Contemporary Monologues — Women
(Last 100 Years)
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Mary O’Donnell — BOMBSHELLS
Character: Mary O’Donnell (A feisty teenage schoolgirl competing in a talent quest)
Author: Joanna Murray Smith (first performed 2001)
Brief Synopsis: Six funny and perceptive monologues about the stresses of modern female life
No one can sing and dance like me. No one in the whole school. I am the Liza Minnelli of St Brigid’s and nobody can say I’m not. I’ve got a better voice than Angela McTerry. Much better. Her only claim to fame is that she has breasts bigger than her head, of which I am envious… not. And I can dance which Angela McTerry cannot do even though she thinks she can. She has not got the physique. Angela McTerry does not look attractive in a leotard and somebody who loves her should tell her so. She’s got calves the size of the Soviet Union just like her sister Theresa McTerry – who’s getting married to Ted ‘The Pot-plant’ Swinbank on Saturday and thereby introducing the world to the lovely vision of Angela in tangerine chiffon. And she’s got tickets on herself just because her father’s on Neighbours. Like Neighbours is a big deal. Neighbours is not a big deal. The talent show is a big deal. I love the talent show. I love the talent show. So far there’s no one who even comes close. Allison Stoddard’s one-woman Waiting for Godot was a wank. Janice McElhone’s ‘Islands in the stream’ didn’t cut it – someone should have told her it was a duet. Veronica O’Grady’s ‘Abba Medley’ was a travesty. A travesty. I hope Bjorn and Benny never hear about it. Veronica O’Grady would be banned from Sweden. Mr Burbridge said: ‘Mary O’Donnell, the talent show is coming up so you had better get thinking, young lady.’ Mr Burbridge knows that I am the talent show. The talent show would be nothing without me. It would be ‘the show’. The show. Because I am the talent. Okay. Okay. Here we go. This is your last rehearsal, Mary O’Donnell. Do not stuff it up. Do not stuff it up.
Gillian — DAGS
Age: Late teens
Author: Debra Oswald (published 1987)
Brief Synopsis: Gillian is sixteen, suffers from the occasional ‘ack-attack’, and is worried about not having a boyfriend. She loves chocolate and is infatuated with the best-looking boy in school. A funny and compassionate look at adolescence.
All right. I’m going to admit something I never thought I’d admit to anyone ever. I’ve got a crush on Adam. Head over heels. Uncontrollable passion, etcetera. Unrequited passion, of course. Now I know this sounds like I’m throwing away everything I’ve said so far. And I guess I am. I know every girl at school except Monica is in love with him. I know he’d never go for a dag like me. I know it’s hopeless. I know all that. But I can’t help it. Just thinking he might look at me, my heart starts pounding like mad. And then I worry about whether he can tell my hearts going crazy, and I have to act really cool. This crush – it’s like a disease. Do you know – oh, I’m almost too embarrassed to admit this – Adam misses the bus sometimes. ‘Cos he’s chatting up some girl or something. And do you know what I do? I get off the bus after one stop and walk back to school, so I can hang around the bus stop hoping he’ll turn up. Just so I can ride on the same bus with him. Isn’t that the most pathetic thing you’ve ever heard? I’m crazy. I can lie here for hours thinking about him. Writing these movies in my head where Adam and me are the stars. I try to imagine how he’d notice me and fall hopelessly in love with me and all that. Like, one of my favourites is that the bus breaks down one day in this remote place and there we are stranded together. He discovers that I was this really fascinating woman all along. Far more interesting than all those silly girls at school. But – I say that I can’t bear to be just another notch on his belt. So Adam has to beg me to go out with him. Grovel almost. That’s a pretty over-the-top version.
Rose — SLOW DANCE ON THE KILLING GROUND
Character: Rose (a college student)
Age: Late teens-20s
Play: SLOW DANCE ON THE KILLING GROUND
Author: William Hanley (published 1965)
Brief Synopsis: The play starts with a poor, dusty shop.. the door is flung open, letting in a lithe young black man. In this dance for two, the characters make hesitant approaches, circle, feint, threaten each other with gun & ice pick but scarcely make contact. The young man is obviously a hunted man. The storekeeper a non-Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, is close-mouthed, suspicious, anxious to avoid self-involvement. The third dancer is Rosie, an 18-year old from Riverdale, who has wandered into the shop after losing her way with no illusions about her homeliness or about the encounter that has led to her troubles.
If you knew me better, you’d see that this is exactly the kind of thing that’s likely to happen to me. Getting knocked up, I mean. The point is it was my first time, I was a virgin before that. Wouldn’t you know it, I’d get caught? Aside from everything else, I’m not lucky, either. You see, if I was lucky, Harold and I could’ve succumbed to our silly little passion and that would’ve been that, the end of it. And New Rochelle, of all places. At least if it’d been in some nice apartment in the Village, say, with the sound coming through the window of traffic and people, the breeze blowing the curtain over the bed, like in the movies. But no. I lost my virginity in the attic of an old house in New Rochelle. Harold’s grandmother’s house. On a rainy day in spring on the floor of the attic in his grandmothers house, listening to the rain on the roof, breathing the dust of old things…And what comes next but his grandmother who was supposed to be in the city for the day. But instead, she’s suddenly standing there, screaming: “Stop that! Stop that this instant!” Needless to say, it was out of the question. Stopping. At that particular moment. I mean, sex is like a flight over the sea, one reaches the point of no return…I guess it sounds funny now, but you know, at the time…it was pretty rotten. Sordid, I mean…it wasn’t at all the way it’s supposed to be. And Harold, of all people. A girl finds herself in this predicament, this condition, she’d at least like to think the cause of it was some clever, handsome guy with charm and experience, just returned from spending a year in Rome, say, on a Guggenheim fellowship. But Harold. Harold is six foot two, about a hundred and twenty five pounds, tops, and an Economics major at CCNY…That’s about the best I’ll ever be able to do, I know it. Ever since I found out I was pregnant I’ve been walking around with a face down to here and my mother kept saying, “What’s the matter with you, anyway? I just don’t know what’s gotten into you lately.” So, finally, I told her: a kid named Harold, as a matter of fact.
Babe — CRIMES OF THE HEART
Age: late teens-20s
Play: CRIMES OF THE HEART
Author: Beth Henley (published 1982)
Brief Synopsis: Three eccentric sisters from a small Southern town are rocked by scandal when Babe, the youngest, shoots her husband, Zackery, a powerful and wealthy lawyer. Eventually, she reveals that the shooting was the result of her anger at Zackery’s cruel treatment both of her and of Willie Jay, a 15-year-old African American boy with whom she’s been having an affair with.Humor and pathos abound as the sisters unite with an intense young lawyer to save Babe from a murder charge, and overcome their familys painful past.
After I shot Zackery, I put the gun down on the piano bench, and then I went out into the kitchen and made up a pitcher of lemonade. I was dying of thirst. My mouth was just as dry as a bone. I made it just the way I like it, with lots of sugar and lots of lemon- about ten lemons in all. Then I added two trays of ice and stirred it up with my wooded stirring spoon. Then I drank three glasses, one right after the other. They were large glasses- about this tall. Then suddenly my stomach kind of swole all up. I guess what caused it was all that sour lemon Then what I did was? I wiped my mouth off with the back of my hand, like this? I did it to clear off all those little beads of water that had settled there. Then I called out to Zackery. I said, “Zackery, I’ve made some lemonade. Can you use a glass?” But he didn’t answer. So I poured him a glass anyway and I took it out to him. And there he was, lying on the rug. And he was looking up at me trying to speak words. I said “What?? Lemonade?? You don’t want it? Would you like a Coke instead?” Then I got the idea- he was telling me to call on the phone for medical help. So I got on the phone and called up the hospital. I gave my name and address and I told them my husband was shot and he was lying on the rug and there was plenty of blood. I guess that’s gonna look kinda bad. Me fixing that lemonade before I called the hospital. I tell you, I think the reason I made up the lemonade, I mean besides the fact that my mouth was bone dry, was that I was afraid to call the authorities. I was afraid. I – I really think I was afraid they would see that I had tried to shoot Zackery, in fact that I had shot him, and they would accuse me of possible murder and send me away to jail. I mean, in fact, that’s what did happen. That’s what is happening – ’cause here I am just about ready to go right off to the Parchment Prison Farm. Yes, here I am just practically on the brink of utter doom. Why, I feel so all alone.
Fiona — WHEN I WAS A GIRL I USED TO SCREAM AND SHOUT
Age: In the play she cuts back and forth between 15 and 32 years old
Play: WHEN I WAS A GIRL I USED TO SCREAM AND SHOUT
Author: Sharman Macdonald (Published 1990)
Brief Synopsis: A play that deals with the female experience of Scottish life and culture, and the difficulty of escaping from cultural conditioning.
(very quickly) Last week, I was on the bus, upstairs. I was going to see Dorothy and this girl up the front, she started having a fit or something. Must have been the heat. There were lots of people there between her and me but they, none of them… I went over to her and did what I could. She was heavy. I’d heard about them biting through their tongues. Epileptics. It wasn’t pretty. Me and this other bloke took her to the hospital. But I saw her first. He wouldn’t have done anything if I hadn’t. I didn’t get to see Dorothy. Well? That’s worth something, isn’t it? God. Are you listening? I’m not trying to bribe you. It’s plain economics. I mean, I’ve made a mistake. It was my fault and I was wrong. I take it all on me. OK. Now if you let it make me pregnant… God. Listen, will you. If I’m pregnant it’ll ruin four people’s lives. Five. Right? My Mum’ll be disappointed and her man’ll walk out on her. That’s two. Are you with me, God? I’ll not be very happy. My mother’ll hate me for the rest of my life for what I’ve done and that’s not easy to live with. That’s three. I’m still counting, God. Ewan’ll be in for it. Well, he can’t avoid it. I’m illegal and I’ve never been out with anybody else. Not that nobody fancied me. I wouldn’t like to think I was unpopular. Lots of people fancied me. My mum said I had to wait till I was sixteen. Then she relented just when Ewan happened to be there. Poor old Ewan. That’s four, God, that’s four. Then there’s the baby. If it’s there and if I have it it’s got no chance. It would be born in Scotland. Still there, are you? I hate Scotland. I mean, look at me. If I have an abortion the baby’ll be dead so that’ll be five anyway.
Meg — AWAY
Author: Michael Gow (first performed 1986)
Brief Synopsis: Away opens with a school performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Included in the school cast is Tom and Meg who form a friendship and slight attraction to each other. It’s Christmas in 1967 and time to re-enact the rituals of the summer holiday. Three Australian families set out separately but are driven together by a storm. At times funny and yet painfully truthful, Away explores the comedy and tragedy of their lives
I saw the carton. I saw it in the hall. I saw it. It was near the telephone table, wasn’t it? You saw it too, didn’t you? You saw the box sitting there. You must have. It was sitting next to your vanity case. Everything else that was in the hall got packed in the car. You did see it. You were that last one out. You’re the one who shuts the door, after you’ve made sure the stove’s off and the fridge has been left open. You saw the carton and you left it there on purpose. You left it behind. And you knew what it was. You knew what was in it and you left it there. Why did you do that? Why would you do a thing like that? I want to know why you did it. Tell me why you deliberately left that box behind. We have a game we play every year. We sneak presents home, we wrap them up in secret even though we can hear the sticky tape tearing and the paper rustling; we hide them in the stuff we take away, we pretend not to see them until Christmas morning even when we know they’re there and we know what’s in them because we’ve already put in our orders so there’s no waste or surprise. And Dad always hides his in a pathetic place that’s so obvious it’s a joke and we all laugh at him behind our backs but we play along! You knew what was in that box. You left it behind. I want to know why. What were you trying to do, what did you want to gain? Did you want to have something we’d all have to be sorry for the whole holiday? There’s always something we do wrong that takes weeks to forgive. You have to tell me.
Heavenly — SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
Play: SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH
Author: Tennessee Williams (published 1959)
Brief Synopsis: Chance Wayne, the one-time heart-throb of his hometown, returns hoping to break into the movies and find the girl he loved in his youth. He is accompanied by faded movie star, Alexandra Del Lago, yet he discovers that time is shortly to catch-up with him and wreak a terrible retribution for his past actions. In this scene: After contracting a venereal disease from her lover, Chance Wayne, Heavenly undergoes an operation to cure this disease- yet the operation was badly performed and leaves her barren.
Don’t give me your “Voice of God” speech. Papa, there was a time when you could have saved me, by letting me marry a boy that was still young and clean, but instead you drove him away, drove him out of St. Cloud. And when he came back, you took me out of St. Cloud, and tried to force me to marry a fifty-year-old money bag that you wanted something out of — and then another, another, all of them ones you wanted something out of. I’d gone, so Chance went away. Tried to compete, make himself big as these big-shots you wanted to use me for a bond with. He went. He tried. The right doors wouldn’t open, and so he went in the wrong ones, and — Papa, you married for love, why wouldn’t you let me do it, while I was alive, inside, and the boy was still clean, still decent? You married for love, but you wouldn’t let me do it, and even though you’d done it, you broke Mama’s heart. Miss Lucy was your mistress long before Mama died. And Mama was just in front of you. (pause) Can I go in now, Papa? Can I go in now, Papa? I’m sorry my operation has brought this embarrassment on you, but can you imagine it, Papa? I felt worse than embarrassed when I found out that Dr George Scudder’s knife had cut the youth out of my body, made me a childless woman. Dry, cold, empty, like an old woman. I feel as if I ought to rattle like a dead dried-up vine when the Gulf Wind blows, but, Papa — I won’t embarrass you any more.
Nora Morton — BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
Character: Nora Morton
Play: BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS
Author: Neil Simon (premiered 1983)
Brief Synopsis: Set in Brooklyn, New York in September 1937 during The Great Depression, this comedy focuses on Eugene, a Polish-Jewish American teenager who experiences puberty, sexual awakening, and a search for identity as he deals with his older brother Stanley, his parents Kate and Jack, his Aunt Blanche, and his two cousins, Nora and Laurie, who come to live there after their father’s death.
I can’t believe it. You mean it’s alright for you to leave us but it wasn’t alright for me to leave you?
It was my future. Why couldn’t I have something to say about it? I need to be independent.
So I have to give up the one chance I may never get again, is that it? I’m the one who has to pay for what you couldn’t do with your own life. I’m not judging you. I can’t even talk to you. I don’t exist to you. I have tried so hard to get close to you, but there was never any room. Whatever you had to give went to Daddy, and when he died, whatever was left you gave to Laurie…
….I have been jealous my whole life of Laurie because she was lucky enough to be born sick. I could never turn a light on in my room at night or read in bed because Laurie always needed her precious sleep. I could never have a friend over on the weekends because Laurie was always resting. I used to pray I’d get some terrible disease or get hit by a car so I’d have a leg all twisted and crippled and then once, maybe just once, I’d get to crawl into bed next to you on a cold rainy night and talk to you and hold you until I fell asleep in your arms…just once…
Cherie — BLACKROCK
Character: Cherie (Australian)
Age: Late teens
Author: Nick Enright (First performed 1995)
Brief Synopsis: Based on the murder of Leigh Leigh in Stockton, Australia. It’s Toby Ackland’s birthday party down near the surf club—and that should mean heaps of grog, drugs and good clean fun. But by the morning a young girl is dead—raped by three boys and bashed with a rock.
It was my fault. If we stuck together like we said, you and me and Leanne, you wouldn’t be here. But I lost youse all. Now I’ve lost you. And no-one knows how. You should hear the rumours. Someone seen a black Torana with Victorian number plates. It was a stranger in a Megadeath T‑shirt, it was a maddie from the hospital, even your stepdad. All these ideas about who did it, who did it, like it was a TV show. It is a TV show. Every night on the news. I want to yell out, this is not a body, this is Tracy you’re talking about. Someone who was here last week, going to netball, working at the Pizza Hut, getting the ferry, hanging out. You were alive. Now you’re dead. But I know you can hear me. I can hear you.
She plays a bit of the song.
Your song. Times we danced to that, you and me and Shana, Shana singing dirty words, remember? Mum hearing and throwing a mental…. I shouldn’t laugh, should I? Not here. But all I can think of is the other words.
She turns off the tape.
You were wearing my earrings. You looked so great. And some guy took you off and did those things to you. Wish I knew who. You know, Trace. Nobody else does. If I knew, but I’d go and kill him. I’d smash his head in. I’d cut his balls off. I’d make him die slowly for what he did to you.
Babe — CRIMES OF THE HEART
Age: late teens-20s
Play: CRIMES OF THE HEART
Author: Beth Henley (published 1982)