21 Best Contemporary Dramatic Monologues For Women From Published Plays
1. LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE
A monologue from the play by Nora and Delia Ephron
The truth is, I have no fashion sense – never did. For many years I blamed this on my mom’s death.
Then again, I blame pretty much everything on that, my weight, my addiction to television, my inability to spell.
In my fantasy world, had my mother lived, I would be extremely well-dressed. I would know what went with what, and everything I tried on would fit.
Mom and I would shop together at the places that moms and daughters go – a department store, an outlet mall, the flea market. I would wear a lot of tasteful make-up too.
We would lunch someplace while shopping. It would be at a café where we would have salad and like it.
We’d laugh about how great our lives turned out and make plans for the things we were still going to do.
But that’s all a dream, because my mother did not live. She died when she was 39 years old. (Beat)
The fact is that no item of clothing has ever moved me in any way – except one.
After my mom died, my father took his five motherless children to Belfast, Northern Ireland. I guess he thought we could best recover from the trauma of her death by living in a war zone.
The IRA was nowhere near as scary as what had just happened to our lives. When we returned, we found her side of the closet empty. All her clothes were gone. (Beat)
A few years later my dad got remarried to a lovely woman. She was a schoolteacher named Mary May. After the wedding she moved in.
That first morning she was there, I was eating breakfast with a few of my siblings when my new stepmom walked down the stairs and into the kitchen.
She was wearing a long burgundy velour three-quarter sleeve zip bathrobe with a thick vertical white stripe down the center, surrounding the zipper.
No one said a word. We all looked at each other then back at Mary as she happily made her way to the stove to put on the kettle.
My mother had had the same exact bathrobe – in blue. Electric blue. What are the chances of that really?
The unspoken rule in my house was that my mom’s name was never mentioned after her death. But that morning, I knew that rule was about to be broken.
My siblings left the kitchen. I was alone with Mary. “Mary,” I said. “My Mom had the same bathrobe in blue.” “Oh,” she said.
And that robe disappeared. Gone. Sent away to the same place my mother’s clothes went, I assume. (Beat)
To this day that bathrobe is the only piece of clothing I can actually see in my mind. I have no visuals of prom dresses or favorite sweater or shoes I couldn’t live without.
Clothes are just something I use for cover, leaving room for one electric blue memory.
2. THE STORY
A monologue from the play by Tracey Scott Wilson
Jessica’s husband was murdered when the couple stopped for gasoline in a black neighborhood.
Here she is talking to a detective about the crime.
I want to change my statement. It was a girl. (Pause.) It was a girl. . . . (Pause.)
Now, I hear they’re wondering if maybe it was a student of Tim’s seeking revenge or something. Did you hear that? . . .
But you know black kids don’t really do that, do they? Black kids don’t go into the cafeteria and shoot up everybody or stalk teachers and shoot them.
Isn’t that true? If one of Tim’s black students was angry with him, the black student would have shot Tim right there in the moment. Isn’t that right? (Pause.)
Isn’t that right? (Detective doesn’t answer.) Then we wouldn’t be here. The black student would have been arrested and we wouldn’t be here. (Pause.)
A couple of weeks ago some people were even saying I had something to do with it. Like it was all some elaborate scheme I thought up. (Pause.)
I don’t know if it was a girl dressed like a guy or a guy dressed like a girl dressed like a guy. I only know the killer was black. (Pause.)
The killer was black.
3. Child Soldier
A monologue from the play by J. Thalia Cunningham
Destiny, a former child soldier in Liberia, has come to the United States as an undocumented refugee,
where she struggles to navigate the battlefield of an inner-city high school while keeping her past a secret and striving for an education.
She has learned that her friend, Martina, a gang member, is HIV+.
She refuses to take Martina’s baby, Sofia, should Martina die, because she prefers to remain focused on her education.
This refusal of the child catalyzes her recollection of what happened to her own baby when she was a child soldier.
Destiny (early twenties, Liberian)
You were only a few months old. But already such a bright little girl! Laughing and chattering such pretty sounds.
How I loved you! I would have gladly given my life for you, but it wouldn’t have helped. It was time to go out fighting again.
They gave us drugs, slitting our foreheads with razors so cocaine would go directly into the bloodstream. Then they performed the ritual to make us brave.
There you were, the next one to be sacrificed. He picked you up. I screamed and cried, but he held his knife to my throat and said he’d kill me, too, if I made one more sound.
He slit your throat, a flash of unbearable pain, while a soldier about my age held a cup to collect your blood.
My own flesh was on fire. The cup was passed around for all of us to drink. I drank without thinking.
My eyes were only on you, as you slowly stopped crying and wiggling and breathing, the last drops of blood dripping out your chubby little neck like water from a leaky tap.
Then you were still, so still. Your blood ringed my lips as I rushed forth to gather you in my arms, but they wouldn’t even let me hold you once more.
His knife was in my back as we carried our guns out into the bush. I turned back to look at your little body, a naked scrap of promise lying in the dust.
He prodded me, forcing me to turn around, mixing your blood with mine. The scar is all I have left of you.
How I long to hug you, kiss you. It hurts. It hurts so much.
4. Bug Study
A monologue from the play by Emma Goldman-Sherman
Jane’s father, an entomologist, spends years away from home working in a rain forest.
Here, he has come home for a while, and she tells him what she thinks of his being an absentee father.
Are you getting a divorce? Cause if you’re getting a divorce, you haven’t changed a bit. Do you still spend your nights dozing over a textbook in that leather chair as if you’re really there?
At least when you are gone, you are gone. Now you’re supposed to be here, but you’re gone at the same time, sort of like . . . I know! I know! You’re Virtual Dad! Plug him in and pretend he loves you!
Am I bothering you? Making you want to leave again? Go on. You’re good at it. It will be just like all the other times you’ve left, only this time, you’re already packed. I can hardly look at you standing by your bags.
I can’t tell if you’re coming or going. Do you know the difference, or is there only one way for you? It’s away, right?
This is the moment when you swing by to tell me you’re leaving again, on a longer trip with a bigger grant to study something even stranger than before, before I’m even used to having you around?
I’m sorry. I guess I’m feeling cold and unwelcoming. Are you lonely for your long lost family, the one you never really wanted, or do people want families before they’re formed and then freak out that they can’t manage them once they get them?
I don’t know. I’m just a kid. How would I know? All I know is that my adults, the ones assigned to me, they don’t seem to want me around, or I can put it differently, they don’t want to be around me.
Ah, you say that isn’t true. You say you love me, but doesn’t love mean being available to a person? Most of my life I haven’t even been able to call you, and forget visiting. A person needs shots and a state department visa just to get to you.
But you have a great excuse, because the rainforest isn’t wired for cell service. I have this thing about not seeing people in the flesh. My therapist, are you in therapy? You really should be in therapy, you know.
So Mary Beth, my therapist, says I flunked Peek-A-Boo. It’s that stage in development when a kid starts to trust her primary caretaker, to believe that he or she is there even if she can’t see him.
I flunked that part, and if a person isn’t right before my eyes, I don’t necessarily believe they exist. So if you really are here, and you’re really not just stopping in to say you’re leaving again, you’re going to have to do better than this.
Silence, your silence, isn’t working for me.
A monologue from the play by Winsome Pinnock
You’re selfish, do you know that? Do you think that you’re the only one who doesn’t get a visit? The only one who doesn’t get phone calls?
At least you get letters. Home is a long way away for all of us. I know what you’re doing. You’re sucking all my energy up in your silence.
You can’t do that. The rules are different here. Don’t you understand? There isn’t enough pity to go round.
(She turns away from Lou.)
When I was ten I started getting sharp pains in my side and had to be taken to the doctors. Where does it hurt?
Here, here, or here? His fingers were cold where they touched-no, prodded-me. His pokes left little indentations all over my body because there was no life in my skin.
His touch felt like love or as close to it as I could imagine. His touch stayed with me long after the pain had gone and I longed for it.
If I concentrated long enough I could make the pain appear by an effort of will. It became the mystery of our street.
I was obviously not faking it and yet no one could find the reason for the pain. It was the first time I’d got one over on them.
They wanted me to hurt because healing me gave them a reason to live, a reason to continue to believe in themselves.
Sometimes when the doctor was examining me I felt our roles were reversed and that I was prodding his tummy,
listening for his irregular heartbeat and when our gazes met – one cold stare meeting another – I could see that he was aware that I knew.
6. Summer And Smoke
A monologue from the play by Tennessee Williams
But I don’t want to be talked to like some incurably sick patient you have to comfort. Oh, I suppose I am sick,
one of those weak and divided people who slip like shadows among you solid strong ones. But sometimes,
out of necessity, we shadowy people take on a strength of our own. I have that now. You needn’t try to deceive me.
You needn’t try to comfort me. I haven’t come here on any but equal terms. You said, let’s talk truthfully, even shamelessly, then!
It’s no longer a secret that I love you. It never was. I loved you as long ago as the time I asked you to read the stone angels with your fingers.
Yes, I remember the long afternoons of our childhood, when I had to stay indoors to practice my music—
and hear your playmates calling you, “Johnny, Johnny!” How it went through me, just to hear your name called!
And how I—rushed to the window to watch you jump the porch railing! I stood at a distance, halfway down the block,
only to keep in sight of your torn red sweater, racing about the vacant lot you played in. Yes, it had begun that early,
this affliction of love, and has never let go of me since, but kept on growing. I’ve lived next door to you all the days of my life,
a weak and divided person who stood in adoring awe of your singleness, of your strength. And that is my story!
Now I wish you would tell me—why didn’t it happen between us? Why did I fail? Why did you come almost close enough—and no closer?
7. THE MOONLIGHT ROOM
A monologue from the play by Tristine Skyler
What do you know? Your mom’s with someone. She’s happy. My mom barely goes out. She says she’d rather stay home and clean the apartment.
I’m not even allowed to have friends over because they’ll interfere with her depression. And she doesn’t want to wash her hair.
Sometimes she goes a whole week. I tell her that if maybe we had people around she would start to feel better.
But she doesn’t listen. She’ll sit there watching ‘Jeopardy’ and bad-mouth my dad. The same speech I’ve been hearing since he left.
On and on and on and on. And then when he comes over to pick me up, she puts on lipstick!
She doesn’t wash her hair, and she has on the same outfit she’s worn for three days, but she puts on lipstick!
I swear one night I’m going to go out, and I’m just not going to come home. (They sit in silence for a few beats. Sal becomes embarrassed.)
I just don’t want to have to call her. (Pause.) You don’t realize how lucky you are. You do whatever you want.
You could come home tomorrow and it’s fine. I come home tomorrow and I’m on the back of a milk carton.
8. STILL LIFE
A monologue from the play by Seth Kramer. (The play ‘Still Life’ is part of the anthology ‘Special Days’)
MICHELLE (twenties – thirties)
Michelle is in a hospital gown, her hands are wrapped.
That’s what they all say. The f***ing head shrinks who won’t leave me alone now. That’s their line of crap.
(Vicious.) “Time to let the healing begin. Let’s talk about what you’re feeling. What you’re afraid of.” I don’t need to hear this sh*t from you! (Beat.)
A few times a week, you know, they come in here and prod me. The doctors. The psychoanalysts. The physical therapists.
And we go through the same routine every time. They —they take needles and poke at my hands. I watch them do this.
Each finger, my palms, my thumbs. Watching for any kind of reaction. “Did I feel that?” No. “Can I move this?”
No. “What sensation do you get when I do that?” Nothing! They give me balls to squeeze, and “fine motor” tasks to practice.
They hook me up to a machine and take turns running electrical currents through my stumps. Just to see which fingers twitch a little and which ones remain lifeless.
(Beat.) We have the talks. The talks about . . . About degrees of progress . . . about long-term improvement and adaptive skills for the real world and all that sh*t.
(Beat.) That’s my life now. (Beat.) You do a thing long enough, your whole life, I guess . . . I don’t really think it matters what that thing is . . . Bowling, playing poker, art . . .
I don’t think it matters. Eventually, it becomes you —that part of you that gives you a reason to wake up and breathe every day.
I mean, that’s what it’s all about, right? (Beat.) Your purpose, right? (Pause.) The FIRE took that from me.
It took everything. Every single thing I ever made —Painted —All of it just torched to high hell. You have no idea what that means.
What that felt like. (Pause.) I was meant to burn there, with everything else. You should have left me.
A monologue from the play by Lynn Nottage
UNDINE (Thirties, Black)
Undine has really been through hell. Once the owner of a successful P.R. firm, she lost everything when her husband absconded with all her money.
She has been arrested for trying to buy heroin — not for herself but for her addicted grandmother, and has been ordered by a judge to attend an encounter group for drug addicts.
Here, she starts out talking to Guy, an addict in the group, but expands her confessional to include everyone, finishing up with Guy, who might be the only person who can redeem her.
I’ve never heard anyone say I’m happy and actually feel it. People around me say it automatically in response to how are you doing?
But when you say it, I’m looking at you, I believe you actually mean it. And I find that reassuring. Because mostly I feel rage.
(Undine realizes the addicts are eavesdropping and finds herself including them in her confessional.)
Anger, which I guess is a variation of rage and sometimes it gives way to panic, which in my case is also a variation of rage.
I think it’s safe to say that I have explored the full range of rage. And it has been with me for so long, that it’s comforting.
I’m trying to move beyond it, sometimes I even think I have, but mostly I’m not a very good human being.
Sometimes I’m less than human, I know this, but I can’t control it. I killed my family. (A collective gasp.)
Yes, I killed them. It was on the day of my college graduation. Dartmouth. My family drove 267 miles in a rented minivan, loaded with friends and relatives eager to witness my ceremony.
They were incredibly proud, and why not? I was the first person in the family to graduate from college.
They came en masse, dressed in their Alexander’s best.
Loud, overly eager, lugging picnic baskets filled with fragrant ghetto food . . . let’s just say their enthusiasm overwhelmed me.
But I didn’t mind, no, I didn’t mind until I overheard a group of my friends making crass unkind comments about my family.
They wondered aloud who belonged to those people. It was me. I should have said so. I should have said that my mother took an extra shift so I could have a new coat every year.
My father sent me ten dollars every week, his lotto money. But instead I locked myself in my dorm room and refused to come out to greet them.
And I decided on that day that I was Undine Barnes, who bore no relationship to those people. I told everyone my family died in a fire, and I came to accept it as true.
It was true for years. Understand, Sharona had to die in a fire in order for Undine to live. At least that’s what I thought.
What I did was awful, and I’m so sorry. And Guy, you are such a good decent man. And I wouldn’t blame you if you walked away right now.
But I don’t want you to. I feel completely safe with you.
I am not yet divorced, I’m being investigated by the FBI, I’m carrying the child of another man and I’m not really a junkie.
Are you still happy? And you’re not medicated?
A monologue from the play by Lisa d’Amour
I can’t believe we’re actually going! Do you know the campground is only twelve miles away from here? I’ve googled it so many times.
In case of emergency. I sit there and look at the website and imagine. I think nature is really going to help.
Mary, every day really is a new day. But Mary, I open my eyes every morning and all I want is a pipe to smoke.
It’s like there’s a fire burning in the center of my head, Mary, and the pipe is the water that will put it out.
And I say this at our meetings, and they are all very supportive, but the fire only goes down a little bit. Every day, all day.
And in the middle of this burning I am supposed to envision my life, Mary.
I’m supposed to set goals and maybe take night classes that will expand my horizons. And I guess that works, Mary, I guess so.
But to be honest I feel like the real opportunities are the ones that fall into your lap. Like winning the lottery or someone’s rich uncle needing a personal assistant.
That almost happened to me once, Mary. And everything would have been different.
11. THE BELLES OF THE MILL
A monologue from the play by Rachel Rubin Ladutke
Bridget Gallagher is an Irish mill worker, addressing Congress in 1912.
Representative Berger and members of the Committee. I am Bridget Eileen Gallagher, from Ireland. I am eighteen years old.
When I was fifteen, my mother took me to Cork and put me on a boat to America. She told me there was nothing for me in Ireland.
And she was right. I was so excited to be going to America. Terrified too, o’ course.
When I first got off the boat, I felt like I was in a different world from everyone and every place I’d ever known and loved.
I’ve never felt so alone in my life. And I was right to be scared. I don’t mind hard work, but there’s a difference between hard work and slavery.
You all may think, you may have been told, that this strike is just a group of troublemakers who want to destroy the city.
But it’s not true. The strikers I’ve met have as much of a stake in Lawrence as the mill officials and politicians do.
More, even. We’re the ones that live there, and ship there, and worship there.
Meanwhile, not a single one of the mill officials, from second hand on up, live in Lawrence if they can afford not to. (pause)
Do you know what it’s like inside of a mill? Have you ever had to set foot in one of those hellholes?
Day after day, I can hardly get the sound out of my ears. Thread flying through the air. Thread working its way into my lungs.
I once saw an older woman –she must have had years of experience –get her dress caught in the machinery.
I rushed to turn it off, but it was too late. She died right there, on the floor.
They came and carried her out, and the boss told us just to keep working like nothing had happened. And we did.
We were afraid of losing our jobs if we stopped for five minutes. It could just as easily have been me.
You get tired, and the machines go faster and faster, and there’s no chance of a break. If we want fresh water, we have to pay ten cents a week for it.
And then ‘tisn’t even cold or fresh. Ever since I came to Lawrence I work six days a week in the mill.
Death is all around me, death and pain and suffering. It has been since I first came to Lawrence, and I see no end to it. (pause)
I love this country for what I’ve always known it could be.
But working in the mills kills your hopes and dreams, and even your spirit. Do you love this country as much as I do?
Aye, of course you do. You must. Nobody could live here and not realize what an amazing, wonderful place it is.
You must see that strike had to happen, and that something has got to change. We’ve done what we can.
Now it’s up to you.
12. LIVING OUT
A monologue from the play by Lisa Loomer
ANA (early to mid-thirties)
Ana is a Hispanic woman who’s living in California, where she works as a nanny.
She is talking on the phone to her young son, Tomas, who lives back home with his grandmother while Ana and her husband try to get established in America.
Tomas? Soy mami! . . . Me puedes oir, mijo? . . . Como estas? . . . Si? Recibiste el paquete? And the shirt?
Does it fit? (Pronouncing it for him.) “Hill-finger.”
(Laughs.) I don’t know, mijo, they like to put their name on everything, quien sabe . . . How is school? . . .
Then you got to study a little harder, Tomas, so when you come here you know your math . . . OK, just spend a little more time . . .
What are you eating? . . . Bueno, Tomas, pero don’t eat too much sugar . . . Pues, tell me something else —
(He’s running out of conversation.) Do you miss me? . . . I miss you up to the sky! . . . You’re going to come real soon, mijo.
(Surprised.) No, no, not for vacation — you’re going to come here to live! . . . No, not with abuela.
Your great grandmother don’t want to come, mijo, she says she’s too old. (Pained.) I know it’s hard to leave her.
But don’t you want to be with mami? . . . Oye, did you get the pictures I sent you from the beach? With the rides?
(Laughs.) Te gustan? That’s me and my sister-in-law and her friend. (Pause; fighting tears.) No, mijo . . . I’m the one in the middle. (She hangs up.)
13. RAGE AMONGST YOURSELVES
A monologue from the play by Amy Beth Arkawy
Tess is at a group therapy meeting, struggling to find a place where she belongs.
Being adopted . . . is about feeling like you . . . I mean feeling like I don’t belong anywhere.
(Pause, embarrassed) I sound like I’m on Sally Jesse Raphael or something. Let’s just forget it. It’s not important anyway.
It’s ancient history. It’s got nothing to do with anything, anyway. It was bad enough not to look like them.
But I didn’t even think like them or . . . (laughs) smell like them. It’s crazy, but for the longest time, I actually tried to smell like my mother.
I’d sneak into her closet and wrap myself up in her old fisherman’s sweater just so her smell would rub off on me. But it never worked. (laughs)
It was this blend of Chanel Number Five, cigarettes, and wintergreen lifesavers. It was sickening, really. (pause)
See, how nuts is that? I wanted to walk through the world engulfed in a nauseating aroma just because it reminded me of my mother.
The thing is, I don’t think they ever really wanted me, which sounds stupid because when most people adopt a child it’s because they really do want one but can’t have their own.
I think my parents adopted me because it was the right thing to do. Like they were proving to the world, to God, maybe, that they were good people.
But they never seemed to want me around. I think they went on a cruise ship up the Nile three days after they brought me home. (pause, a laugh)
It must have been three weeks. Three days wouldn’t look good. It’s like they traveled all the time.
When I was fourteen they sent me to Emma Willard –it’s a boarding school. And then they stayed home. Now they keep asking why I don’t visit more often.
How messed up is that?
14. KIMBERLY AKIMBO
A monologue from the play by David Lindsay-Abaire
Pattie is convinced she’s going to die soon, and is here breaking the news to her sister, Debra,
and her teenaged daughter, Kimberly, who has a disease that causes premature aging.
. . . I’m sorry I forgot, honey. I think the cancer’s spread to my memory cells. . . . I’m gonna die, Kim. It’s sad, but you need to be prepared.
People pass away, you know. Suddenly they’re gone forever. Look at Mr. Hicks. One day he’s bringing me cabbages from his garden, the next day he drops dead.
(To Debra who passes from basement to exit house.) Remember when Mr. Hicks dropped dead, Debra? . . .
(To Kimberly.) You’ll miss me, too. Because I’m a fixture in your life. You’ll have to actually remind yourself I’m gone.
That’s how it was when your Nana died. I kept forgetting she was dead. I’d see a sale at the supermarket and think,
“Oh Ma should get down there for those pork chops.” And then I’d remember, “Oh yeah, she’s dead.”
You get so used to someone being there, it takes your body a long time to adjust.
(Kimberly continues to clear the table.) Like when you move a lamp, and you keep going to the same place to turn it on in the dark, even though you moved it across the room weeks ago.
Or do you remember when Cinnamon died, and we still kept going to put the table scraps into his dog bowl?
We were just so used to it? That’s how it’s gonna be when I’m gone. You’ll have to keep reminding yourself that I’m not here anymore.
15. PAST TENSE FEMININE GENDER
A monologue from the play by Le Wilhelm
Alma is a young woman welcoming a new century on New Year’s Eve in 1900.
It’s a beautiful night. Not a cloud in the sky. Looking out the window you see a million stars. I don’t know if I have ever seen a finer night than this.
There’s snow on the ground and the light from the moon and stars reflects off the white land. I’m all dressed up because it’s New Year’s Eve.
This dress was made by a company in Philadelphia. It’s my first dress that I’ve ever had that wasn’t made by my momma.
I like it a lot, but I like a dress that’s made by my momma too, ‘cause I get to watch it being born.
And I get to try it on and even make suggestions sometimes when she’s in a good mood. In just a few seconds it will be a brand new century!!
You can probably hear them downstairs.
That’s where the party is going on. I snuck up here to the attic room so I could be by myself. I love it up here.
I always go here when I want to be alone. I also like to look out the window at the hills and the river.
Tonight I’m up here waiting for the twentieth century to arrive. Because it’s a new century, everyone has been acting strange, real excited and planning big parties.
Well, that’s what most people are doing. Some folks in town have said that this is the end of time.
My parents don’t believe that’s going to happen and neither do I, so they’re having a party.
I feel kind of sorry for all those people who believe the world’s going to end ‘cause when it don’t, I guess they’re going to be terribly disappointed and feel downright foolish.
I know I would! If I had gone around telling everyone the end is near, and then the end doesn’t end. I’d feel like an idiot.
You probably think it’s odd that I don’t want to be downstairs at the party with my friends and family where all the fun’s going on.
I just want to be by myself. So I can remember it. I want to be able to remember when the twentieth century dawned.
I know it’s just a date on the calendar . . . but still it’s a new century . . . my century–it’s when I’m going to love most of my life . . .
and no one knows what’s going to happen . . . all kinds of changes . . . all sorts of wonderful things that I’m going to be a part of.
I’m curious and I’m scared . . . and I’m excited . . .
16. GOING TO ST. IVES
A monologue from the play by Lee Blessing
CORA (forties – fifties)
Cora is a British doctor, here talking to the mother of a nefarious African dictator who has come to her for treatment of her failing eyesight.
The woman has asked Cora to tell her why she became a doctor.
I loved life. . . . No. I loved life. That which animates. That first wriggle, that shiver. The instant something turns into a living being. Indefinable.
I get the sheerest pleasure simply from its presence. . . . There’s nothing without life. They sent a mission to Mars —
utterly extraordinary, a different world—yet only one question interested us: Is there life? As though it couldn’t be a world otherwise.
That fantastically pitiful picture of a tiny shovel sifting through a bit of sterile dirt. Please, we thought, let there be mold, virus, something . . .
that on some level goes through what we do —lives, experiences, dies. I don’t know what we were going to do: put a leash ’round its neck, give it a name?
Still, it meant everything. When we found nothing, centuries of fascination with the “Red Planet” simply vanished. Who cares? No life.
But then the meteorites in the polar ice cap were found, and instantly the passion resumed —ancient life, microscopic, eons ago.
And we’re spending trillions, just to know that once there had been an organism there —the tiniest packet of matter —that was alive. I for one understand that.
That’s how it is with me: personal, visceral, irrational. I love life, I love to discover life, to save it. I love to see it stay.
17. THE COLORED MUSEUM (THE LAST MAMA ON THE COUCH PLAY)
A monologue from the play by George C. Wolfe
She was a creature of regal beauty who in ancient times graced the temples of the Nile with her womanliness.
But here she was, stuck being colored and a woman in a world that valued neither.
Feet flat, back broke, she looked at the man who, though he be thirty still ain’t got his own apartment. Yeah, he’s still livin’ with his Mama!
And she asked herself, was this the life for a Princess Colored, who by the translucence of her skin, knew the universe was her sister.
And she cried for her sisters in Detroit Who knew, as she, that their souls belonged on the Nile. And she cried for her sisters in Chicago who, like her, their life has become one colored hell.
18. FIGHTING WORDS
A monologue from the play by Sunil Kuruvilla
Peg is a Welsh woman in love with boxing and in love with local hero, boxer Johnny Owen, who’s fighting a bout in Los Angeles for the world welterweight title.
Here she is talking to her sister, Nia, about why she and Johnny are, as they say, made for each other.
I know Johnny’s hands. (Silence. Peg slowly starts to confess her relationship with Johnny to her sister.)
Every Saturday night, Johnny and I meet in the basement of the church with the rest of you.
We wait until everyone starts dancing close then we sneak away. We go to the gym. I boost Johnny to the window.
I can’t fit through but he can. He comes around and unlocks the door. You don’t want to hear the rest. . . .
Johnny never likes to take his shirt off. I have to go first. My skirt. His trousers. My stockings. His socks. Stripped naked, we dress each other.
Working from the ground up. Socks, shoes. Leather cup. The laces rub my spine. Satin trunks tied in the front.
The knot against my belly. Fingers on my lips. His rough hands rub Vaseline on my face. . . . We try to make each other bleed.
Eyes wide open. Seeing everything. I’m bigger but he’s quicker. I try to get inside on him, close the distance.
I make him go hard: (Shouts:) “Don’t hold back! Floor me! Go for my body!” (Peg moves toward Nia.)
Hook to the kidney. Shot to the belly. He makes me ache. But I study his body. He drops his shoulder after double jabbing.
He sits down on his back foot. He always backs away shocked when I figure him out. In the end we come together.
A tired clinch. (Peg clinches Nia.) Shoulder to shoulder. Our arms hooked together to keep the other from punching.
Breathing each other’s breath. Exhausted. Alive. You hear your man breathe. You hear yourself.
19. FUDDY MEERS
A monologue from the play by David-Lindsay-Abair
Claire is a woman struggling with memory loss.
You remember that dog? Skinny old thing Mr. Cuthart kept tied up in the front lawn all day? Daddy always said he was going to report him.
Remember she just sat in the sun, biting at her scabs?
Cuthart didn’t even give her any water. So I’d sneak down the road with my squirt gun, and spritz water into her mouth and she’d bark.
And one day, when Cuthart was downtown, I untied her and let her run around a little.
But she darted straight into the road, just as Daddy’s pickup was coming around the curve, and he didn’t see her, so he plowed into her.
Daddy and I came through the back door, and Nancy was hanging out of his arms like a set of broken bagpipes.
And he spread her out on the kitchen floor and she was breathing real hard. And the pain was humming off of her like I could hear it.
And she just let the pain take her over. And that’s all she was. This pained thing. And Daddy was bent over her, talking to her real quiet.
And all of a sudden Nancy stood up, like it was a new day, and she started running around the kitchen like she wasn’t half-dead, barking and clicking her nails against the floor tiles.
And we were all shocked because Nancy was like a puppy all of a sudden, not that bony heap on the floor.
She was this fireball for about three minutes, until she got tired again, and curled up beside the sink and went to sleep and died like it meant nothing.
You remember how all that happened to her? It’s funny how almost everything else is gone to me, and that sad old dog just came into my head.
A monologue from the play by Edwin Sanchez
Altagracia is a woman whose face is noticeably deformed and whose spirit is noticeably amazing.
When I was a mere slip of a girl I went to my high school prom. This is not gonna bring up any evil high school memories, is it?
I had no intention of going, but my mother found out the theme was Mardi Gras and that everyone had to wear a mask.
She became like a woman possessed. It mattered so much to her that I let myself be talked into it.
Let her spend money we didn’t have on this beautiful red velvet dress, let her make this gorgeous mask of feathers and sequins.
I even let her pay my cousin to take me. She took a Polaroid of us and she waved us off. I thought my heart was gonna pop out of my chest.
There I was outside the gymnasium door, and on the other side, everyone who had ever made my life hell for the past twelve years.
The doors open, and all eyes turn to face the fairy princess.
Not a single person recognized me. Not a soul. I was the mystery girl. If I could bottle any moment in my life, that would be it.
Then somebody figured out who I was. And they all looked away, like they were embarrassed for me. Like I had been caught trying to pull something off.
But I fixed them. I took over the prom.
I got in the middle of the dance floor with my arms spread out, taking up as much space as I could and started spinning around.
And while I was out there no one else dared to dance. They didn’t have the guts to look me in the eye. It became my prom, all mine. (pause)
Sometimes, you just gotta make people feel uncomfortable. Make the golden people look away.
21. THE DARK PARENT
A monologue from the play by Victor Bravo
Carol is a woman whose daughter has disappeared.
It’s been six weeks since I last talked to my daughter. She’s still the foremost part of my life, and for that, she’ll forever hold power over me.
I teach children piano and drama every day and often see her face in one of their faces, or hear her voice in one of their voices.
Maybe I’m naïve, but I refuse to accept the end of her. I refuse to accept the arbitrariness of a violent world.
So strongly do I feel her alive, that the telephone, an otherwise inanimate object that I’ve always hated, has become the center of my world at home.
No matter what I’m doing, it always seems to draw my attention. I wait for it to ring. Periods between rings are transitional, unreal times.
And when the person on the other end is not her I chat amiably, set the receiver down, and wait for it to ring again.
In very weak moments I pray to the phone. The phone has become my god. (pause) My husband stayed in New Orleans another week after I returned to Texas.
He called Detective Sorenson everyday to see if anyone had made an attempt to claim the car. No one had.
He made the rounds of clubs and restaurants, believing intensely with each new morning that this was going to be the day he found her.
That was his way of exhausting all possibilities. He doesn’t understand the possibilities are endless.
He wants to believe she’s alive, but darkness has always won with him.
So, he’s returning to the French Quarter next weekend to ask people his heartfelt questions and show them her picture. (pause)
I can’t do that. Now, I do what he used to. I stare out the window into the driveway at three in the morning, waiting for her to pull up.
I stare dreamily, until her car, blurry, creeps alongside the front garden, and her face, tired but glorious, catches the porch light as she climbs out and walks toward the house.
And I don’t think it’s silly at all.