MONOLOGUE: excerpt from His Brown Recliner

by Taylor Gould

Setting:     Middle-age couple’s dining room.

Time:         Present

Character: MAN, married, middle-aged, tightly-wound

The MAN’s wife asks why he’s been behaving so maniacally. The tone is taut.


Let me educate you. You’re so curious. Let me educate you. It’s about being a man. I think that’s what it’s boiled down to for me. No, not being a man, being human. Being a human. I think I’ve figured out what it means to be human. Thing is, I’ve been doing it so wrong for such a long time, and things just…move so quickly… But that’s neither here nor there. You want to know why I’m being this way, so manic, so crazy, so loud, so different, it’s because sometimes you lose your way. Eventually, you lose your way. You settle for things, you sacrifice the big dreams of the eventual for the small actualities of the now, you take the money and run before even trying to answer the million dollar question—y’see? You barter with yourself, and you never come through on the other end—“Okay, well, if I don’t do this, I’ll do this later to make up for it”—and the way things go, so quickly, so harried, you forget you had even made the promise to begin with and when the next compromise rolls around, you take the easy way out, you diverge from that path the 14-year-old you had laid out in dreams and nightmares—in To-Be’s and Not-To-Be’s. You take the wrong path, and, god, you’re running—no, you’re sprinting—and it’s all going too fast—so quickly—and you can’t even see you’re on the wrong road. And some people do, and they backtrack, they trace their steps—“where did I go wrong?”—and some people, shit, it’s so late in the game that you don’t have a chance, even. Life has a way of tricking us into living on its own terms, and we lose track of what we want.  Continue reading


by Rob McClure Smith

Setting:         The Blue Heaven Gentlemen’s Club, outside Davenport, Iowa.

Time:             May 2010

Character:     CHRISTABEL, 20 years old, an attractive and perky brunette

CHRISTABEL sits in a chair on a bare stage. She directs her remarks to her replacement.


The best thing is, not everyone gets in the door. Big Petie keeps the mega-creeps out. On the whole, I’d say the custom is nice, with exceptions. Of course, head’s up, they’ll want to know everything about you right off the bat. Me, I’m honest. I tell them I’m a student, just not where, obviously. Only question you don’t answer is: “What’s your real name?” “What’s your wife’s name?” ask back. That’ll shut them up quick every time. You need a good name, though. Something creative. Which is how come I’m Christabel.

When you’re here, you’re here, and what happens in Blue Heaven stays in Blue Heaven. That’s the rule. I bumped into a regular—only time ever—in this ice cream parlor in Iowa City. “I don’t know you and you don’t me,” he said. His kids were with him. Damn straight I didn’t.

Best advice is be a professional always. Always. Don’t drink at work, don’t curse, don’t share your troubles, always be in a good mood. Tell him jokes. Listen to his wife-and-work woes. Make him feel he’s the only guy in the room. Talk as long as he’s listening and the money’s flowing. Know what they call it in psychology? Counterfeit intimacy. Isn’t that great? I did an Independent Study last year. Anyway, just figure out what the guy wants and become it. Mommy or Catholic schoolgirl covers a lot of bases. He wants a pretty airhead? That’ll be you. “Like, why is snow so wet?” The sophisticated woman? That’s you too. “What do you think of the flat tax? Could it work without a fee at the point of consumption? Really? How interesting. I think you’re soooo right.”  Continue reading

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.



(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.


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?  Continue reading


Excerpt from No Phones on Planet Pluto

by Colin Garrow

Setting:         A therapy group session for people living with mental illness.

Time:             Present

Character:     NICK, 39 years old

NICK is trying to come to terms with his dread of crowds, public places, people in general.


A friend of mine once asked me what it was like to be mental.
So I nutted him.
That’s a joke.
Doctor Roberts said I should…

It’s hard.
To explain.
To explain how it feels to not be physically able to lift your head high enough
To look someone in the face…
To not be able to speak, or eat or brush your teeth without crying your eyes out.
To not be able to function like everybody else.
And I know that it’s not particularly interesting like those folks that have schizophrenia,
Or ADHD or any of those fancy things that get a lot of attention.
I didn’t hear voices.
I wasn’t suicidal.
I was just…
I was just…depressed

I can tell you the story.
Cos it is a story.
And since I’ve been taking the tablets, it’s a lot easier to get to the punch line.
That’s another joke.
Maybe it’s only me that thinks it’s funny.

I was working in a residential hostel.
Rehabilitation of the recovering mentally ill.
In the days when charitable organisations employed married couples
To come and live in their not-so-fancy establishments and run them for a pittance of pay.
Don’t get me wrong—it was an okay job. I enjoyed it.
Most evenings off, every other weekend free, it was fine.
My wife—I’ll call her Daphne. Only cos I hate the name Daphne.
She was lovely.
Smart, funny.
We enjoyed each other’s company.
We were happy.
The job meant we were together all the time and I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend my days.
And then she started shagging someone else.  Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Names For Things That Sound Like Home

by Shannon Murdoch

Excerpt from New Light Shine

SETTING:           A bedroom

TIME:                 Present

CHARACTER:      OSCAR, 30s, a former accountant, prone to bouts of sudden hysteria.

OSCAR has just moved to a new, small town with his girlfriend, Anna.  He speaks to Anna as he moves amongst the boxes.


It’s funny.

Because you get to a certain age don’t you?  And when that day comes, maybe it is the day that your girlfriend…although I hate that word.  Makes me think of Chelsea Livingsworth who let me feel her breasts because she ‘trusted me’ and was this close to sucking me off until her mother read her diary and sent her to live with her grandmother.  That’s a girlfriend.

So not one’s girlfriend, one’s…partner?  No.  Too clean.  Lover?…  I’d like to call you my lover, Anna.  I’d like that a lot because you are the greatest person in the world to fuck but I get the feeling that if I started dropping the ‘L’ word into conversation, your skin would blush all over and you would tell company that I am over-medicating myself.

God.  Are we going to have any company here?  Are we going to have anything?  Anything that…  Anything at all?  Anything that I might learn to love and consider my own?  Anything that I will one day sit back and smile at nothing and mutter in a quiet, lovely tone that I am lucky.  I am just so lucky that I live here, this place, because of…fill in the blank.  Perhaps they make their own jam?  Gooseberry, or sweet, sweet marmalade.  Home.  The feeling of home.  You know what I’m talking about?  Something that tastes like home.  Like you, Anna.  Anna, Anna, Anna.  Where have you taken me? Continue reading

MONOLOGUE: Knit One, Purl One

by Crystal Stewart

Setting:      Bus stop in Albert Square opposite the town hall, Manchester, England

Time:          Present day, summer, early evening

Character:  ALICE, a woman in her late 60s, with a weather beaten face

ALICE is clasping a pair of knitting needles and a ball of wool. Beside her is a shopping trolley filled with bags of her possessions.


I nabbed this old bird’s knitting—well, it was poking out her handbag looking right sorry for itself. From a cardy to a shawl and back again—been round the block more times than me, it ‘ad.

(Referring to needles) Last time I’d used a pair of these was to knit our Shaun an Xmas stocking, only for some reason it came out a balaclava, so it ended up on Shaun’s head that winter, which he was gutted about…because it were red, and he was a Man City fan.

Last week Shaun says to me, “Give this sheltered accommodation a chance, Ma.” Who needs sheltered accommodation when I got the runnings of every bus stop in this city? And have you seen that bus station they put up in Shude Hill, it’s got comfy seats and computers, and vending machines churning out anything from chicken soup to cappuccino round the clock.

See these tourists. Snapping away. Clicking away at me like I’m this prize flipping marrow. Give us a quid and I’ll flash you what’s left of me teeth.

(Scolding herself) Well, you have gone and plonked your derriere in front of the Town Hall you prize fool, not your ugly mug they want for their albums, it’s that blimmin’ fancy clock tower behind you. Shift it, you old piss bag. Or whatever that is in Japanese.  Continue reading


by Lynn Snyder

Setting:         The kitchen of an upper-middle class home in Akron, Ohio

Time:             the late 1960s

Character:    ALMA, 47

ALMA holds a white envelope over a steaming kettle on the stove. She speaks to the audience.


A gypsy wouldn’t think twice about opening someone else’s mail. I’m not a gypsy, but I used to tell fortunes. You know, for fun, at parties. I was pretty good at it. When my parents found out, they hit the roof. “Are we raising a gypsy here?” my father bellowed. “Is this why I’m working fifty, sixty hours a week?” He owned a hardware store.

Nothing to be so high and mighty about, if you ask me.

(ALMA makes a cup of tea, takes the tea and the letter to the breakfast table and carefully unseals the letter.)

This letter is addressed to my eldest daughter, Rachel. In novels and movies, people steal letters and throw them away or give them to the wrong person. Even in Shakespeare.

But I know what you’re going to say. A young woman of nineteen has a right to privacy, let alone the moral question.

All right, it’s immoral, unethical and just plain sneaky. But she’s not your daughter.

(She squeezes lemon into her tea.)

I have talented children. Where they get it, I don’t know.

Ira is anything but artistic, I can assure you. A good businessman, yes, but ask that man to go into Cleveland once a year to an opera, you should see the face. I love beautiful things. I love opera. I love flowers. I have some flare, I’m told, for arranging flowers. (indicating the flowers) What do you think?

(She picks up the envelope.)

This letter is from Julliard, telling Rachel whether she is accepted as a student. Rachel applied, because her teacher, Mr. Noretti, told her she could become a concert pianist. A concert pianist. She should poke herself into a little cubicle at Julliard and practice day and night. Continue reading