The Ultimate Scene and Monologue Sourcebook: An Actor's Guide to over 1000 Monologues and Dialogues from More Than 300 Contemporary Plays - Ed Hooks (2007)

PART THREE. FEMALE MONOLOGUES

ABSENT FRIENDS

by Alan Ayckbourn (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, p. 41, Diana (30s)

Actually, this is a sad and touching monologue in the middle of a very funny play. Diana begins this speech by recalling a pretty red coat she owned as a child. She liked red because she wanted to join the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, but then she found out that “girls don’t do that kind of thing.” They type and knit and marry and have babies. So Diana married and had babies, but now she sees how empty all of this is and wishes that she could have joined the Royal Mounted Police anyway. At the end of the speech, she breaks into sobs. This unusual monologue could be a showstopper at an audition. Written in the British vernacular. Start: “I’d seen it in the window of this shop when I walked to school. It was red.” End: “I know I should have joined the Mounted Police. (Starting to sob) I want to join the Mounted Police. Please.”

AGNES OF GOD

by John Pielmeier (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Scene 4, pp. 19–20, Agnes (21)

Agnes tells her court-appointed psychiatrist where she believes “good” and “bad” babies come from. This is an interesting speech, full of inner conviction and logic that is apparent only to Agnes. Start: “Well, I think they come from when an angel lights on their mother’s chest and whispers into her ear.” End: “God loves you!…God loves you.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 10, pp. 48–49, Mother Superior (50s)

It is becoming clear that the psychiatrist intends to probe Agnes’s mind more deeply, and that the Mother Superior feels threatened. In this reflective speech, she describes her adult life as a time of pointless drifting. After joining the convent, she didn’t find meaning…until the night she heard Agnes singing in an upstairs room. Suddenly, Mother Superior felt connected to God. She asks the doctor not to jeopardize her faith. Start: “When I was a child I used to speak with my guardian angel.” End: “Those years after six were very bleak.”

AMEN CORNER, THE

by James Baldwin (Samuel French)

Drama: Act III, pp. 87–88, Margaret (35–45)

Margaret begs her son not to pursue the life of a professional musician, not to turn out like his daddy. A short, strong speech. Eliminate Odessa’s line. Start: “David, I’m older than you. I done been down the line.” End: “You think I want you one day lying where your daddy lies today?”

AMERI/CAIN GOTHIC

by Paul Carter Harrison (Totem Voices, Plays from the Black World Repertory, edited by Paul Carter Harrison, Grove Press)

Drama: Act I, Cass (30s)

Cass is a reclusive woman who lives in a Memphis rooming house across the street from the motel where Martin Luther King will soon stay. As history will show, he will also die there. In this haunting speech, Cass tells I. W. Harper, a security agent who has been sent to check out the motel for King, why she is afraid that someone is pursuing her. Start: “I was leaving that department store on Main Street where the old Gayoso Hotel used to be.” End: “When I awoke, a man’s hand was around my throat.”

ANNA CHRISTIE

by Eugene O’Neill (Anna Christie, The Emperor Jones, The Hairy Ape; Vintage Books)

Drama: Act III, Anna (20)

In an impassioned speech, Anna confesses to Mat and her father, who believe she had been reared as an innocent farm girl, that she has in fact been a prostitute. You’ll have to piece together the monologue a bit, but it works. Cut the men’s few lines and Anna’s direct responses to them. Start: “It was one of them cousins that you think is such nice people—the youngest son—Paul—that started me wrong.” End: “Like hell you will. You’re like all the rest.”

ANOTHER ANTIGONE

by A. R. Gurney, Jr. (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 37–39, Judy (early 20s)

Judy Miller is a college senior who has written a modern antiwar adaptation of the Greek drama Antigone, but the Professor of Classics has refused to accept it for grading. In defiance, she has mounted a campaign for a university production of her play, causing factions for and against her to form on campus. In the scene leading up to this monologue, Judy learned from Diana Eberhart, the dean of Humane Studies, that the professor has agreed to give her a C, which will enable her to graduate on time. Judy won’t accept this, however, opting for a stand on the principle of the issue. When Diana tells Judy that if she doesn’t graduate, she’ll lose the Wall Street job that is awaiting her, Judy lashes out at the older woman with this speech. In it, Judy attacks feminist values in general and the dean personally, positioning herself against what she perceives to be a feminist stereotype. Start: “What’s a job anyway? Is it the most important thing in the world?” End: “And now here I am, about to graduate, or rather not graduate, because I’ve come up with the first vaguely unselfish idea I’ve ever had in my life, and this place, this institution—in which my family has invested at least seventy thousand dollars—won’t give me credit for it.”

APPROACHING ZANZIBAR

by Tina Howe (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act II, pp. 108–110, Olivia (81)

Olivia is a famous avant-garde artist living in Taos, New Mexico. She delivers this speech on her deathbed to her nine-year-old great-niece. Olivia is a crusty old woman, full of life, energy, and fun, and this definitely isn’t a last-gasp kind of monologue. At the end of the speech, Olivia and the girl start jumping up and down on the bed. Start: “I was on a train somewhere between Paris and Tangier.” End: “I thought my heart would burst. Zanzibar!”

BAD HABITS

by Terrence McNally (1990 revised edition, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: “Dunelawn,” pp. 24–25, Dolly (late 20s)

Dolly tells Dr. Pepper why she and her husband, Harry, have been trying to kill each other. According to Dolly, Harry is compulsive, worries too much, reads road signs out loud, and follows her around with coasters. Start: “His hobby is tropical fish. I hate tropical fish.” End: “That incident with the lawn mower was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

BETWEEN DAYLIGHT AND BOONVILLE

by Matt Williams (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 35–36, Marlene (30s)

Trying to prove that she and Big Jim have bigger fights than Carla and Larry, Marlene describes one humdinger they had when they wound up throwing every stick of furniture out in the yard. Start: “This one time, before the kids were born, Big Jim was workin’ construction before goin’ to work for the company.” End either: “Left everything in the yard and went up and went to bed.” Or: “Don’t never go to bed angry.”

BLUE WINDOW

by Craig Lucas (Samuel French)

Drama: Scene 3, pp. 62–65, Libby (33)

Libby tells Norbert about the accident in which she and her new husband fell from a seventh-floor New York apartment balcony. She was seriously injured, and he was killed. You’ll have to piece together the monologue to make it work. Start: “When I first came to New York?” End: “I’m thirty-three years old. I can’t have anybody hold me. I can never be held.”

BOSOMS AND NEGLECT

by John Guare (revised edition, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act One, pp. 35–36, Deirdre (30s)

Deirdre describes the violent event that landed her in long-term psychotherapy. It involved the breakup of a romance. She hit the guy on the head with an ashtray, which sent his lighted match sailing into some Orlon pajamas that in turn caused the suitcase on the bed to catch fire. She called 911. Start: “…This married person sat in a hotel room and told me this person is going back to their mate.” End: “…and in a secret way found Dr. James and have been going to him every day since that day.” (Cut Scooper’s single line on p. 36.)

Comedy-Drama: Act One, pp. 66–68, Henny (83)

Henny is dying and blind but still has a mouth on her. She’s a caustic, lovable old New York broad in every sense of the word. This monologue is the final speech in the play. In workshop, you can go ahead and do the whole thing; for audition purposes, I suggest you cut it down by half. For auditioning, you might want to eliminate the blindness in the character. A trait like that can upstage an audition if you are not careful. For an audition cut, I suggest starting about a third of the way into the speech and going to the end. Start: “We loved each other. I felt my father in heaven was paying attention to me…” End: “…I want that for you…”

BURN THIS

by Lanford Wilson (Hill & Wang/Noonday; HarperCollins Canada, Ltd.)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Anna (32)

Anna tells Larry what a disaster Robbie’s wake was, especially since no one in Robbie’s family seemed to know that he was gay and presumed she was his girlfriend. And then, to top it off, she had to sleep in a bedroom that contained a collection of butterflies pinned to the wall. Cut Larry’s lines and Anna’s direct responses to them. Start: “In about eight seconds I know they have no idea that Robbie’s gay.” End: “There’s these two bag ladies yelling at each other, apparently they’re rivals. I fit right in.”

CANDIDA

by George Bernard Shaw (Signet)

Comedy-Drama: Act III, Candida (33)

This speech, in which Candida chooses between her husband and the lovesick young poet, Marchbanks, comes at the end of the play. In it, she firmly establishes herself as a strong, fiercely independent woman. She decides that she’ll stay with her husband, “the weaker of the two,” not out of duty and obligation, but out of free choice. You’ll have to cut and paste the speech a bit, but it will make an excellent monologue, particularly if you want to demonstrate your command of language and breath. Shaw requires a lot of breath, as does Shakespeare. Start: “I give myself to the weaker of the two.” End: “I am mixing up your beautiful cadences and spoiling them, am I not, darling?”

CHAPTER TWO

by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 7, pp. 119–121, Jennie (32)

Jennie tells off her new husband, George, for putting her in the untenable position of having to compete with the memory of his recently deceased first wife. This is a very strong, stop-you-in-your-tracks kind of speech. Start: “You know what you want better than me, George.” End: “Sometimes I don’t know when to stop talking. For that I’m sorry, George, and I apologize. I am now through!”

CHEATERS

by Michael Jacobs (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 15–16, Grace (50)

Grace and Sam met in a movie theater earlier tonight, felt electricity, and have guiltily made their way to a motel room, complete with X-rated movies on the television. They begin an affair, the first for each of them. Here, Grace recalls the first time she ever went to bed with a man. Actually, she is stalling because she is quite nervous about cheating on her husband. Begin with Grace singing “Amazing Grace” or start: “I was remembering the first time I ever went to bed with a man—I was almost twenty years old.” End: “What could I tell them? I didn’t feel a thing.”

COASTAL DISTURBANCES

by Tina Howe (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 5, pp. 54–55, Holly (24)

Holly exuberantly fantasizes about what the world would have been like if dolphins had legs and behaved like people. The more she talks, the more amused she becomes with herself. Cut Leo’s lines and Holly’s direct responses to them. Start: “You know what I read in a book? That the island of Atlantis was really inhabited by dolphins.” End: “Boy, do I feel weird…I’m so light-handed all of a sudden…I mean, headed.”

COLORED MUSEUM, THE

by George C. Wolfe (Grove Press)

Comedy-Drama: “The Party,” Topsy Washington (20–30)

Topsy comes on funky, dancing. She describes a wild party she went to uptown the other night and how that party is always going on in her brain. Whenever she walks down the street, she sashays all over the place “’cause I’m dancing to the music of the madness in me.” This is a truly stunning, show-stopping speech for the right actress. It requires a lot of boldness. Start, “Yoho! Party! Party!” End: “So, hunny, don’t waste your time trying to label or define me ’cause I’m not what I was ten years ago or ten minutes ago. I’m all of that and then some. And whereas I can’t live inside yesterday’s pain, I can’t live without it.”

Comedy-Drama: “Lala’s Opening,” Lala (30–45)

Lala is a famous opera singer and something of a flamboyant character. This is a good monologue for an actress who can do a French accent and sing a bit—just a bit. You don’t have to be an opera singer. Fine audition material in the right hands, not for beginners. Start: “Yes, it’s me! Lala Lamazing Grace!” End: “I am going away.”

COMANCHE CAFÉ

by William Hauptman (revised edition, Comanche Café and Domino Courts; Samuel French)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 10–11, Mattie (40–50)

Mattie gently tells Ronnie, who is younger and very unsophisticated, what it is like to make love with a man who is special to you. Drawing on a finely etched memory, she describes her most loving adventure in precise detail. Cut Ronnie’s lines and Mattie’s direct responses to them. Start: “When we started driving that morning…” End: “You’re still young. But one day everything’s happened. Then the night’s no different from the day.”

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 12–13, Ronnie (teens to early 20s)

Ronnie has a humorously distorted idea of what the world is like because she has never left her small Oklahoma town. In fact, she has gotten all her information from movie magazines and cheap tabloids. In this very funny speech, Ronnie tells Mattie about the strange and wonderful places she intends to visit. Start: “I’ll never be like you…There’s a whole mysterious country out there.” End: “Just let me go anyplace but here—in Oklahoma.”

COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA

by William Inge (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 4, pp. 75–76, Lola (39)

In this moving speech, which comes at the very end of the play, Lola tells her husband about a dream she had last night in which he was a hero and their dog, Little Sheba, died. Eliminate Doc’s lines and Lola’s direct responses to them. Start: “You know what, Doc? I had another dream last night.” End: “We got to go on. Now isn’t that strange?”

COME BACK TO THE FIVE AND DIME, JIMMY DEAN, JIMMY DEAN

by Ed Graczyk (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 67–71, Mona (30s)

As she has done many times before, Mona tells the story of how she came to make love with James Dean on the set of the movie Giant many years earlier. This is a fantasy of course, but she has embroidered it and believes in it deeply. You’ll have to cut, paste, and alter some lines to make the speech work, but the result is worth the effort. Wonderfully poetic. Start: “It was like a regular parade. People from all over these parts headed for Marfa, bumper to bumper, to be in that movie.” End: “We spent that whole entire night together…until the sun started to peek out from over the edge of the earth, turnin’ the sky into the brightest red I ever saw.” For a shorter audition-length excerpt, start: “That night, I laid there in the back seat of the Buick and kept thinkin’ about how I was chosen above all them thousands of others.” End in the same place.

Drama: Act II, pp. 82–83, Joanne (30s)

At this point, everyone knows that Joanne is really Joe, who has undergone a sexchange operation. In this speech, which you’ll have to cut and paste, Joanne talks about an interlude she had with Lester T. a couple of years earlier. It transpires that he’d abandoned his lover, and Joanne’s friend, Sissy because she had a mastectomy. Start: “I went there with the intention of seeing you…I had heard you were living there and thought I would show up on your doorstep.” End: “…one day the watermelons just disappeared…went away, and…so did (he).”

CROSSING DELANCEY

by Susan Sandler (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, p. 69, Bubbie (80s)

Bubbie is a Jewish grandmother who lives on the Lower East Side of New York but still has one foot in the old country. She has employed a matchmaker to cook up a romance between her granddaughter, Isabelle, and Sam the pickle-maker. After some false starts, the romance has taken off and this very sweet speech is directed toward Sam. Bubbie tells him how she came to marry Shiah, a tailor’s son, and that she intends to dance at Sam’s wedding. Start: “You’re some big-time operator, Sammy.” End: “You’ll buy the schnapps. We’ll have a good time.”

DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA

by John Patrick Shanley (Dramatists Play Service) (13 by Shanley, Applause Books)

Drama: One-act play, Scene 2, Dramatists Play Service pp. 26–27, Roberta (31)

Roberta, an emotionally complex but undereducated woman, tells Danny about a dream she once had while under the influence of opium. She dreamed of the deep blue sea and of whales jumping out of the water all around her. Then they stopped, and the sea was calm. Start: “There’s boats right up by Westchester Square.” End: “…’cause I knew it had all them whales in it.”

DAY IN THE DEATH OF JOE EGG, A

by Peter Nichols (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 28–29, Sheila (35)

While speaking about Josephine, her spastic daughter, Sheila tells the audience about something that took place nine years ago. This event caused Sheila and her husband, Bri, to believe that their daughter had a will of her own. The celebration was brief, however, because Josephine had another grand-mal seizure and regressed. This is a lovely speech that illustrates a mother’s unconditional love. Start: “I join in these jokes to please him.” End: “Perhaps it’s being a woman.”

DEATH AND THE MAIDEN

by Ariel Dorfman (Penguin)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, Paulina (40)

Paulina tells her husband, Gerardo, what kind of revenge she seeks against Roberto for raping and torturing her. Cut Gerardo’s lines and Paulina’s direct responses to them. Start: “When I heard his voice last night, the first thought that rushed through my head, what I’ve been thinking all these years…” End: “That’s what I want.”

DEATH OF A SALESMAN

by Arthur Miller (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 40–42, Linda (late 50s)

Linda tells her sons why their father is a good man, why she loves him. To construct this monologue, omit Biff and Happy’s lines and Linda’s direct responses to them, and then rewrite around them. This can be a powerful monologue if you patch it together the right way. Start: “I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money.” End: “When does he get a medal for that?”

DELICATE BALANCE, A

by Edward Albee (Samuel French)

Drama: Act III, pp. 81–82, Agnes (late 50s)

Family friends Harry and Edna have moved into an upstairs bedroom, apparently intending to live there permanently, an intrusion that has brought Agnes’s family to the edge of hysteria and violence. She contends that Harry and Edna have brought “the plague” with them, a “disease” to which only a few are immune. Powerful speech. You’ll have to piece it together, cutting out the other characters’ lines, but it works. Start: “Thank you, Claire. I was merely waiting—until I’d heard, and thought a little, listened to the rest of you.” End: “Or shall we burn them out, rid ourselves of it all…and wait for the next invasion. You decide, my darling.”

DIVISION STREET

by Steve Tesich (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, p. 25, Dianah (30s)

Dianah, still marching after all these years, tells her adoring Legal Aid lawyer, Sal, how exciting her ex-husband, Chris Adrian, used to be when he led the protest movement. In her eyes, he was a cross between Che Guevara and Chuck Mangione, smelling of mimeo ink and Cuban cigars, standing like a titan with a bullhorn in his hands. According to Dianah, Chris was beautiful. This is a difficult comic monologue but can be a showstopper if played full tilt. Cut Sal’s lines and Dianah’s direct responses to them. Start: “We met in Chicago.” End: “I let his spark die…The flame of the rebel became a charcoal lighter on the Bar-B-Que Pit of History.”

DREAM GIRL

by Elmer Rice (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 12–14, Georgina (23)

As Georgina dresses for work and puts on her makeup, she talks to herself in the mirror, assessing her life, her physical assets, the status of her unpublished novel, and the possibility that she is too much of a daydreamer. Start: “All right, Mother. I’m practically dressed.” End: “Well, if I’m going to play with fire, I may as well look my best. So here goes.”

DUET FOR ONE

by Tom Kempinski (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, Session 2, p. 13, Stephanie (33)

Stephanie is a world-famous violinist whose career was cut short by multiple sclerosis. She tells her psychiatrist, Dr. Feldmann, how she met her husband, who is a prominent composer. She happily describes the evening he approached her after one of her concerts and they played an impromptu Beethoven duet backstage. Stephanie relates the story through rose-colored glasses, however, and the last line is a leveler. Omit Feldmann’s one-line interruption. Written in the British vernacular. Start: “It was lovely, actually. I was at the BBC.” End: “The papers called it a fairy story, but it wasn’t…Fairy stories don’t happen, do they?”

ECCENTRICITIES OF A NIGHTINGALE, THE

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, p. 17, Alma (25–29)

Alma itemizes for her father the many community services she performs. Start: “Father, I do all I can. More than I have the strength for. I have my vocal pupils.” End: “Oh, I’ve had to bite my tongue so much it’s a wonder I have one left.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, p. 41, Alma (25–29)

It is 2 A.M., and Alma is having a panic attack. Her feelings were hurt by John’s earlier departure from her “group” where he was an invited guest. She knows now that he left on a false pretense. A moment ago, John told her that she is lonely, a diagnosis that made her angry. In this speech, Alma accuses him of avoiding her and her “eccentric” friends and of planning to marry a “Northern beauty” someday. This is a difficult speech because Alma is distraught, and you don’t want it to degenerate into a rant. Keep in mind that she feels like a woman scorned, even though she and John have never been intimate. Eliminate John’s lines. Start: “Oh, how wise and superior you are! John Buchanan, Junior, graduate of Johns Hopkins, magna cum laude!” End: “But everything perfect and regular as the tick of that—clock!”

Drama: Act III, Scene 1, Alma (25–29)

In what is probably the most significant monologue in the play, Alma confesses to John that she has always loved him and that she has fantasized about being intimate with him. You’ll have to cut and paste, eliminating John’s lines. Start with: “Oh, I always say too much or say too little. The few young men I’ve gone out with have found me…” or “Look. My ring has cut my finger. No! I shall have to be honest! I can’t play any kind of a game!” End: “Would I have sprung from my seat, or would I have stayed?” (This monologue doesn’t appear in the Dramatists Play Service acting edition. You can, however, find it in earlier library compilations.)

Drama: Epilogue, pp. 54–55, Alma (25–29, playing mid-to-late 30s)

John is long gone from Alma’s life, and she has turned into a lonely woman, seeking comfort from occasional involvement with traveling salesmen. In this speech, she describes the landmarks in Glorious Hill. Each one Alma mentions has particular meaning to her at this point in her life, which is the key to playing the piece. When she tells one salesman about that part of the city known as “Tiger Town,” she is making a thinly veiled proposition. You’ll have to cut and paste a bit, eliminating the man’s lines. Start: “Sit down and I’ll point out a few of our historical landmarks to you.” End: “Tiger Town, it’s the part of town that a traveling salesman might be interested in. Are you interested in it?” or “Oh!—There goes the first skyrocket! Look at it burst into a million stars!”

ECHOES

by N. Richard Nash (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 23–24, Tilda (20–25)

Tilda and Sam share a room in a mental institution. In this speech, she tells him how she first started inventing imaginary friends and how the doctor (“The Person”) caused her to drive them away. Omit Sam’s single line. Start: “When I first came here, there was nobody here.” End: “…and one day I opened my eyes a little…and you were there…and you’ve never hurt me…and never gone away.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 51–52, Tilda (20–25)

Tilda, afraid that Sam is edging too close to sanity (in which case he will leave the hospital), passionately warns him about the doctor’s therapeutic tricks and the false values that await him outside. Start: “Now listen to me, Sammy. Don’t you see what the technique is?” End: “And you’ll be right back there, where you started from…playing a part that somebody assigned you…making other people’s motions because you’re too frightened to be still.”

EDUCATING RITA

by Willy Russell (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 7, pp. 31–32, Rita (26)

Frank invited his student Rita to a dinner party at his place last night, but she was embarrassed by her lower-class origins and didn’t show up. In the morning, during their regular session, she explains what happened and makes a new commitment to improving herself. Written in the lower-class British vernacular, which is important to Rita’s portrayal. Cut Frank’s single line. Start: “I’m all right with you, here in this room; but when I saw those people you were with, I couldn’t come in.” End: “…and that’s why I came back. And that’s why I’m staying.”

EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE-MOON MARIGOLDS

by Paul Zindel (Bantam)

Drama: Act I, Beatrice (30s)

Although this telephone conversation is not, strictly speaking, a monologue, it presents unique challenges and is particularly well written. Beatrice is talking to and flirting with Mr. Goodman, her daughter’s high-school science teacher. Start: “Hello. Yes it is. Who is this?…I hope there hasn’t been any trouble at school.” End: “It’s been a true pleasure speaking with you. Goodbye.”

Drama: Act I, Beatrice (30s)

This is another telephone conversation between Beatrice and Mr. Goodman. She is concerned about the radiation-exposed marigold seeds her daughter brought home. Start: “Hello—Mr. Goodman, please…How would I know if he’s got a class?” End: “You know, really, our schools need more exciting young men like you. I really mean that. Really. Oh, I do. Goodbye, Mr. Goodman.”

Drama: Act I, Beatrice (30s)

Beatrice has just calmed down her daughter after the latter has had a violent nightmare, and they’re talking about Beatrice’s childhood. You’ll have to do some cutting and pasting, but the result is a very textured monologue. Eliminate Ruth’s lines. Start: “My father made up for all the other men in this whole world, Ruth. If only you two could have met.” End: “I see the face of my father and my heart stands still.”

EMPRESS OF CHINA

by Ruth Wolff (Broadway Play Publishing)

Drama: Act I, Tzu-Hsi (60s)

In this short speech, Tzu-Hsi tells the Pearl Concubine Ying how she came to seize the reins of power; she started out as a dutiful wife but found it necessary to take charge because of her ineffectual husband. Start: “When I first came to this palace, I was ready to be the perfect feminine complement to my masculine lord.” End: “Where are the women today who would dare what I dared? They do not exist!”

Drama: Act II, Tzu-Hsi (60s)

Having elevated herself to the throne, Tzu-Hsi refuses to receive the British ambassador because she hates all that Britain stands for. In an unusual charade carried out with a costumed actor, she demonstrates for Li Lien-Ying, the Chief Eunuch, and General Jung Lu, how she would speak to the ambassador if she were to see him. Playing out the scene with actor Shen Tai, who is dressed as Sir Claude MacDonald, she blasts the British for their imperialistic ways in China. Start: “White Christians! What you are saying is we should become prejudiced, intolerant and despotic—like you.” End: “We were here long before you existed, and long after you are gone we shall remain.”

EQUUS

by Peter Shaffer (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 23, p. 69, Dora (37–43)

Dora implores her son’s psychiatrist to understand that parents aren’t merely instigators of psychological problems in their children. She is confused by and ashamed of her young son’s awful actions, but she loves him deeply. This is a very powerful and moving selection. Start: “Look, Doctor: you don’t have to live with this.” End: “I only know he was my little Alan, and then the Devil came.”

FATHER’S DAY

by Oliver Hailey (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, p. 17, Louise (30–35)

In her black-humor style, Louise tells Marian and Estelle how awful her marriage was, how she and Tom tried to kill each other all the time, and why they got a divorce. Eliminate the brief interruptions by Marian and Estelle. Start: “Marian, I’m going to explain divorce to you one more time.” End: “When I say that is why we get divorced.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 60–61, Estelle (25–30)

At the end of the play, Estelle sums up her philosophy on family life and vows not to hate Harold, even though he is remarrying. Start: “I admire Marian very much.” End: “Marian doesn’t hate. I’m not going to either. I wish you wouldn’t.”

FENCES

by August Wilson (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 67–68, Rose (43)

After Troy tells Rose that he made another woman pregnant, she tells him why she has stayed with him for eighteen years. Start: “I been standing with you! I been right here with you, Troy.” End: “You take…and don’t even know nobody’s giving!”

Drama: Act II, Scene 5, pp. 90–91, Rose (43)

When Cory informs his mother that he doesn’t intend to go to Troy’s funeral, Rose tells him why he should respect his father and why she loved him. Start: “You can’t be nobody but who you are, Cory.” End: “And if the Lord see fit to keep up my strength…I’m gonna do her just like your daddy did you…I’m gonna give her the best of what’s in me.”

FOB

by David Henry Hwang (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 33–34, Grace (20)

Grace, a first-generation Chinese American, describes her unsuccessful childhood efforts to blend in with the white children. Start: “Yeah. It’s tough trying to live in Chinatown.” End: “So I drove home.”

FOX, THE

by Allan Miller (based on D. H. Lawrence’s novel, Samuel French)

Drama: Act III, Scene 2, p. 71, Jill (29)

Jill tries to convince Nellie not to marry the strange young soldier who has come to live with them. Written in the British vernacular, but you may want to convert it to American English. Start: “Listen to me, Nellie, please.” End: “Call it off. Call it off before it’s too late!”

FRANKIE AND JOHNNY IN THE CLAIR DE LUNE

by Terrence McNally (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, pp. 43–44, Frankie (40)

Frankie tells Johnny about how when she was a young girl her grandmother would come into her room and close the blinds at night. A truly lovely speech. Frankie can speak Johnny’s line: “It’s supposed to make them romantic.” Cut Johnny’s second line that interrupts the speech. Start: “I’ve always been very suspicious of what moonlight does to people.” End: “I just want my Nana back.”

GETTING OUT

by Marsha Norman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 9–10, Arlie (20s)

Arlie is southern, tough, streetwise, and just out of prison. Here, she talks about the time she and her young friends threw another child’s pet frogs at cars. Start: “So, there was this little kid, see, this creepy little fucker next door.” End: “I never had so much fun in one day in my whole life.”

GINGERBREAD LADY, THE

by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 52–54, Toby (40)

Toby tells Jimmy and Evy that her husband wants a divorce, that he isn’t interested in her sexually anymore. Then she recites her impressive sexual resumé. Cut Jimmy and Evy’s lines and Toby’s direct responses to them. Start: “Martin has grown accustomed to my face…accustomed to my voice.” End: “Then let him get out, I don’t need him!”

Comedy-Drama: Act III, p. 68, Toby (40)

Evy arrived back in her apartment a few moments ago, hungover and sporting a black-and-blue eye. Her daughter, Polly, and her good friend, Toby, were anxiously waiting for her. Relieved by the knowledge that Evy is at least safe after being gone all night, Toby lashes out at her for being so self-destructive, and for not owning up to who and what she really is. Cut Evy’s line. Start: “Damn you, Evy. Damn you for being so goddamned honest all the time. Who needs the truth if this is what it gets you?” End: “That’s the first time in my entire life I ever told anyone off. I think I’m going to be sick.”

GLASS MENAGERIE, THE

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Scene 6, pp. 43–44, Amanda (40s)

Amanda enters, wearing “a girlish frock of yellowed voile with a blue silk sash…carrying a bunch of jonquils,” all in preparation for the arrival of Laura’s gentleman caller. In this monologue, Amanda tells Laura the history of the dress. Start: “Now, Laura. Just look at your mother.” End: “I hope they get here before it rains.”

HEIDI CHRONICLES, THE

by Wendy Wasserstein (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act II, Scene 4, pp. 59–62, Heidi (playing 37)

The occasion is a 1986 luncheon for Miss Crain’s School East Coast Alumnae Association at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, and Dr. Heidi Holland, a prominent art historian, is the featured speaker. She talks extemporaneously about how the women’s movement has fragmented. This monologue is far too long for audition use, but it is so succinct, intelligent, and well constructed that it is wonderful for the workshop. Start: “Hello. Hello.” End: “Thank you.”

HELLO AND GOODBYE

by Athol Fugard (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 46–47, Hester (late 30s)

Hester tells her brother how frightened their mother was and then recalls what it was like to see their mother’s body in a casket. You’ll have to piece together this monologue a bit, eliminating Johnny’s lines. Hester is a white Afrikaner, so an accent is appropriate. Start: “What did you know about her? You wasn’t even five years when she died.” End: “There was something I wanted to do, but it was too late.”

HOOTERS

by Ted Tally (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 6, pp. 64–65, Cheryl (25)

This monologue is probably the redeeming moment in Hooters. Cheryl has been running away from adulthood and all its implications. She allowed herself to be picked up and taken to bed by a hot and horny nineteen-year-old guy at the beach, who, after the lovemaking, told her he loved her. Now he is asleep on Cheryl’s arm, and she talks to him even though he can’t hear her. With true insight, she speaks of her history as a sex object and says she intends to stop being one. For audition purposes, simply wake the boy up and talk to him. You always want to talk to someone who can hear you. Start: “Hey, Clint. You file your shirts in the closet?” End: “So hey!…Welcome to the top.”

HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES, THE

by John Guare (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 9–10, Bunny (late 30s)

Bunny, who tends to talk nonstop, tells Artie about the wonderful excitement along the parade route where the Pope will soon travel. Start: “Oooo, it’s freezing out there. Breath’s coming out of everybody’s mouth like a balloon in a cartoon.” End: “…like a burglar’s torch looking all through the sky—Everybody’s waiting, Artie—everybody!”

Comedy: Act I, pp. 12–13, Bunny (late 30s)

Bunny gleefully tells Artie how she plans to get the Pope’s attention as he passes by in the parade so that he will perform a marriage ceremony for the two of them. Start: “Miss Henshaw’s saving us this divine place by the cemetery so the Pope will have to slow down.” End: “And nobody’ll believe it. Oh, Artie, tables turn.”

HOW I LEARNED TO DRIVE

by Paula Vogel (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: pp. 44–45, Aunt Mary (30s)

You’ll notice that, in the script, Aunt Mary is portrayed by a member of the play’s “Greek Chorus.” Never mind about that, just play it as Aunt Mary, a woman who is convinced her husband is behaving inappropriately with his high-school-aged niece. Start: “My husband was such a good man—is.” End: “I am counting the days.”

HURLYBURLY

by David Rabe (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 93–95, Bonnie (late 30s)

Bonnie talks about a phone conversation she had earlier in the day with a strange guy. Building on the theme that cocaine is superior to est as a mood enhancer, she says that she finally hung up on the man. This impassioned, mentally frenetic monologue would be wonderful for auditions if est and cocaine weren’t so passé. Still, it is a toot to work on. Start: “I’m telling this guy on the phone that drugs are and just have been as far as I can remember, an ever-present component of my personality.” End: “…and slam down the phone and hang it up.”

HUSBANDRY

by Patrick Tovatt (Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, Scene 2, pp. 27–28, Dee (55)

Dee gets a little tight and tells her son Harry that his aging father is having a tough time running the family farm. Her objective is to convince Harry to take it over. You’ll have to change or cut a line here and there, but the monologue works. Eliminate Harry’s lines, and connect Dee’s speeches. Start: “…Les and I had a humdinger of a fight.” End: “I think this one more year business is the silliest thing I ever heard of.”

IN THE BOOM BOOM ROOM

by David Rabe (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, pp. 39–40, Susan (25–35)

Susan, who is a lesbian, tells Chrissy about the time she shot her high-school football-hero boyfriend. Start: “All through my sophomore year in high school, I was in love with a boy and we were sleeping together.” End: “It’s somethin’, though, how once you shoot a man, they’re none of them the same any more, and you know how easy, if you got a gun, they fall down.”

Drama: Act II, p. 104, Chrissy (early 20s)

Chrissy, a very unsophisticated young woman, summons up her courage and tells her abusive husband, Al, that she thinks she is going crazy. The tension escalates as she accuses him of being a lousy sex partner. Short, venomous, graphic sexual language. Start: “Listen to me what I’m saying!” End: “Am I making myself clear, Big Al?”

I STAND BEFORE YOU NAKED

by Joyce Carol Oates (Samuel French)

Drama: “Little Blood Button,” Girl (20s)

A prostitute addresses the audience, complaining about the blood blister on her lip, a result of the too-intense lovemaking she engaged in the previous night. About midway into this sexually graphic speech, she shifts into a provocative one-on-one mode, presumably talking to the man who did this to her. Appropriate for sophisticated actresses. Start: “One of you’s to blame—I could name which!” End: “That’s the God’s honest truth, guaranteed. Says so on the label.”

Drama: “The Boy,” Woman (30s)

A substitute public-school teacher addresses the audience, telling them about the romance she struck up with a teenage boy. She took him to a motel, they drank, and she got turned on, but he was impotent. This sexually graphic speech is appropriate for sophisticated actresses. Start: “This boy named Kit—soon as I started subbing for his class he pestered me with love, called out ‘Hey, good-lookin’ on the street, eyeing me every chance he could.” End: “…he was laughing too, maybe he was crying, nose running like a baby’s, and I just lay there thinking, All right, kid, all right, you bastards, this is it.”

IT HAD TO BE YOU

by Renée Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 9–11, Theda (28–35)

Rushing into an audition for a commercial, Theda nervously rambles through her life story, crying, laughing, dancing and singing. (By the way, this could never ever happen at a real-world commercial audition. But never mind. The routine Theda goes through is hysterically funny.) This monologue can be a showstopper if you play it for all it’s worth. It is very New York. Start: “I had to get up early to go to a funeral this morning.” End: “I have the power to make my dreams come true. It’s not too late for me.”

JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE

by August Wilson (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 95–97, Molly (22)

Molly tells Mattie why she doesn’t trust men. You’ll have to cut and paste, but this monologue is very effective. Eliminate Mattie’s lines, and adapt a few others. Start: “I don’t trust none of these men, Jack or nobody else.” End: “That’s why I don’t trust nobody but the good Lord above, and I don’t love nobody but my mama.”

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, pp. 111–112, Bertha (40s)

Bertha gives Mattie a pep talk about men and spiritual advisers. Start: “If I was you, Mattie, I wouldn’t go getting all tied up with Bynum in that stuff. That kind of stuff, even if it do work for a while, it don’t last.” End: “You got your time coming. You watch what Bertha’s saying.”

JOINED AT THE HEAD

by Catherine Butterfield (Dramatists Play Service) (Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 1992, Smith & Kraus)

Drama: Act I, Dramatists Play Service pp. 9–11, Maggie (late 30s)

This play takes the form of a narration by Maggie, as she steps into and out of the action. You’ll have to paste together this speech, which is in two pieces. In a very reflective mood, Maggie recalls a walk down a crowded Boston street and how overhearing snippets of the conversations of passersby prompted a philosophical revelation. This isn’t a passionate, showstopper kind of speech, simply an introspective, straightforward, and beautifully written monologue. Start: “I was walking down Newbury Street in Boston on a very brisk, very clear day, late afternoon.” Cut from the end of this speech directly to the beginning of Maggie’s next speech, eliminating the comments of the passersby. Continue with: “Fragments of conversations. Who knows where they were meant to lead?” End: “And convinced that, really, deep down in the truest part of life, we are nobody’s backdrop.”

KATHY AND MO SHOW, THE: PARALLEL LIVES

by Mo Gaffney and Kathy Najimy (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: “Hank and Karen Sue,” pp. 100–101, Karen Sue (28–35)

Set in a country-and-western bar, Hank has been coming on to Karen Sue as he always does, telling her how pretty she is and asking her when she is going to give up that other guy and marry him. Then Hank passes out face down on the bar. At this point, Karen Sue tells the waitress how she would have married him if she thought he was serious. Hell, she would do anything to get her life off the dime. Start: “Yeah, I’d marry him—if I thought he meant a goddam word of what he was sayin.’” End: “I think a nut job is what you call it, Adele. Oh, turn this song up. I love it.”

KEELY AND DU

by Jane Martin (Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, Scene 8, pp. 26–27, Keely (early 30s)

Keely has responded to her antiabortion captor by remaining silent—until now. In this emotional speech, she tears into Du, the grandmotherly woman assigned to care for and guard her; Du has just finished quoting some scripture as justification for Keely’s imprisonment. Cut Du’s lines and Keely’s responses to them. Start: “Hey, I didn’t choose to have this baby.” End: “You’re criminal filth, and I will see to it that you get yours. Now, leave me alone.”

Drama: One-act play, Scene 13, p. 40, Keely (early 30s)

Keely is no longer yelling at her captor, Du, though she is still hoping to escape from her basement prison. After Du graphically describes the horrors of abortion, Keely responds with this quiet, intense speech, trying to explain why she shouldn’t be made to carry this baby to term. Start: “I can’t raise this baby.” End: “So I guess it’s me or the baby, so I guess that’s crazy, but you don’t…I don’t show you…just how…how angry I really am. I don’t. I don’t.”

KEY EXCHANGE

by Kevin Wade (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Scene 3, p. 18, Lisa (late 20s)

Lisa tells her friend Michael about her mother’s death from cancer. This isn’t as macabre a story as it sounds. After relating it, Lisa cracks a joke. Start: “When I was very young, my mother got cancer.” End: “It was a long time before I could even give a decent kiss without somewhere asking myself whether or not this guy would stand outside my window for six months while I died.”

LARK, THE

by Jean Anouilh (adapted by Lillian Hellman, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, pp. 6–7, Joan (18)

Joan is being tried as a heretic. In this speech to the court, she recalls her simple origins, tending sheep in the field. She also explains how she began to hear “voices,” instructions from God to raise an army and fight the British. The speech runs about one-and-a-half pages, but you can easily shorten it. Eliminate Warwick and Cauchon’s lines. Start: “Then I’ll start at the beginning. It’s always nicer at the beginning.” End: “And that was the day I was saddled with France. And my work on the farm.”

Drama: Act II, p. 54, Joan (18)

Now in her prison cell, Joan recants her confession, knowing as she does that she’ll face death by burning at the stake. Start: “And I will wear cast-off brocade and put jewels in my hair and grow old. I will be happy that few people remember my warrior days.” End: “Call your soldiers, Warwick. I deny my confession.”

LAST OF THE RED HOT LOVERS

by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 26–27, Elaine (late 30s)

Barney brought Elaine to his mother’s apartment to have sex. Instead, she tells him off. In this speech, Elaine angrily defends her basic philosophy of life. Start: “You hypocrite!” End: “If you can’t taste it, touch it or smell it, forget it!”

LATER

by Corinne Jacker (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 24–25, Molly (55–65)

Molly’s husband, Malachai, died a year ago, and she and her daughters are gathered at their Rhode Island summer place. Here in the moonlight on the beach, Molly sits alone, in profound pain, remembering the day he died as well as happy times and the distinctive birthmark on his shoulder. She misses Malachai terribly and can’t get him out of her mind. Start: “There’s no privacy in this house.” End: “Well, he’s in the ground. I won’t see it again.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, pp. 35–36, Laurie (35)

Laurie has just finished washing her hair and is laughing with her mother. Alone now in the bathroom, she reflects on how hard it is to sleep now that her father, Malachai, is dead. She tells of lying awake in the night, next to her husband, Norm, listening to him snore and trying to sleep. Then, just as Laurie dozes off, Malachai’s face looms before her, his lips stitched shut, just as she remembers seeing him in the mortuary—and she is awake again. Start: “Hell no…It wouldn’t hurt.” End: “His equipment is definitely no more than half the size of mine.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 37–38, Kate (37–40)

Kate is an expert sailor, thanks to her father, Malachai. She came close to being the boy that her father secretly wanted, and they shared a different kind of bond than he did with her sister. Here, she sits quietly in her anchored sailboat and reflects on the relationship she had with her dad and how she felt after he died. Start: “I can sail.” End: “Well…Katey’s a girl after all.”

LAUGHING WILD

by Christopher Durang (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, Scene 1, pp. 5–6, A Woman (any age)

The woman talks directly to the audience, telling them about a violent encounter she recently had with a man in the supermarket aisle. A short—perhaps one-and-a-half-minute—intense excerpt from a very long speech. This monologue is funny because it is outrageous and because the woman is such a New York character. Start: “I want to talk to you about life.” End: “I’ll take a taxi to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I need to be surrounded with culture right now, not tuna fish.”

LES BELLES SOEURS—REVISED

by Michel Tremblay (translated by John Van Burek and Bill Glassco; Talonbooks, Canada)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Des-Neiges Verrette (40–50)

Des-Neiges Verrette has fallen in love with a door-to-door brush salesman and defensively explains to her friends how that came to happen, confessing how much she needs someone to love. Start: “The first time I saw him I thought he was ugly.” End: “If he goes away, I’ll be all alone again, and I need…someone to love.…I need a man.”

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Angeline Sauv (59)

Angeline reveals, to the horror of the other women, that she has been frequenting a nightclub (read: den of iniquity) for four years. She turns to the audience, justifies these simple pleasures, and then promises not to behave this way anymore. Start: “It’s easy to judge people.” End: “I guess the party’s over.”

Drama: Act II, Rose (44)

A bitter, venomous speech in which Rose condemns men for the way they exercise power over women. According to her, life isn’t like a pretty French movie. In reality, women get pregnant and are lost for life. Rose hates her sex-craving husband, her marriage, all of it. Start: “Life is life and no Goddamn Frenchman ever made a movie about that.” End: “They get grabbed by the throat, and they stay that way, right to the end!”

LIPS TOGETHER, TEETH APART

by Terrence McNally (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, pp. 44–45, Chloe (40)

Chloe is the kind of person who is always being helpful, refilling your cup, and checking to see if you are okay. Her husband just told her to “shut up” and not to talk for six hours. Embarrassed in front of their friends, she defends herself in this speech and then exits toward the house. Start: “Before I go into my six-hour exile…” End: “We’ll have bugs galore. Pussy Galore! Remember her?”

LITTLE FOXES, THE

by Lillian Hellman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, pp. 58–59, Birdie (40)

High-strung Birdie has had just enough of Addie’s elderberry wine to loosen her tongue. She recalls her first big party twenty-two years ago, the one where she met her future husband, Oscar. From the start, Mama didn’t like Oscar, she remembers, and perhaps she should have listened to her mother. Cut Addie’s interruption of the speech. Start: “Mama used to give me elderberry wine when I was a little girl. For hiccups.” End: “And so she had. They were all gone.”

LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT

by Eugene O’Neill (Yale University Press)

Drama: Act III, Mary (54)

In a morphine-induced reverie, Mary tells her maid, Cathleen, what it was like to be young and in love with a famous actor like James Tyrone. As she tells the story, the audience gets a glimpse of the innocent young girl Mary once was. Start: “If you think Mr. Tyrone is handsome now, Cathleen…” End: “It has made me forgive so many other things.”

LOOK HOMEWARD, ANGEL

by Ketti Frings (based on Thomas Wolfe’s novel, Samuel French)

Drama: Act III, pp. 80–81, Laura (23)

For reasons of her own, Laura didn’t tell Eugene that she is engaged to a man in another town, perhaps because she hoped against hope that her relationship with Eugene would work out even though he was too young for her. Their romance blossomed and, less than an hour ago, he asked her to marry him. Believing that she has accepted, Eugene runs off to pack, but Laura knows that she can’t do it. In this speech, she tells Eugene’s irate mother that she won’t marry him and is, in fact, leaving on the afternoon train. Eliminate Eliza’s few lines at the beginning of this scene. Start: “Mrs. Gant, I am not marrying Eugene. I’m not.” End: “Some day you’re going to have to let him go, too. Good-bye, Mrs. Gant.”

LOSS OF ROSES, A

by William Inge (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, p. 74, Lila (32)

Lila’s prospects as an actress are dim, and she has agreed to go to Kansas City and perform in blue movies with her boyfriend. As she prepares to depart, she shares with Helen, who knows nothing of Lila’s future plans, a memory of her first day in the first grade. Lila recalls how she approached the event with childlike innocence and joy, only to be jerked into reality when the teacher slapped her. It was her first major lesson in life. Start: “I remember my first day of school.” End: “There’s so many things I still want back.”

LOST IN YONKERS

by Neil Simon (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 83–84, Bella (35)

Bella grew up with an unnamed learning disability and, in some ways, is childlike. Still, love has found her, and she wants to marry an usher at a local movie theater. She finally gets the courage to ask her stern mother and other family members for their approval. When they respond negatively, Bella yells at them, telling them how much she longs to be in love with someone who will love her back. A very touching speech, not funny at all, which is something unusual for Neil Simon. Start: “You think I can’t have healthy babies, momma?” End: “Hold me.…Somebody please hold me.”

LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS

by Renée Taylor and Joseph Bologna (Samuel French)

Comedy: “Bea, Frank, Richie and Joan,” p. 40, Bea (45–55)

Bea’s son and his wife have surprised everyone by announcing their separation. To head off this catastrophe, Bea takes Joan to the bedroom for a mother-in-law/daughter-in-law chat. This is the funniest of a couple of monologue possibilities. Start: “And Joan, of all the pictures in your wedding album, my favorite is this one.” End: “…and they’re still together.”

LOVE SUICIDE AT SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, THE

by Romulus Linney (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 28–30, Mrs. Bates (34)

In a remarkable monologue that is too long (one-and-a-half pages) for most auditions, Mrs. Bates tells the court how she first met the late general and his wife, how they saved her life, rescued her from a life of prostitution, and introduced her to her current husband. She is grief-stricken by their joint suicide. Start: “I met them first outside Miami, in a place called Slim’s, on Route One.” End: “That’s what they mean to me, the General and his wife.”

LUDLOW FAIR

by Lanford Wilson (Balm in Gilead and Other Plays by Lanford Wilson, Hill & Wang/Noonday)

Comedy: Agnes (20s)

At the very end of this sixteen-page one-act play, Agnes talks to her roommate, who falls asleep in the middle of the speech. After that, she sort of talks to herself and to an imaginary dinner date. Agnes is concerned about the sad state of her love life, and she is trying to get over a bad cold. Fun for classwork. A great deal of detail and subtext. If you are ambitious, you can do the entire two-page monologue. Start: “I don’t know why you should worry any more about Joe than you did about whoever it was before.” For a shorter monologue, start: “You know what Charles looks like? He looks like one of those little model men you make out of pipe cleaners.” End: “I’ve got to quit saying that.”

LUV

by Murray Schisgal (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 29–30, Ellen (early 30s)

In this gloriously dark speech, Ellen explains her dilemma to her new husband, Harry. On one hand, she has a cold, calculating mind that frightens men away and, on the other, she is a woman, warm and passionate. You’ll have to cut and paste quite a bit, eliminating all of Harry’s lines and adjusting Ellen’s responses. Start: “I was lonely, Harry; I was always lonely.” End: “…She loses her dream and…It makes an animal of her, a vicious little creature who thinks only of scratching and biting and getting revenge.”

MARCO POLO SINGS A SOLO

by John Guare (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, p. 29, Diane (30s)

In this wild and woolly monologue, Diane tells Tom about her childhood music training, by now hopelessly interlaced with surreal erotic fantasy. Start: “I really started cookin’ when I was eight.” End: “Diane de la Nova and her Massage Parlor of Melody.”

MATCHMAKER, THE

by Thornton Wilder (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act IV, pp. 109–110, Dolly Levi (40–50)

Dolly Levi has the unsuspecting Horace Vandergelder just about ready to pop the question. Before the big moment, however, she stops—and is alone on stage to talk privately to the spirit of her late husband, explaining to him that she is going to marry for money and that she doesn’t want to remain a recluse. They don’t write them like this anymore. Start: “Ephraim Levi, I’m going to get married again. Ephraim, I’m marrying Horace Vandergelder for his money.” End: “Anyway, that’s the opinion of the second Mrs. Vandergelder.”

MISS MARGARIDA’S WAY

by Roberto Athayde (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: pp. 9–13, Miss Margarida (30–50)

This is a one-woman, two-act play in which the theater audience is treated like an undisciplined, rather stupid eighth-grade class. Miss Margarida instructs, harangues, seduces, and berates the audience members. You can draw excerpts from almost any section. One option is to start at the top of the play where she introduces herself and continue for about two-and-a-half pages. Start: “Good evening to all of you.” End: “There is a very nice nursery rhyme that goes: ‘The deserving ones, who are they? They are those who obey.’”

Another option is to begin where the first selection ends (pp. 13–15), just after Miss Margarida writes the following on the blackboard: “The deserving ones, who are they? They are those who obey.” Her very next line is: “I want to take advantage of this first class.” Continue for about one-and-a-half pages. End: “…any Holy Ghosts in class? None, right? Fuck you then! You can go to hell.”

MRS. WARREN’S PROFESSION

by George Bernard Shaw (Signet Classic)

Drama: Act IV, Mrs. Warren (40–50)

Once Vivie learned that her mother is still operating a chain of brothels, she refused to accept any more money from her. Mrs. Warren visits Vivie, telling her that her Cambridge-education values are false. Omit Vivie’s single line and Mrs. Warren’s direct response to it. Start: “Vivie, listen to me. You don’t understand. You’ve been taught wrong on purpose.” End: “Can’t you see that you’re cutting your own throat as well as breaking my heart in turning your back on me?”

NATURE AND PURPOSE OF THE UNIVERSE, THE

by Christopher Durang (Three Short Plays, Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 24–25, Elaine (25–45)

God has sent Elaine to impersonate the census taker who lambastes Eleanor for leading a “lousy life,” suggesting that she consider suicide. A very funny speech because it is so off-the-wall and demented. Point by point, Elaine tells Eleanor why her life is such a failure. Start: “You phony liar. Your oldest son pushes dope and is a pimp.” End: “Why do you continue living, Mrs. Mann!? Why don’t you do yourself a favor!?”

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 28–29, Elaine (25–45)

Elaine, formerly the census taker and Sister Annie De Maupassant, the radical nun of Bernardsville, is the Pope now. In this speech, she stands on a tabletop and speaks in a grand and holy fashion, sharing her thoughts and insights on the subject of death. Start: “Death comes to us all, my brothers and sisters in Christ.” End: “For we are the little people of the earth, and His is the power and the glory, and never the twain shall meet. Hubb-ba, hubb-ba, hubb-ba.”

’NIGHT, MOTHER

by Marsha Norman (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, p. 50, Jessie (37–43)

Jessie tells her mother why suicide is the best option, explaining how she has lost her identity somewhere along the way. Start: “I am what became of your child.” End:“…so there’s no reason to stay, except to keep you company, and that’s…not reason enough because I’m not…very good company. Am I?”

NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, THE

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, Hannah (39)

Hannah is an unusually perceptive sketch artist who supports herself and her poet grandfather in a hand-to-mouth existence as they travel from tourist resort to tourist resort. In this haunting and poignant speech, she tells Shannon of the beauty—and evidence of God—she has seen in the eyes of the dying in Shanghai. She also mentions that she has recently begun to see that same expression in the eyes of her grandfather. Start: “You see, in my profession I have to look hard and close at human faces in order to catch something in them before they get restless and call out, ‘Waiter, the check, we’re leaving!’” End: “Lately my grandfather’s eyes have looked up at me like that.” (Note: This monologue does not appear in the Dramatists Play Service acting edition. You can, however, find it in earlier library compilations.)

NUTS

by Tom Topor (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 43–44, Rose (60s)

Although her daughter is the accused, Rose behaves as if she were herself on trial. She is defensive about her record as a mother. In this monologue, she begins by telling the court how lovely Claudia’s wedding was. Then she goes into a venomous attack on her former husband, who cheated on her. Cut Claudia’s few lines and Rose’s direct responses to them. Motivate the transitions internally. Start: “Your honor, I know it’s a terrible thing to hear a mother say her daughter is…” End: “That’s how much he loved me: six dollars and thirty-one cents worth.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 75–76, Claudia (early 30s)

Claudia faces the court and graphically outlines her fee structure for various prostitution services. Explicit sexual language. Appropriate for sophisticated actresses. Start: “I get a hundred for a straight lay, a hundred for a hand job.” End: “Do you all get what I’m telling you?”

Drama: Act III, pp. 82–83, Claudia (early 30s)

In answer to the question, “Do you love your mother?,” Claudia tells the court what she thinks about love. An insightful monologue, very well written. Start: “When I was a little girl, I used to say to her, I love you to the moon and down again and around the world and back again.” End: “It’s too much and not enough.”

Drama: Act III, pp. 83–84, Claudia (early 30s)

The final speech in the play is a blast furnace of a monologue. Cut the judge’s lines and Claudia’s direct responses to them. Start: “Wait a second, wait one goddamn second. What is this?” End: “Get it straight: I won’t be nuts for you. Do you get what I’m telling you?”

OLEANNA

by David Mamet (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, pp. 39–40, Carol (20)

Carol accused her professor of sexual harassment, and his flourishing career subsequently has been put on hold. Now the student becomes a demanding teacher as she lectures him on his transgressions. Start: “The issue here is not what I ‘feel.’ It is not my ‘feelings,’ but the feelings of women.” End: “You worked twenty years for the right to insult me. And you feel entitled to be paid for it.”

OTHERWISE ENGAGED

by Simon Gray (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, p. 36, Beth (30s)

Beth has just discovered that her husband, Simon, has known for months that she has been having an affair and that, rather than enjoy her guilt, he opted for silence. In this highly charged monologue, she tells him what she thinks of his deceit. What Simon doesn’t know is that Beth is pregnant, but she doesn’t know who the father is. Written in the British vernacular. Start: “You know the most insulting thing, that you let me go on and on being unfaithful without altering your manner or your behaviour.” End: “Damn. Damn you…Oh, damn…So you might as well listen to your Wagner.”

PAINTING CHURCHES

by Tina Howe (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 72–73, Fanny (60s)

Fanny tells her daughter, an artist, that if she is going to paint the family, to do it truthfully. Start: “…and to you who see him once a year, if that…what is he to you?” End: “If you want to paint us so badly, you ought to paint us as we really are. There’s your picture.”

PIZZA MAN

by Darlene Craviotto (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 75–76, Julie (late 20s)

Julie has become frustrated in her efforts to rape a man. This started as a kind of misdirected lark, but it has turned ugly, almost violent. She complains to her roommate and their potential victim that fairy tales don’t, in fact, exist and that life is a kick in the teeth. Then Julie continues in a bittersweet fashion, describing how she learned that a pretty smile isn’t enough to get you through. Start: “I’m unemployed. I’ve had ten jobs in the last eight years. I live in a crappy one-bedroom apartment.” End: “But can you see what a nice smile it used to be? Can you see how nice things used to be?”

PLAY MEMORY

by Joanna M. Glass (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 76–77, Jean (20)

Jean’s father is an unrepentant alcoholic, evidently intent on destroying his life along with his family’s. Here, Jean tells him how much she loved him when she was a young girl, how much she adored going on a business trip with him. They drove places, saw wild horses, met people, and ate candy. Within the context of the play, the actress is actually in her early teens when she makes this speech. The material can, however, work very well for actresses in their mid-20s. A very touching, beautiful monologue. You’ll have to cut and paste a bit, omitting Cam’s lines and references to the horses being sold for dog food. Start: “I remember the first time I knew I loved you.” End: “I haven’t been able to love you since then, because you’re making me sick.”

PORCH

by Jeffrey Sweet (Samuel French)

Drama: One-act play, p. 34, Amy (early 30s)

Amy resents her widower father for pressuring her to marry and have a family and for continually comparing her unfavorably to the memory of her late brother. In this poignant speech, she talks about the decision she made to have an abortion, how that affected her relationship with her father, and why she resents her brother for dying. Start: “My father’s daughter. That sounds so possessive.” End: “Christ, talk about selfish!”

PRIMARY ENGLISH CLASS, THE

by Israel Horovitz (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 28–29, Debbie Wastba (25–40)

Facing a classroom filled with students who know no English, Debbie tries to introduce herself and explain what is going to happen in class. She has zero sensitivity to other cultures, and that is what makes this speech funny. A blackboard would make a good prop, but you can easily mime that. Start: “Listen, now. I’ll just go really slow. My name is Debbie Wastba.” End: “Now then: Questions?”

PROMISE, THE

by José Rivera (Broadway Play Publishing)

Drama: Act II, Scene 8, Lilia (18)

Lilia’s father, now old and feeble and on his way to a nursing home, listens as she declares her independence from him. She tells him that because he robbed her of the only man she ever loved, she’ll make sure he never knows his future grandchildren. Start: “I talked to the home. You’re getting the one-bedroom on the first floor.” End: “…a broken promise makes us free of each other. You set me free.”

SCENES AND REVELATIONS

by Elan Garonzik (Samuel French)

Drama: Scene 10, pp. 35–36, Helena (25)

It is 1893, and Helena is feeling romantic toward her new farm manager, Samuel. After a scene during which they dance around the questions of commitment and marriage, he asks why she so often sits on the back-porch steps with that air of longing about her. In response, she delivers this speech, telling him about a former love and how he vanished from her life during the period when her father was dying. Helena admits that this took the air right out of her. Start: “There are some things in life, Samuel, that are so private. Things that should…shouldn’t be said to just anyone.” End: “And am as you find me today: Sitting on the back porch. Pulling stems off blades of grass.”

SCENES FROM AMERICAN LIFE

by A. R. Gurney, Jr. (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 32–33, Woman (50 plus)

A nervous resident of an upscale town addresses a neighborhood-council meeting, protesting the potential construction of a fence around the area. The character, an older woman, isn’t used to public speaking and refers frequently to 3 5 5 index cards throughout her speech. Good contemporary, comic material for a Waspy actress. Start: “Um. I want to make three quick points about this whole business of the fence.” End: “I mean, I’m just not sure a fence is the best solution.”

Comedy: Act II, p. 51, Mrs. Hayes (50 plus)

A woman explains to her pianist why she has taken up singing at this late age. Interesting monologue material for the actress who can effectively create the illusion of the pianist. Start: “Before we begin, you probably want to know, don’t you, why I’m taking up singing lessons at my age?” End: “I’m singing my heart out!” You can also try to sing a bar or two and end: “I’m terribly sorry. I’m terribly, terribly sorry.”

SEAGULL, THE

by Anton Chekhov (a new version by Jean-Claude Van Itallie, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act IV, pp. 51–52, Nina (21)

Nina, nervous and hungry, has appeared unexpectedly in Treplev’s study. Ecstatic to see her, he declares his love once again. Nina, however, tells Treplev that she is here for only a moment and that she has accepted a winter acting engagement in a distant province. Suddenly, hearing Trigorin’s voice in the next room, she pulls back and, in this monologue, tells Treplev that she is still in love with Trigorin even though he abandoned her. Nina then explains how she’d lost faith in herself after Trigorin treated her so badly, but now she has found her true self on the stage—and in acting. Somehow, though, her words sound hollow and desperate. Start: “Why did you say you kiss the ground I walk on?” End: “When I think about my work I’m not so afraid of life any more.”

SEA HORSE, THE

by Edward J. Moore (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 51–52, Gertrude (late 30s)

Gertrude describes the events surrounding her father’s death when she was a little girl, her subsequent upbringing, and how she came to own and run The Sea Horse saloon. Although in the context of the play a “big woman” must portray this role, the actress’s size doesn’t matter for this isolated monologue. Start: “I was sitting on the pier one day, doing my homework.” End: “…and I didn’t need…anyone…anymore.”

SHADOW BOX, THE

by Michael Cristofer (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 71–72, Beverly (mid-30s)

Beverly is disgusted by Mark’s self-serving tone as he tells her how he and her ex-husband, Brian, became lovers. When Mark continues to enumerate in graphic and putrid detail the way he has had to care for the dying man these last few months, Beverly levels him with this impassioned speech. Start: “Let me tell you something, as one whore to another.” Cut Mark’s line and Beverly’s direct response to it. End: “My God, why isn’t that ever enough?”

Drama: Act II, pp. 77–78, Maggie (38–45)

Maggie pleads with Joe, her husband, to come home from the hospital, knowing full well he can’t because he is dying. Cut Joe’s line and Maggie’s direct response to it. Start: “For Christ’s sake, don’t make me say things I don’t understand.” End: “I want you to be there because I want you to come home.” Or end: “Come home. That’s all. Come home.”

Drama: Act II, pp. 58–60, Agnes (44–50)

Agnes’s mother, Felicity, seemed to cross over suddenly into old age the day word came that her daughter Claire had been killed in an accident. Felicity’s health deteriorated as she became increasingly despondent. After many months of emotional and financial decline, she began to fantasize that Claire was still alive. That was when Agnes began to write fictitious letters to Felicity, signing Claire’s name to them, hoping they would lift the woman’s spirits. In a poignant speech, Agnes tells the offstage Interviewer why she has deceived her mother. Once you cut and paste, eliminating the Interviewer’s lines, you’ll have a wonderful monologue. Start: “We were very close. Our whole family.” End with Agnes’s admission that she has been writing the letters. Rework her lines and the Interviewer’s so that the material reads: “So…So I’ve been writing these letters for almost two years…You’re not angry with me, are you?”

SHIRLEY VALENTINE

by Willy Russell (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, Scene 1, Shirley (42)

Since Shirley Valentine has only one character, the entire play is a monologue, much of which is literally addressed to the walls of Shirley’s kitchen. For the most part, Shirley talks about past events and although they still affect her, the speeches don’t have enough tension for audition purposes. Still, this is wonderfully rich material, frequently touching. Written in the British vernacular.

You have many excerpts to choose from. You can do the last part of Shirley’s story about having tea with Marjorie Majors. This section begins on a light note and takes an introspective, perhaps tearful turn at the end. Start: “The waitress was just puttin’ the tea an’ cakes on the table.” End:“…who turned me into this? I don’t want this.” For a touching excerpt, try beginning immediately after this point. Start: “Do you remember her, wall? Remember Shirley Valentine? She got married to a boy called Joe.” End: “I’ve always wondered why it is that if somebody says ‘I love you’ it seems to automatically give them the right to treat you worse.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 2, Shirley (42)

This is the only section of the play that finds Shirley in the throes of a dilemma in the present moment. As such, it makes arguably the best material for audition purposes. She is waiting in her kitchen for her friend Jane to pick her up in order to go to the airport and fly to Greece. Start: “Guess where I’m going?” End:“…and keep Joe safe. Please.” For a longer excerpt, continue to this point:“…got hold of a pen an’ wrote, across the wall, in big letters—GREECE.”

SHIVAREE

by William Mastrosimone (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 33–34, Shivaree (20s)

Shivaree tells Chandler how she makes a living as a belly dancer. This character is southern to her toes, apparently rural, displays a sophisticated vocabulary, and is bright, sassy, sexy, and very much in her own energetic orbit—in other words, a free spirit. Start: “Well, sport, you can dance for dance and get a flat rate, or you can dance for tips.” End: “And that’s m’story bub, now where’s this wine?”

SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU

by Christopher Durang (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: One-act play, pp. 30–31, Sister Mary Ignatius (40–60)

This funny play contains a couple of possible monologues, but this is the best because it includes some outrageous Catholic doctrine. The actress should wear a traditional nun’s habit if possible—or at least put a black/gray scarf on her head. Start: “I have your questions here on little file cards.” End: “If you die instantaneously and are unable to say a good act of contrition, you will go straight to hell.”

SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION

by John Guare (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, p. 45, Ouisa (43)

Ouisa has just discovered how the young intruder managed to learn so many personal details of her private family life. This causes her to reflect on how “everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation.” Start: “Can you believe it? Paul learned all that in three months. Three months!” End: “Six degrees of separation between me and everyone else on this planet. But to find the right six people.”

SNOWANGEL

by Lewis John Carlino (Cages, Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act play, pp. 24–25, Connie (mid-to-late 30s)

As dawn approaches and the liquor heightens her reverie, Connie, a prostitute, tells her John about her first love, a Mexican laborer named Paco. He was a gentle man with a special smile. This is really a lovely and well-written monologue. Start: “He came to me while I was workin’ in a house in Stockton.” End: “That’s what I remember, mister. That’s what I imagine.”

STEEL MAGNOLIAS

by Robert Harling (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 66–67, M’Lynn (50ish)

M’Lynn tells her friends about the final hours of her daughter’s life. The monologue is peaceful, accepting, and loving—not a crying scene. Start: “No, I couldn’t leave my Shelby.” End: “It was the most precious moment of my life thus far.”

STILL LIFE

by Emily Mann (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, Scene 4, p. 42, “The Spaghetti Story,” Cheryl (28)

On the surface, this is simply a funny story of a wife trying to cope with her husband’s wild and wacky yearly spaghetti feast for forty of his closest friends. But underneath the surface lies the disturbing edge and manic quality of a woman who is just barely hanging on. The following excerpt is appropriate for audition purposes. Start: “I hate to cook. Probably because he likes to cook.” End: “I can’t take it.”

STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, A

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 2, pp. 67–68, Blanche (early 30s)

A romance between Blanche and Mitch is blossoming, but he doubts his feelings for Blanche because his mother views the union with skepticism. Returning from a date, the lovers flirt in the dim lantern light. Suddenly, Mitch asks Blanche exactly how old she is; this is a dangerous question because Blanche is several years older than she has led him to believe. Afraid that he might be slipping from her grasp, Blanche goes into this story about her long-ago marriage to a boy who turned out to be gay. His ultimate suicide made her very needy for someone exactly like Mitch. Blinded by love, Mitch buys Blanche’s story completely. Start: “He was a boy, just a boy, when I was a very young girl.” End: “And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light stronger than this kitchen candle.…”

SUBJECT WAS ROSES, THE

by Frank D. Gilroy (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, Scene 3, p. 64, Nettie (45)

Nettie tells her son how she came to marry his father. Tinged now with bitterness and regret, she still can remember the appeal her husband had as a young man. A good monologue, with plenty of subtext. Start: “I think it was his energy…a certain wildness. He was not like my father at all.” End: “The baker from Paterson was all tongue-tied outside, but in the home he would have been beautiful…Go to bed now.”

SUMMER AND SMOKE

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Part I, Scene 1, pp. 17–18, Alma (25–29)

Alma has been in love with John since childhood, but they’ve evolved into radically different kinds of adults. She is shy, proper, and nervous, while he is something of a hell-raiser and a rogue. In this speech, motivated by her feelings of unrequited love, Alma blasts John for wasting his considerable talents and his life. Start: “I’m afraid you and I move in different circles.” End: “You know what I call it? I call it a desecration!”

Drama: Part II, Scene 5, p. 73, Alma (25–29)

Alma has come to John’s office to tell him that she’ll sleep with him and that she loves him. When she kisses him, however, he pulls back, explaining that what he now feels for her is spiritual, not physical. In this emotional speech, Alma tells John that she has loved him since childhood. Start: “But I don’t want to be talked to like some incurably sick patient you have to comfort.” End: “Why did you come almost close enough—and no closer?”

SWEET BIRD OF YOUTH

by Tennessee Williams (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 19–20, Princess Kosmonopolis (50–60)

The Princess tells her lover, Chance, about the disastrous Hollywood screening of her “comeback” film. People laughed in the wrong places, and she fled from the theater. Cut Chance’s lines and the Princess’s direct responses to them. Rewrite around Chance this way: “If I could paint deserts and nomads, if I could paint…smoke…but you come after the comeback.” Start: “Stars in retirement sometimes give acting lessons.” End: “Flight, just flight, not interrupted until I woke up this morning.”

Drama: Act I, Scene 1, pp. 25–26, Princess Kosmonopolis (50–60)

Princess Kosmonopolis tells Chance that she can’t be blackmailed, but that she’ll give him money in exchange for sex. You’ll have to cut and paste, eliminating Chance’s lines and rewriting around him. Start: “You are trembling and sweating…you see this part doesn’t suit you.…” End: “I’m sending a young man down with some travelers’ checks to cash for me.…”

TAKEN IN MARRIAGE

by Thomas Babe (Dramatists Play Service)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 19–20, Ruth (late 50s)

At the rehearsal for Annie’s upcoming wedding, her various female relatives chat about what marriage and love actually mean. In this crusty speech, Annie’s Aunt Ruth explains to Annie and the others why she stayed with her late husband for twenty-five years, despite his infidelities. Loyalty, you see, is the key. Start: “I may seem the smallest part of a fool, and Anne and Andrea may think worse, but I’m not.” End: “I want you to remember that, Anne.”

TALKING WITH…

by Jane Martin (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: “Fifteen Minutes,” pp. 7–10, Actress (any age)

An actress spends the final moments before going on stage putting on her makeup and talking to the audience about how strange it is to be part of a theatrical transaction.

Comedy-Drama: “Scraps,” pp. 13–16, Actress (35)

A housewife lives a fantasy life as the Patchwork Girl of Oz, from the seventh Oz book. Each day, after her husband leaves for work and her daughter goes off to high school, she dresses up in her colorful patchwork-quilt outfit and cleans the house. In this monologue, she tells the audience why this escape is necessary for her sanity.

Drama: “Clear Glass Marbles,” pp. 19–22, Actress (20–30)

A woman talks about the final days of her mother’s life. During this monologue, she drops marbles, one at a time, on the floor, symbolizing the passing of each day.

Comedy: “Audition,” pp. 25–27, Actress (late 20s)

An actress goes on stage to audition. She brings a cat on a leash with her. The more she talks, the stranger she seems. She threatens to kill the cat right there if she doesn’t get the job.

Comedy-Drama: “Rodeo,” pp. 31–34, Actress (late 20s)

A woman named Lurlene, former rodeo rider, complains about modern-day merchandising of the rodeo. During this speech, the actress works on a piece of tack.

Comedy-Drama: “Twirler,” pp. 37–40, Actress (20–30)

A young woman wearing a spangled one-piece swimsuit and carrying a baton talks about the glories of being a twirler. She elevates the twirler to the rank of a deity.

Drama: “Lamps,” pp. 43–45, Actress (65)

Surrounded by lamps, perhaps a dozen or so, a woman talks about old age. She turns off the lamps one at a time until, finally, there is darkness.

Comedy: “Handler,” pp. 49–52, Actress (20–30)

Here, a rural woman discusses the pros and cons of religious snake handling.

Drama: “Dragons,” pp. 55–57, Actress (20–30)

This woman is nine months pregnant and in labor as she speaks. Prenatal tests indicated that her baby is abnormal, but she is having it anyway.

Comedy: “French Fries,” pp. 61–63, Actress (60s)

A bag lady rambles on in a funny but touching manner about how wonderful it would be to actually live in a McDonald’s fast-food restaurant. In the middle of her long speech, there is a nice one-and-a-half-minute excerpt that is appropriate for auditions. Start: “I saw a man healed by a Big Mac.” End: “Healed by a Big Mac. I saw it.”

Comedy: “Marks,” pp. 67–69, Actress (early 40s)

A woman talks about all the tattoos on her body. They represent various people and events in her life.

TENTH MAN, THE

by Paddy Chayefsky (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act II, Scene 1, pp. 43–44, The Girl (Evelyn, 18)

This speech begins in a lucid fashion, but midway through the girl stops making sense. She starts by talking about life in the mental institution and shifts into descriptions of her secret life as a movie actress. Probably not a wise choice for auditions, but very good for workshop. Start: “I’m being institutionalized again. Dr. Molineaux’s Sanitarium in Long Island. I’m a little paranoid.” End: “He’s really Mr. Hirschman the Cabalist. He’s making a golem. You ought to come here, Rabbi.”

TOP GIRLS

by Caryl Churchill (Samuel French)

Comedy-Drama: Act I, Scene 1, p. 27, Lady Nijo (30s)

Lady Nijo is one of the historical guests at Marlene’s celebration lunch. Born in 1258, Nijo was the Emperor’s concubine and later a Buddhist nun. In this short speech, she tells how her young lover impregnated her before she became a concubine. The Emperor thought she was four months pregnant when she was actually in her sixth month. When the baby was born, Nijo’s lover, Akebono, cut the cord and took the baby away. Nijo told the Emperor that she had miscarried. Start: “I too was often in embarrassing situations, there’s no need for a scandal.” End: “Then I told the Emperor that the baby had miscarried because of my illness, and there you are. The danger was past.”

TOUCH OF THE POET, A

by Eugene O’Neill (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act IV, Nora (40)

Nora’s husband stormed off hours ago, bent on defending his honor in a duel. Now, at midnight, she is worried that a terrible fate might have befallen him. She confides to her daughter that perhaps this is God’s way of punishing the family. The speech requires a slight Irish brogue. This is a good dramatic monologue for a versatile actress of power and intelligence. Start: “Don’t tell me not to worry. You’re as bad as Mickey.” End: “Oh, if I only had the courage!”

TRIBUTE

by Bernard Slade (Samuel French)

Comedy: Act I, pp. 28–29, Hilary (30s)

Hilary, a former call girl who is now a successful travel agent, speaks to the audience about her affection for and relationship with Scottie Templeton, who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. She explains how he arranged for her former clients to raise the money so that she could start her own travel agency. Start: “Okay, maybe it’s about time I introduced myself.” End: “I’m here for the same reason you are. I love him.”

TWICE AROUND THE PARK

by Murray Schisgal (Samuel French)

Comedy: “A Need for Brussels Sprouts,” pp. 26–28, Margaret (40s)

Margaret is a New York City cop who is mad because her downstairs neighbor plays his opera music too loud. After complaining to him on the telephone to no avail, she puts on her uniform and knocks on his door to issue a summons for disturbing the peace. It turns out that he is a widower, and since she is a single mother, they hit it off in an insulting kind of way. In a very funny speech, she tells him about her awful marriages. This is a good monologue for an actress who has a feel for New York humor. You’ll have to cut and paste, eliminating Leon’s lines. In its entirety, the speech is probably too long for most audition purposes, but it is easy to cut it down. Start: “Three short marriages, huh? You think that’s funny?” End: “…and that, Mr. Rose, is the story of two short marriages that were not so funny.”

VIEUX CARRÉ

by Tennessee Williams (New Directions)

Drama: Part II, Scene 9, Jane (20s)

The story Jane relates in this speech may or not be true. What Tye doesn’t know is that Jane’s blood count has “taken a turn for the worse,” signaling a return of leukemia, and she is deeply depressed. In the preceding scene, Jane has ordered the lowlife Tye out because he has begun shooting heroin again. Then she begins this speech, telling him how she came to meet a wealthy Brazilian in a bar—a man she is expecting momentarily, and a man who will pay for her services. You’ll have to cut and paste a bit, omitting Tye’s lines. Start: “I know what I said, I said a buyer to look at my illustrations, but what I said was a lie.” End: “The bed bit is finished between us. You’re moving out today.”

VITAL SIGNS

by Jane Martin (Samuel French)

Drama: pp. 57–58, “Abortion Lawyer,” Woman (25–40)

Vital Signs is composed of more than thirty monologues for women on a variety of contemporary topics. One particularly intense speech focuses on the abortion issue. A female prosecutor is being replaced by a male attorney in an abortion-clinic protest case. In this speech, she demands that she be the one to try it. Start: “Suitable? No, actually that doesn’t seem ‘suitable’ to me.” End: “You can’t do anything about number one and you are cordially invited to number two, my treat. How about it?”

Drama: p. 79, “Endings,” Woman (25–40)

This monologue is also quite compelling. Here, a woman takes her bag out to the car, intending to leave her companion while he is sleeping. But she can’t do it. Instead, she returns to the house and climbs into the bed with him. Maybe she’ll leave next time. The speech should be directed to the audience. Start: “I sat in the chair by the bed watching him sleep until I ached from sitting and then went out to the toolshed where I had hidden the suitcase.” End: “And as I fell asleep I thought, well, that’s all right, it’s going on then. It’s going on.”

WAITING FOR THE PARADE

by John Murrell (Talonbooks, Canada)

Drama: Scene 14, Catherine (early 30s)

Earlier today, Catherine received word that Billy, her husband, is missing in action in World War II, and she has been hitting the bottle a little heavy ever since as the other women try to comfort her. In this touching speech, she recalls the fights she and Billy had in the early days of their marriage and how those are her most vivid memories. Eliminate Margaret’s line. Start: “When Billy and I were first married—we fought all the time.” End: “Losing him—a little at a time.”

Comedy-Drama: Scene 20, Margaret (mid-to-late 50s)

As she draws a stocking seam up her leg with an eyebrow pencil, Margaret talks about the sadness of getting old, as well as the fact that her imprisoned youngest son didn’t want to see her the last time she visited him in jail. Finally, she cries out in pain against it all, resolving to overcome the bad thoughts. Because of the eyebrow pencil, this might not be the best piece for audition purposes, but it is excellent for workshop use.

WASH, THE

by Philip Kan Gotanda (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act II, Scene 7, p. 44, Masi (67)

Masi tells her adult daughters why she left their father after forty-two years of marriage. She confesses that he didn’t find her sexually desirable. Furthermore, he considered her to be stupid. She is now very happy with a new man, Sadao. An excellent monologue. Start: “Here are things you kinds don’t know.” End: “I like Sadao. I like Sadao very much.”

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?

by Edward Albee (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: Act III, p. 88, Martha (52)

Martha took the new biology teacher to her bedroom, but he was unable to perform because he was too drunk. Now, back in the living room, she tells him that all men except her husband are flops, describing the futile seductive dance she has endured so many times. Rough material, appropriate for advanced actresses. By this point in the play, Martha has been drinking steadily for many hours and is seeing through an alcoholic veil. Start: “You’re all flops.” End: “There is only one man in my life who has ever…made me happy. Do you know that? One!”

WIT

by Margaret Edson (Dramatists Play Service)

Drama: One-act, pp. 43–44, Vivian (50)

This monologue begins with Vivian reciting six lines from a John Donne poem. Then, speaking directly to the audience, she relates the poem to her present situation in which her life expectancy is so tenuous. Start: (quoting Donne) “This is my played last scene…” End: “…It would be a relief to be a cheerleader on her way to Daytona Beach for Spring Break.”

WOOLGATHERER, THE

by William Mastrosimone (Samuel French)

Drama: Act I, p. 28, Rosie (mid-20s)

Rosie is tortured by the memory of hoodlums viciously breaking the legs of the pretty cranes in the zoo. Here, she tells Cliff about the circumstances, describing it in vivid detail. The terror is still real for her. Start: “You may think it’s funny but I was the last one to see them last summer.” End: “They can’t make the birds come alive again.”

ZOOMAN AND THE SIGN

by Charles Fuller (Samuel French)

Drama: Act II, pp. 33–34, Rachel (mid-30s)

Still in mourning over the violent death of her twelve-year-old daughter, Rachel describes the step-by-step deterioration of this formerly safe African-American neighborhood. This is an extremely well-written and powerful monologue. Start: “What is it about men, they won’t let well enough alone?” End: “I just want to move.”