MONOLOGUE: Public Speaking

by William Cameron

Setting:       A classroom, lectern center stage.

Time:           present

Character:   MEG, age 25

Slowly, from one side of the stage, MEG enters carrying a small file box. She stops shy of the center, then gets a cue from the back of the room to move to the lectern. She inches her way over, painfully slow. Once there, she opens and closes the lid on the file box a few times, clears her throat and begins.

MEG

Um…

(Deep breath)

…here goes…OK…um…this is my recipe box. You know, for my, um, personal object…thing. The assignment, you know?

(She looks to the ‘teacher’ at the back of the room)

Five to seven minutes, ‘zat right?

(She nods)

OK, so this is my personal object, my recipe box, ‘cause I didn’t know what else to bring…for my personal object…assignment…thing.

(Beat)

I was gonna bring my ticket stub for the Judds’ concert my mom took me to in grade school but I didn’t know what to say about the Judds except, y’know, they’re the Judds and I like ‘em a lot, listen to ‘em all the time. Wish they’d get back together but Naomi, that’s the mom, she got hepatitis but she really didn’t get the bad kind like they first said, the doctors messed up the whaddyacallit, the uh…thing, where you, like, when the doctor tells you this is what’s wrong with you, like, I can’t remember the word…ummmm…anyway, she quit ‘cause she thought she was gonna die so Wynonna went solo but I don’t like her as much, especially since she had a baby and got really fat and all weird and kinda whiney and then her sister became a movie star and she was in that movie with Tommy Lee Jones about this woman, she kills her husband but doesn’t really kill him ‘cause he’s not really dead but she goes to jail but then she gets out and she kills him again but it’s ok this time ‘cause…I don’t know but… it’s on TNT all the time.

(Beat, clears her throat)

Anyway, this is my recipe box.

(Beat, then to the teacher at the back of the room)

How much time is that so far? 

(Beat)

Diagnosis! The doctors messed up the diagnosis. Sorry, but I’m really nervous. I didn’t even want to take this class and I tried to get…what do you call it? Where you get, you know, like…you don’t have to take the class but it’s OK ‘cause like the Dean says you’re—Exempted! I tried to get exempted but no way and then my mother said I hadda take it, and she’s right, I know she’s right, ‘cause I gotta get over this, y’know, thing about getting up in front of people. Creeps me out. I mean it creeps me out! I had to give a thing, a speech, y’know, in tenth grade, as part of this group. We had to talk on the digestive system and I was the last one in the group and was supposed to talk about the last part of digestion and I don’t need to tell you what that is and who wants to talk about that. I was so nervous when I finally got up ’cause the boy before me talked for like ten minutes past his time and so I finally stood up and said two words ‘fore I passed out, fell backwards, hit my head on the chalkboard, well, not the chalkboard but the wooden eraser holder thing, y’know, and it broke, smashed all up cause there were all these bugs, y’know, termites eating away at it, and about a bejillion bugs came out and when I woke up I had bugs all over my face. And then they found out that the whole school was run over by termites and was gonna fall apart and so they condemned it, we hadda have school in a trailer park for my last two years of high school while they tore the school down and built a whole new one on the same spot at great expense to the taxpayers. And all because I hadda give a speech on the digestive system so when I say it creeps me out, it creeps me out!

(Beat. She surveys her audience for a response. Hearing none, she clears her throat.)

Anyway, this is my recipe box.

(Beat)

My mom thought it was good to bring. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest cook. But she wants me to learn, gave it to me for a wedding present. I’m not married now but I was for a while. Guy named George. How much time is that so far?

(Beat, deep breath)

OK, my recipe box is full of, guess what, recipes. My mom typed ‘em all up, all the stuff she made when I was a kid cause she said I hadda learn to cook to keep my man but, lemme tell you, the son-of-a-bitch never came home for dinner anyway cause he was screwing this high-school girl, you mighta read about it. So he’s got like a bejillion hours of community service and I still got the fuckin’ recipe box.

(She takes a card out of the box, reads it.)

Creamed eggs on toast. How much time is that so far?

(Beat, then blackout)

copyright © 2010 William Cameron. All rights reserved.
___________________________________________

William Cameron teaches theatre at Washington and Jefferson College. Violet Sharp, his drama about the Lindbergh Kidnapping, won the Julie Harris Playwriting Prize and received its world premiere in Los Angeles in 2009. His plays have been performed off-off Broadway at the Harold Clurman Theatre, at The Source Theatre in Washington, DC, and at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival.

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