MONOLOGUE: Breaking Point

by Laura Camaione

Setting:       A metal folding chair placed center stage.

Time:           present

Character:  MAN, military bearing, about 30 years old

MAN is seated, facing the audience, a single spotlight on him.  The rest of the stage is dark.

 

MAN

We all have a breaking point.  Prisoner, interrogator, it’s all the same.  We are all the same.  Weak, defenseless, scared.  We hide this frailty from the enemy, from ourselves, behind a wall of self-assurance and bravado.  But we’re torn inside.  Tormented.  Each of us struggling to hang on.

(pause)

We struggle.  To protect ourselves.  To keep safe that person we think we are.  The person we hope we are.

(pause)

Each of us.  Together.  Alone.

(silence)

Before Guantanamo, I thought of myself as a religious man.  I was raised a Christian in an Evangelical home.  I read my Bible every day.  But in that place I could not allow myself to connect with God.  To do my job, and to do it well, I had to separate myself from my faith.  I had to bury it.

(pause)

And I was dead inside.

(pause)

Devoid of feeling, I could get the job done, obey the orders that were given…until that last day when I went into the interrogation room…and saw him sitting there.

(pause)

The new prisoner that I was to question was a self-proclaimed Jihadist.  At last.  The enemy.  Clearly defined.  Sitting there silent, sober, his weakness and fears, his frailty carefully concealed behind his own wall of self-assurance and bravado.  What would it take to break him?

(pause)

I stood watching, observing, trying to find a way in, a crack in the wall that would enable me to penetrate.  To conquer.  To win.  But he just sat there, calm, and…at peace.  I asked him, “Aren’t you afraid?”  He looked at me with quiet eyes and said…  “If it is God’s will to stay here the rest of my life…I will be content to do it…  That is the strength of my faith.”

(pause)

“The strength of my faith.”  Those words tore at me, tormented me!  I needed to believe in something again!

(pause)

And while I was thinking about all of it—God, my duty to my country, the war…he said to me, “And what of your own faith?  Where is your Christ in this place?”

(silence)

It was that sudden shock of recognition.  Of realizing the truth.  Of facing what I had become and…wanting to be better than I was.  I had reached my breaking point.  And my wall, which had been slowly crumbling over those last few months, began to give way.  My weakness, my frailty, exposed.

(pause)

It was the end for me.  I could no longer justify my actions.  I could no longer do my job, obey their orders.  I left the interrogation room and wandered down the hall.  Lost.  Alone.

(silence)

And so the struggle goes on.  This time without bravado.  Without self assurances.  Torn and tormented still.  Struggling to hang on to that person I thought I was, hoped I was.  Before all this.  Before the world…went mad.

copyright © 2009 Laura Camaione. All rights reserved.
___________________________________________

Laura Camaione received her first production in 2007 with her Holocaust play The Sorters.  Since then she has received productions and readings of several works, including Pandora’s Box, According to Kubark, and Unanswered Questions, which was produced in New York City by Spare Change Theater.  She has also been published in The Dramatist magazine.

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