by Deidre Dowling

Setting:       An artist’s studio in Paris, France

Time:          Christmas Eve in the late 19th century

Character:   JOANNA HIFFERNAN, 25 years old, artist and model. For six years Joanna was the Irish mistress of painter James Abbott McNeill Whistler.


Do I want him to come? Well, I do…and then maybe I don’t… I’m expecting “the curse” an I feel like a piece of stretched elastic…and I’m that mad at him. Who the hell does he think he is ranting and raving at me like that? Maybe he has some little whore’s melt lined up somewhere whose only too happy to put him up these last few nights

(She vigorously brushes her hair) The best thing my Da did for me—the red hair…the only thing…the drunken ole shite! Though, it has to be said…I’ve never met the like of him…and he does stir me up so! His lovemaking isn’t all talk like some I could mention! I suppose you can’t blame the fellas back home, what with the priest and their mammies breathing down their necks and them afraid they’ll be hauled before the parish priest and condemned from the pulpit for immoral and debauched behavior with a girl of “uncertain” character! If it wasn’t for me Ma, I’d have been carted off to one of those homes for women—where they keep you in slavery washing sheets and scrubbing floors. What would the good people of Ballyjamesduff make of me now? I could be living at home with nothing better to do than saying a Novena to the Blessed Virgin. I wouldn’t go back if they paid my fare and threw in a hundred pound! Glory be to God, I’d go out of me mind and be sent off to the looney bin like Mary Henderson! Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Modigliani’s Muse

A fantasy on poems by Jacqueline Kolosov

by Norman A. Bert

Outside an apartment, on a little balcony, 12 stories up.

Late at night.

PETE, 50s

PETE is in his pajamas, sitting in a plastic chair, smoking.


I get back from lunch, drowsy. Wander through those three rooms. My world. Mine? That’s a good one. Pictures of strange, long-necked women. Watch for the hidden camera, the reaching hand—what makes people think they can touch the paintings? Gotta remember to pick up the eggs, the tortillas—means taking the slow way home. Jesse. Who did he think he was, saying that to our mother? Then I notice her. Where did she come from?

Blue scarf. Foreign. Maybe European.

And then he expects you to fix his car. After a comment like that. Must be the water pump.

She’s slow, this one. Gonna be here a while. Methodical. One picture at a time.

Then the kids come in with their teacher. Third graders? Giggles. Pointing. More giggles. What was that teacher thinking? Didn’t she know about the nudes? She’s gonna catch hell from the parents. Serves her right. Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Acts of Reconciliation

by Dick Curran

A confessional box in a Catholic church, Newcastle, England.


DAVID, a well-dressed man, 45 years old


(Part 1)

Right. Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It’s been…a very long time since my last Confession.

Specifically?  Shit—sorry, Father. Right, it’s over thirty years since my last confession. Thirty-two probably. I accuse myself of…

Do you still do it like this? These words?

I’m out of touch. Obviously. Not even called confession any more is it? An act of reconciliation.

Perhaps I’m Old School but it sounds strange. Hard to believe God’s so upset that  we need to be reconciled.

I used to exaggerate it when I was little. Accuse myself of extra sins to make it more interesting than just arguing, fighting, being disobedient, and telling lies—which I didn’t apart from saying I did. I stopped going about the time it became…embarrassing.

Don’t suppose I was unusual in that. Not wanting to chat about my sexual fantasies with a priest in a wardrobe.

I’m glad you’re Irish. My Mam was. Last Catholic in the family.  Look, seriously, father, I’m sorry, I’ve made a mistake. If I accused myself of everything I’ve done since my last confession, we’d be here all night. Traffic offenses and financial misdemeanors alone, never mind sins of the flesh.

I don’t want to waste your time. Might be people waiting. Proper Catholics. Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Steel Roses

by Michael Monkhouse

Setting:         Stage is empty except chair

Time:            Evening

Character:     SEYMOUR, a sad and confused teen


The Baron of Beef. Everyone’s favourite pisser, my favourite solution.

Outside there’s a butcher’s and a vegetarian restaurant with the

obligatory old bastard pissing up the side with his jeans ripped to

expose his arse. When the wind gusts the spray into my face…


It’s the smallest, smokiest, pokiest pub—or bar—or cesspit—you could

hope for. The walls sweat under a fluorescent light that flashes on and

off, on and off. Yobs cheer over their beers at the boxing on the telly,

the tiny black-and-white telly above the barman who’s spindly and

moustachio’d and has red smudges across his apron. (PAUSE.) I look

left and there’s a wizened witch on a high backless stool in a tight

leather miniskirt, a blue jacket dripping yellow at the armpits, and

thick tights squashing the hairs that mushroom from her thighs. Her

face is sandpaper with a vermilion smudge where her lips should be

and wisps of wool where her hair should be and they remind me of

strands spouting from a Chinaman’s mole. A sign of fortune, I’m told.

When she isn’t tugging on her rollie she’s squawking at volumes

inversely proportional to the interest of anyone around her. (PAUSE.) Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: excerpt from The Shining Path

by Rahila Gupta

Setting:         Bare stage

Time:             Present

Character:     CANDIDA FORTESCUE, 40s

CANDIDA faces the audience, wearing a white laboratory coat and sexy glasses, holding a test-tube in her hand and leaning against a makeshift counter. All the paraphernalia of a photo shoot, white umbrella, wires, lights, cameras. She talks to Mark, the photographer, while she poses.


Thanks, Mark. You certainly know how to make a girl feel at home. This is not my forte. As you can see. (Laughs) Is it that obvious? I have to say my media training… (camera flash) …oh yes…sorry, was my mouth open?… Let’s do it again… Where was? Media training…didn’t stretch to this… it’s been mainly displays in city centres, beer swilling youths peering down a microscope at a stem cell beating like a heart, going, cool, there’s a heart… Sorry, yeah, okay… No, I’m doing myself down, not like me really… There were the radio  interviews and… h yes… Open University…but this… (Poses. Flash, flash, flash.) Wow! the paparazzi! You know…we don’t really…I don’t wear, need to wear a white coat in my lab…unless you’re an actual, hands-on researcher type… What? …Puh-lease…lie on the counter…why? That’s ridiculous…I’m not lying on the counter… I can just see the headline now, “If your brain’s short of a cell or two, then Candida’s your girl.” Tell you what, I’ll sit on the counter…

(Candida’s shapely legs in black tights and fancy stilettos are now visible. Her lab coat is unbuttoned. She’s stylishly dressed.)

How’s that?

“Candida gets on top of her research.” Or “Candida gets on top of her tubes.” Scrap the last one. That probably suits “Loaded” better… A model who supplies her own headlines… (Flash) Two for one… Can I take my glasses off? I look much better without them (Takes them off and then puts them back on, wearily) Oh…alright. (Flash) Why couldn’t they have done a feature like “Candida: A scientist relaxes”? Pictures outside the Royal Opera house in a Dolce Gabbana dress and jewelry that comes with its own security guards…wouldn’t that be great?… I guess that would be Vogue, not Hello… Yeah, alright, keep your hair on…I’m sure Hello is a great magazine to work for… (Flash) Was I talking again? Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Empathy in the Rape Farm

by Nathaniel Kressen

Setting:       a clinic in Perseverance, Wyoming

Time:           late 21st century

Character:    RACINE—female, teens, a problem child

After years of consuming artificial growth hormones, the female population in America is largely unable to bear children. RACINE, a rebellious orphan still in her teens, is one of the rare few to test fertile and is thrown into a government-run clinic. She forms an unexpected bond with the doctor there, who is equally conflicted about duty to self versus duty to humanity.


So last night I dreamed I was at Craters of the Moon with Marty, just like we planned. He was giving me this out-of-this-world orgasm, and all of a sudden I look and he’s turned into Abraham Lincoln. The beard, the top hat, the whole nine. And I’m like, okay, cool. I’m a history geek, I’ll go with it. I mean how are you ever going to screw up the future if you don’t know who screwed up the past? So Abe keeps pumping away. Then he turns into Napoleon. He’s Alexander the Great. Einstein. Obama. I think he might have even turned into Chewbacca at some point. So eventually this rolodex of historical cock comes to a climax and spontaneously combusts into a cloud of butterflies. They’re everywhere. I can’t see the sky above us, they’re so thick. I try to get up but they swoop down and start batting their wings against my stomach. And the longer they do it, the more it swells up. I just lay there watching it grow, knowing with every fiber that something good is coming.

In like 30 seconds I’m big as a house, my water breaks, I go into labor and a baby pops out. Right away I know something’s up because this baby is sitting upright and just staring me down. Then it’s cute little mouth opens into a smile, a pair of white wings open from its back and it rises into the air. And its little infectious smile gets me smiling, and I don’t even mind when the butterflies swarm back down again. I don’t mind swelling up and I don’t mind popping out another baby. It does the same thing: sit up, sprout wings, hover over me and smile. The whole thing happens again. Another baby. Then another. And another. And another. Finally the butterflies quit. And I’m like, cool, I guess eight is enough. Then I feel this tug. The babies are still attached to me, the umbilical cords or whatever, and all eight of them are lifting me up. Soon I’m bare naked, spread eagle, upside down, floating into the air, but I’m still cool with it, ‘cuz their smiles are so damn adorable. Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: excerpt from the play Family Ties

by Susan Hodgetts

Setting:       Le Chabanais, a notorious house of ill repute in Paris.

Time:           1927

Character:   Adelaide Snape (working name VIVIANA), of English origin, now the Madame of Le Chabanais.

The dying strains of a faded French song. VIVIANA, a woman of around 45 years of age, appears to be waltzing with someone, but is alone. She has not been treated gallantly by time. The music stops.


She speaks in an English accent, a jumbled mixture of East End and affected.

(burps) Oh, excuse me. I’ve just had a very big dinner at a charming little restaurant along the Champs Elysees with a wealthy Member of State and his very rich foreign guest. True, it’s a far cry from jellied eels. But I’ve lived here in Paris for decades and now oysters are more my type of cuisine. You see, I’ve dined with Kings.

(She removes what looks like a real pearl necklace, irritated by it clamouring at her neck. Distracted, she drapes it on a stool.)

But my Alain is buried here. Somewhere.

And this sumptuous abode, well I’ve risen to a Madame of my very own…I came here to escape the workhouse, fled like a canary bird from a coal mine. I knew that looks were my fortune. And my talents. I have many of those.

(She removes a bracelet, clamouring at her wrist. Drapes it on a mirror.)

All this jewelry, so heavy. It quite wears one down. I used to do the can-can for the King of England and I still wore all of this ammunition. Bertie, I mean. Although you’ve probably heard of him as Edward the Caresser. Lord knows, he spent enough time here. When he came to pave the way for the Entente Cordiale, I begged him. We were in the Japanese room, the most celebrated of all the rooms here at Le Chabanais (it’s the most luxurious with the right mixture of decadence and intimacy to put our guests a tease.) I said, Your Majesty, I fear for the future of England, and I got down on one knee, and he said, that’s a new position, I haven’t tried that one before.  Continue reading