy Abigail had her dental hygiene attended to and the dreadlocks cut out of her fur, she was actually a pretty nice cat – I was growing quite fond of her.

 

So when I peer under the car, I’m surprised to see Abigail nipping my ankle.  How did she get out of the house? What is the matter with her?  Why do some cats do that nipping thing, anyway?  I thought she liked me now. But as my eyes focus and my mind clears, I see that this is clearly not Abigail – this is –

 - this  is –

 

I pull my leg away from the car. Attached to my left ankle is a gray, ravaged looking raccoon who must weigh about ten or fifteen pounds.  It is snarling at me, an angry throaty growl.  Its arms – legs – paws – are wrapped around my ankle.  Its teeth – jaws- fangs – are buried in my flesh.  I try to comprehend what I’m looking at as blood drips down my foot.

 

There are moments that stop time.

 

When I was about six years old – before my parents were divorced, before time altered forever – I was playing in the front yard and walking across this thin cement wall that dropped off to the place where my parents parked their car below.

 

I was pretending to be an acrobat – a tightrope walker.  As I carefully put one front in front of the other, I called out   –

 

Hey Mom!  Watch me!  Dad, look at me! Over here!  (Falling, attempting to stop)

 

And I lost my balance and fell through space, through time, through the hole in the universe – coming out at the other end to the sounds of people screaming –

 

 -and that is the same hole that I fell through today –

 

 - the sound of screaming, only this time, this time- who IS that screaming?  It takes me a minute to realize that it is me – because the scream is high pitched, a horrified howl, the kind of scream that will be squeezed out of you when you see an animal with its teeth sunk deep in your flesh on a bright, sunny May day, the kind of scream that would make all the hackles stand up on the neck of a small animal if that animal were not already electrified.  I’m trying to shake the raccoon off of my leg, but he- she – IT – is hanging on with a fury.

 

(c) 2009 by Staci Swedeen.  Reprinted by permission of the author.  Please direct inquiries to Elaine Devlin Literary Agency, c/o Plus Entertainment, 20 West 23 Street, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10010, or to the author staciswede@aol.com or staciswedeen.com.

 

 

(STACI SWEDEEN is featured in One on One: the Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century and One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century (both published by Applause Books.) Staci is also the recipient of the 2004 Arts and Letters Award in Drama, A New York State Council for the Arts New Play recipient, a Lark Theatre and Dramatist Guild Fellow alum. Her play The Goldman Project premiered Off Broadway in the fall of 2007.  Other plays have been performed across the country, published in numerous anthologies and presented in many festivals.  http://staciswedeen.com/.)

 

Visit Stage Voices blog: http://stagevoices.typepad.com/

 

 

MONOLOGUE BLOG: ROBIN GOLDFIN’S ‘THE NATURALIST’ ·

THE NATURALIST: a five minute play

 by Robin Goldfin

 

Time: just yesterday.

Place: North of England, an auditorium.  There is a standing microphone on stage.  The ACTOR enters and speaks into it.

 

 

I was sitting in the doctor’s office.  In London.  My foot hurt.  I remember thinking: something always hurts.  I feel like such a strange bird.  I picked up a magazine.  It was a Nature magazine.  In it, I found another strange bird.

 

I have learned that most of my writing starts as a complaint.  My attempt is to transform it into something….It begins with—

 

(He puts on a pair of glasses, becomes The Naturalist.  Strong North of England accent.)

 

Access—to the attic—was via trap door—in the ceiling.   By precarious means—I realize now how soon I might have departed this life—I entered the loft and recorded egg laying, hatching and fledging.  For my tree, I chose the flowering cherry in the garden, recording bud changes, first leaves, first flowers, first fruits and their development.  My school was Highly Commended, two medals were awarded, one to me.

 

So began my love affair with Nature.  It is impossible to estimate here the influence of these early events on my development…as today I stand before you not to accept yet another award, but to pass on the legacy…of love.  I know we are all waiting impatiently to hear from this year’s winner who has so diligently devoted him/her self to observing these creatures in their native surroundings.  So!  Without further ado: The Tree Warden Society of The Home Parish Council of Wombourne, South Staffordshire hereby presents a FIRST for Animal In Its Natural Habitat Appreciation to–

 

Scout Ernesto Hermon (my strange bird) and his outstanding work, “Defenestration and the Little Finches.”

 

Scout Ernesto, do come up and tell us—how does it feel to come first?

 

(The Actor takes two steps forward, pivots, takes off the glasses and stashes them in a pocket to return as 12 year old Ernesto.  Shy?  Mortified.  He stands frozen at the mic.  Speaks to his Scoutmaster.)

 

I don’t know what to—.  There are so many people—(a whisper) Ok.

I want to thank me Ma, me Da, the…Good Lord!  Don’t move, don’t breathe!

 

(He gropes in his pocket for telescope and slowly extends it—the sexual metaphor should not be lost—he can barely contain his excitement.  Scanning the audience.)

 

There!  A snag-toothed warbling frustration!  And there—a belly-throated regret! Wait, it couldn’t be—it is!  A red-breasted lust!  And right next to her—the sleek-throated shame!  Oh, what a pair… this is my…Ah!…..The full breasted loneliness is feeding her babies!  Oh!  The flat-footed failure has laid another egg!…..(Gasp!)—I don’t believe—so rarely seen in these parts: The dark hued blue-crested sadness.  (Whistles)  Look at that wing span…

 

            (He watches as the bird flies off.  Lights fade.  End of play.)

 

 

 

 

© 2009 by Robin Goldfin

 

(Robin Goldfin’s work is included in One on One:  The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.)

 

 

DAVID HARE: WALL–A MONOLOGUE ·

(Wall appeared in The New York Review of Books 4/30. Berlin/Wall opens, starring David Hare, at the Public Theater 5/14/09 for five performances only.)  

Wall: A Monologue

By David Hare

All right. Let's be serious, let's think about this.

Please, please: consider the state of affairs, consider the desperation, consider the depth of the despair. A country has reached a point at which 84 percent of its people are in favor of building a wall along its borders.

Have you ever known anything of which 84 percent of people were in favor? And yet there it is, over four fifths of a nation—can you imagine that figure?—saying something completely bizarre. The Berlin Wall was built to keep people in. This one, they say, is being built to keep people out.

You might call this an extraordinary state of affairs. Hardly a normal state of affairs. And that's the word you hear all the time in the Middle East. "Normal." The Palestinians ask, "When will we have a normal life?" And so do the Israelis. Indeed, the Israeli state was founded in 1948 with the principal ambition of being normal, of being a normal place like any other. The Palestinians call the foundation of the Israeli state the nakbeh: the disaster. And now sixty years later Israel believes itself, in the frequently expressed view of the majority, in need of a wall.

Except, of course, they don't call it a wall. They call it a fence.

It's one of those things, there seem to be so many, don't there?—I'm thinking of abortion, or armed revolt—where the words you use—pro-life/pro-choice, terrorist/freedom fighter—tell the world which way you think. Words become flags, they announce which side you're on. In this case, literally. The Israelis call it the gader ha'harfrada, which in Hebrew means "separation fence." The Palestinians don't call it that. Not at all. They call it jidar al-fasl al-'unsuri, which in Arabic means "racial segregation wall."

OK, let's go coolly into this, shall we? If I use one word or the other, forgive me, it does not imply I am partisan. I have acquaintances on both sides of the fence and on both sides of the wall. "I hate the wall," say my Israeli friends. "I regret it." "I'm ashamed of the wall." "I drive for miles so that I don't have to see it. But it works. 80 percent of terrorist attacks against Israel have stopped. Have been stopped. Am I not meant to be pleased about that?"

Very well. I shall seek to describe the history of the wall.

On June 1, 2001, nine months into the second intifada, a Palestinian suicide bomber named Saeed Hotari crossed into Israel from the West Bank, and exploded himself at the entrance to the Dolphinarium discotheque on the beach in Tel Aviv, killing twenty-one civilians, most of them high school students. A further 132 people were injured. In response to the massacre, a grassroots movement grew up all over Israel calling itself Fence for Life. They argued, as Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had argued ten years earlier, that the only way of protecting the country from infiltration by terrorists was by sealing itself off from the Palestinian territories, by removing the points of friction between the two communities. But separation would not be a purely military tactic. No, before he was murdered by a fellow Israeli, Rabin had been arguing something much more radical. "We have to decide on separation as a philosophy."

There it is. Not just a wall. A wall would be a fact. But this wall is a philosophy, what one observer has called "a political code for shutting up shop."

Construction began in 2002. The original plan was that the fence should stretch a full 486 miles, the entire length of Israel's eastern border. The current estimate for its completion is some-time around the end of 2010. Varying in width between 30 and 150 meters, this $2 billion combination of trenches, electronic fences, ditches, watchtowers, concrete slabs, checkpoints, patrol roads, and razor coil is priced at around $2 million per kilometer. Some seventy-five acres of greenhouses and twenty-three miles of irrigation pipes have already been destroyed on the Palestinian side. More than 3,700 acres of Palestinian land have been confiscated, some of it so that the wall may run yards away from Palestinian hamlets and villages. Already, 102,000 trees have been cut down to clear its path.

It is, says an Israeli friend, an acknowledgment of failure. "History has not followed the course we might have wished." Another way of putting it, later the same evening, after a few drinks in one of the big beachside hotels that are beginning to make the Bauhaus quarter of Tel Aviv look like Florida: "You do have to ask yourself: I'm not sure Ben-Gurion would be thrilled."

From the start the exact route has been controversial. The most obvious path for it to have followed would have been along the international border, established in 1949 between Israel and Jordan, and known to all parties as the Green Line. But in fact, 85 percent of its intended route is inside the West Bank. The fence snakes and coils, departing eastward from the Green Line in places by just two hundred meters, but in other places by as much as twenty-two kilometers where it goes inland to collect up and protect Israeli settlements established far inside the occupied territory. Sometimes it takes in fertile Palestinian agricultural land and water wells, leaving Palestinian farmers without access to their own fields. Some 140,200 Israeli settlers will be living between the fence and the Green Line. 93,000 Palestinians will be caught on the wrong side of the wall.

For that reason the fence is seen by its opponents not as what it claims to be—a security measure—but more as a land grab, the delineation of a de facto claim, an attempt, like the steady expansion of the Israeli-controlled parts of Jerusalem, to do what is known as "change the facts on the ground." At the outset of the campaign, supporters of Fence for Life insisted that the wall should be a barrier, not a border. It was not to be used as a bargaining tactic in any future negotiation for a final status agreement. But even Israelis have found this intention hard to credit. Before he left office, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted that had he survived in the job he would have sought to set Israeli permanent borders by 2010—and that the border "would run along or close to the barrier."

Even the most ardent supporters of the fence admit that it is, like the blockade of Gaza, a source of huge inconvenience to Palestinians. But they argue, in the words of one defender, that "the deaths of Israelis caused by terror are permanent and irreversible, whereas the hardships faced by the Palestinians are temporary and reversible." The International Court of Justice in The Hague had a different view. On July 9, 2004, it ruled 14–1 that

the construction of a wall being built by Israel, the occupying power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory…[is] contrary to international law. Israel is under an obligation…to cease forthwith the works of construction,…to dismantle forthwith the structures therein situated,…to make reparation for all the damage caused by the construction of the wall….

Professor Sari Nusseibeh of Al-Quds University puts it most pithily:

It's like sticking someone in a cage and then when he starts screaming, as any normal person would, using his violent temper as justification for putting him in the cage in the first place. The wall is the perfect crime because it creates the violence it was ostensibly built to prevent . . .

(Read more)

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/22611

David Hare on director Stephen Daldry (interview on You Tube):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGPSNa7WKt0

For tickets:

http://www.publictheater.org/component/option,com_shows/task,view/Itemid,141/id,965

(An excerpt from David Hare's work appears in Duo!: The Best Plays for Two for the 21st Century due out from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books in August.

MONOLOGUE BLOG ·

Monologues are posted as a recurring feature on Stage Voices. 

 

End Zone by Bob Shuman

While HE mixes drinks and unwraps takeout food, ARTHUR TRAINER–a freelance composer and percussionist (late 30s)–talks to his father (late 70s). THEY haven’t seen each other in seven years.

Time: Several years ago, in November.

Place: A motel. It’s about a mile down the road from a prep school in the Northeast.  Two adjoining rooms have been rented.

ARTHUR:  You go ahead and eat if you can’t wait. I thought you’d like Old Fitzgerald and lemon, Dad, like sitting out in your garden. You and Norm during the summer, building, digging–boxwood: a Jeffersonian ideal. Seven years old. Running away.  You remember me?  Down by the lake to the power house–(About his drink.)  Should make this a little stronger. The man who painted in the boiler room. Always in the dark, waiting for his pictures to dry.  Dwight. Painting without models; used dirty magazines instead.  (Pause.)

Carting sand and bricks in the wheelbarrow. Ivy, mountain laurel, replica Greek statuary, the Brussels “Statue of Piss!” (Pause.  Continuing to make drink.) I don’t care what anybody thinks of me, Dad—mi’aswell teach like you wanted. Been fired four times, I keep telling people the truth! (About the drink.)  What’s the matter? This is your favorite. Old Fitzgerald and lemonade. (Pause.)

I’m supposed to watch you two from the magnolia tree. Rhododendron being planted. Pretend I’m sweeping leaves. “Don’t come over here, stay over there, get out of the way!” No more power-house trips, no more rafting, no more hikes across the bridge. Drifting farther off on the hot grass, and . . . walk right into town, just like that, past bullies and vagrants, Mr. Jackson delivering groceries, end up petting the Dalmatian in the firehouse.  (About the drink.)  This is too sweet, they don’t make that kind of lemonade, looked all over for it. Shoulda gotten mint.  (Pause.)

  I was so afraid you were going to die, Dad.  I don’t know why.  There wasn’t anything wrong with you, I just found out people . . . die. Mom in India studying the Taj Mahal. Norm says when that number comes up you’re on your own. 

Out to the overpass to break bottles. Balancing on planks at the lumber yard. We were playing hide and seek, Dad.  Flatten coins on the tracks, pumping my arm up and down for the conductors to blow the whistle. Over to the woods where that boy and girl from the high school committed suicide . . . Rumors among the faculty, Dwight molested a kid. (Pause.)

(In his father’s voice.) “Don’t know what’s the matter with you, become a nuisance!” You grab my hand tight. Sometimes picking me up, walking so fast, “get you home.”  Past cookouts and 4-H clubs, ghosts in the graveyard.  Back to the construction of my maximum security pen–destined to become the place where I’d be dumped after school while teams made championships and Mother’s Anthropology clubs won prizes. To think that your continually growing creation of intricately designed brickwork with window boxes, slate landings, mini-turrets, a sundial, and birdbath–even an ice-skating area, as well as white picket fencing—should have been built to rein in one lousy pain-in-the ass kid! (Pause.) It really wasn’t though, was it? It wasn’t for Mom—and it wasn’t even for sitting outside and having bourbon and lemonade. It was something during a summer; demonstrating the deep bonding between a father and son: you and Norm. (Pause.) Come on, let’s get you set up! One drink isn’t going to hurt you.  This is a celebration. Clayt offered me a job, back here for the spring. They think I know something about music even. (Silence.)

            I want to visit Dwight. Purples, dark canvases, umbers. My days are numbered, the new yard almost complete . . . (Pause.) I know the route where I won’t get caught–find a feather, blow a dandelion’s top off.  Past the Quonset huts, across the campus gravel walks. (About the drink (Suddenly, loud.) “HEY! YOU GET OUT OF THERE!” (As if seeing him:) Norm.  Both of us stop.  (Pause.) He knows where I’m headed. Chasing me, blood pulsing through my neck.  “DOWN BY THE LAKE!” Running me down, shoving me, on top. Pulling, won’t let me go, I’m falling, pushing me. It’s you! Heard him. Hold my hand, dragging me, find rope, I’m biting. Against the magnolia, “Put him up there.” Norm telling me to “eat that bark.”

 

            No wonder somebody called the cops! Tying, pulling it tighter! No wonder they called! “Won’t run away again!” Vomit across the sidewalk.  I can’t breathe . . .  like now!  I’m glad somebody called . . . I’m glad they saw it. (Pause.)  I wanted you to die.  

(ARTHUR throws the glass, shattering it.)

 

(Reprinted from One on One: The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century.  All rights reserved.)

 

MONOLOGUE BLOG: LISA SOLAND’S ‘THE KIND THAT DOESN’T BUDGE’ ·

What follows is one of two monologues from Lisa Soland’s hit play Truth Be Told.  The other, “Freewheelin' with Bob Dylan," can be found at her Web site: http://lisasoland.com/Monologue-Freewheelin.htm.

 

THE KIND THAT DOESN’T BUDGE

 

Lisa Soland

 

Dramatic

 

Man (late 20’s to 40’s)

 

MAN is sensitive and usually private.  His friend has just asked him if he’s afraid of commitment and has suggested that maybe this is why he is still unmarried.  MAN’S honest and heartfelt response surprises even his friend.

 

MAN

No, No.  It’s not the commitment thing.  Come on, man.  You know me.  I’m committed in a lot of areas of my life.  It’s not that.  It’s just well…

(Hesitant)

When I was in second grade I had this teacher – Mrs. Moore.  I didn’t have a crush on her or anything.  It wasn’t like that.  She was just…amazing.

(Beat)

She was plain but smart.  Man, she never forgot a thing.  And we all wanted to please her for some reason.  Just make her happy somehow.

(Beat)

She had this long, black hair.  Beautiful, shiny, sort of bluish, you know? — when the light hit it just right.  And she always wore it up, in a tight bun.  Always.  Every day.  This perfect, round bun, neatly gathered above her neck.

(Beat)

Mrs. Moore had a son, Danny, and he was in the second grade too but he couldn’t be in her class with me, because he was her son, so he was in the other second grade.  He was my buddy and we would go to each other’s houses a lot, you know – hang out.  Play, I guess.

(Beat)
One time I was over there and we were getting ready for bed, brushing our teeth and I walk down the hall to the bathroom and pass by his mother’s room.  The door was open.  It was just a quick look, you know – a glance, but I saw her sitting at this table with a mirror in front of her and she had her hair, her beautiful hair down, brushing it with one of those, you know, those old fashioned brushes with the ivory handles.  She was wearing a robe, a blue robe and her hair fell all the way down to her waist.

(Thinking back)

Brushing.  Just brushing.

(Pause)

I was speechless.  Couldn’t talk for days.  For days.  My mom took me to the doctor.  They thought something was wrong with me.

(Shakes his head)

For days.

(Beat)

Well, a couple of months ago I went back for my high school reunion and got together with Danny.  Hadn’t seen him since…graduation.  He couldn’t go to the reunion.  He was back living with his mother in that same house.  His Dad had passed away a while ago and his mom, my second grade teacher had Alzheimer’s.  Has Alzheimer’s.  Danny has to keep the doors locked and stuff cause she forgets where she is and runs out, all the time.  Just runs out.  I noticed all the padlocks are up high, out of reach.  And he’s got to make sure they’re always locked.

(Beat)

She didn’t remember me. I guess something inside of me hoped she would.  But she didn’t.  And her long, black hair was still long but gray — kinky, worn, and pulled into some sort of tangled mess in the back.  It looked like it hadn’t been brushed in weeks.  But still long.  I sat there at the kitchen table and watched them; the two of them fight down her lunch.  She wouldn’t eat.  Danny had fixed her a sandwich — two slices of plain bread with a chunk of cheese in the middle and he tried to…force her, really.  He tried to force her to eat it.  But she sat there and kept spitting it back up.  She’d push it out with her tongue and say things that didn’t make any sense.  It was pretty tough to watch, me, an outsider, but Danny sat there.  He sat there getting food spit all over him and he didn’t budge.  He didn’t budge.

(Beat)

It’s not that I want a woman like that, with long hair or anything.  I just remember that kind of…commitment.  That kind of love.  The kind that doesn’t budge.  That’s what I want.  That’s what I’m waiting for.

 

(BLACKOUT)

 

 

“The Kind That Doesn’t Budge” from Truth Be Told by Lisa Soland © 2008.  All rights reserved. Contact the author at: Lisa Soland, P.O. Box 33081, Granada Hills, CA 91394; Lisasoland@aol.com; Visit her Web site: http://lisasoland.com/index.htm.

 

(Lisa Soland’s work is included in One on One:  The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century, One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century, and the forthcoming DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century—all from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.) 

 

MONOLOGUE BLOG: CAROL LASHOF’S GAP, A PLAY ABOUT THE PERILS OF “DOING SCHOOL” ·

What follows is the final monologue from Carol Lashof’s play Gap.

 

Pomp and Circumstance plays in the background.  As the music fades out, SHERYL, a middle-aged woman, begins speaking to the audience.

 

SHERYL:

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.

 

 

But.

 

 

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 to Brown University on 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.

————–

 

 

(Carol Lashof’s work is included in One on One:  The Best Men’s Monologues for the 21st Century and the forthcoming DUO!:  The Best Scenes for Two for the 21st Century—both from Applause Theatre & Cinema Books.)

 

© All Rights Reserved 2008

For further inquiries contact:

Carol S. Lashof

1807 Grant St.

Berkeley, CA 94703

(510) 486-0863

clashof@gmail.com

http://www.dramatistsguildweb.com/members/clashof/

MONOLOGUE BLOG ·

Monologues are posted as a recurring feature on Stage Voices. 

 

SOUL HEALING by Bob Shuman 

 

Reverend Elizabeth, a Spiritualist minister, is in her late 30s (but she can be played by a variety of ages); SHE wears a dark blue suit with a clerical collar. After church meetings, Sister Catherine, a Catholic nun greets her.

SCENE:  A hotel conference room in southeastern Pennsylvania.

TIME:  Tonight.

 

REVEREND ELIZABETH: Sister Catherine?  How are you doing?  If I had known you were going to be here, I would have taken part in the study group. They're using the old convent reading lists, talking about St. Teresa and Padre Pio.  I'm just sorry I’m on my way out.  I have an early morning, giving a fundraising speech. What has it been?  Eight, nine years, at least. 

(Pause.)

 

It gets stuffy in here without the air conditioning.  Please take off your coat.  I can stay a few minutes.  You’ve lost weight, I have to say—sit down—I hope not too much. 

(Pause.)

 

Paul usually gives the demonstrations, but he’s in England training: physical phenomena, clairvoyance.  Come back one Sunday and you can hear me preach.  (Writing a note.)  I'm going to give you the name of a healer—I can only imagine what you think of this.  You should take it, please let me give it to you.  [(SISTER CATHERINE refuses the note concerning the healer.)]  I said a voice told me to go in the convent.  (REVEREND ELIZABETH takes back the note.) Sending me to volunteer at rehab, it took me a while to realize you were trying to punish me.

I have to finish my speech before it gets too late.

(Silence.)

 

(REVEREND ELIZABETH looks through her papers.)  Sister Clare's mother, after she passed away, there was another voice .  .  .  “Won’t you offer my daughter my apologies? Would she forgive me?” She woke me up in the middle of the night.  Broke into my meditations and prayers. I lit votives and went twice a day to Mass, “Tell my daughter I ask for her love . .  ."

(Silence.)

 

(Practicing her speech.)  "It's easier to pick up a brick and put it in the ground than it is to stop abuse.   (Making notes.)  It's easier to have the miraculous communicated in the pages of a book than through a medium such as myself.  We're building this church together because it's easier to put a brick down than it is to live one more second in hating

yourself—"

 

The night manager is signaling to me, he wants to lock up.

I'm sorry, Sister Catherine.  If you’re not going to let me help you .  .  .  it's not something I need to be tested on.  All you thought was I was upsetting the novices with hallucinations, probably schizophrenic .  .  .

(Pause.) 

 

Calling out to the night manager.)  Jimmy, I'm with someone I know.  You don't mind if we stay a while longer. You can start turning off the lights if you want—we don’t care.

 (The lights are lowered.)

 

(To SISTER CATHERINE.) I guess I should be humbled you’re even here.  I know why you came, it’s not for my personality. God called me to enter the convent. I wanted to save the world, found out I couldn't do that.  I could save myself, maybe.  I took the holy vows; I broke them, not because of you .  .  . not because of you, Sister Catherine, who wanted to get me out! .  .  .  but because I couldn't stay any longer and honor myself, who I was!  I did hear voices, I did see—I won't let you or anyone tell me–I took the ring off.  I left Him. 

(Pause.)

 

(Calling out, suddenly, loud, to the spirit world.) Let’s get going! I've got two people here who need to go to work in the morning!

(Silence.) 

 

Sometimes I think of Sister Frances crying “Mama” before the death rattle.  The old nuns kept asking me to read Hildegard of Bingen, “I, the fiery life of divine wisdom, I ignite the beauty of the plains, I sparkle the waters, I burn in the beauty of the sun, and the moon, and the stars.” (Silence.) (Scanning her speech.)

 

I’ll look at this again tomorrow, I’m too tired now.  "To believe that there must be somebody else out there just like you, it must be easier than to imagine you're alone." (Pause.) You won’t mind if I leave when I’m through packing up. I understand you don’t want to talk—I don’t mean to be mad.  (Another set of lights is turned off.)   

(Silence.)

 

(REVEREND ELIZABETH senses a spirit.)  A young man . . .  You know who he is, he’s saying.  He shows me the image of a crow, like one you saw this morning.  I'm aware of St. Anne, the church where his urn is buried: Thomas.  He assures me he didn't take drugs like crack and cocaine.  It started with pills only to get high.  He’s your sister's son, does any of this make sense to you?  His roommate, never noticed or thought he was being forgetful, planning a retreat. Thomas takes the medication, slowly, not to be caught: Xanex, Tylenol with codeine, Halcyon, OxyContin, a precious capsule of morphine—anything, anything he can get his hands on.  Carefully he builds his stock,  only to be  told someone would be checking up on him, staying part of the time, watching—you. 

 

(Gaining intensity as the lights fade.)  He doesn't want you to be hurt. He's sorry for any trouble he's caused you. He couldn’t face his depression, he’s saying.  He knows you didn’t know how to help him. You can’t stop it, no matter what you do.  You can’t wake him up.  You can’t lift his body any further. Come back to life. You’re the one who’s alone. You’re the one who’s dead! (Pause.)

 

I won’t leave you. 

 

 

(Reprinted from One on One: The Best Women’s Monologues for the 21st Century.  All rights reserved.)