Character:   Dudie, Female, late 50's

Dudie speaks to her 17 year old grandson – who she has just met.

DUDIE:  My first was a boy like that.   He was shipped to Vietnam in ’67, early ’68.   Uhhh, what was his name......?   Met him the last night he was in town.    When you were going off to Vietnam -- odds were 1 in 13 you wouldn’t come home.    He was 18 years old and had never been laid.    It was the least I could do. Civic duty, you know?  
      At first there were letters, postcards.  Little dirty notes.  Then -- nothing.  What was his name? Uh B- mm B -  (A thought, then she loses it again).  He had brown hair, the softest skin.   The bluest eyes.   We had so much wine, cheap, sweet wine.  There were a couple women in the corner smoking cigars.   He was so nervous.   God, I can smell the damn cigars, I can feel him kissing me and I can't remember his name.   When all else fails, it’s the feeling you remember.   

         I had a lot of boys before they went off to war.    I was rather patriotic. 
     I guess that’s more than you really need to know about your grandmother, huh?  


Character:   Annabelle,  Female, an energetic 25 year old

Annabelle talks of a romantic date gone bad.

ANNABELLE:     Oysters.   I  melted.  He said:   I want to feed you oysters.  I've never done this before,  but I'm game.  It may sound a bit disgusting, I know.  I might not even like it – but I’m willing to try!   He takes me to this beautiful restaurant.  Orders a great bottle of Merlot.      I’ve never felt better about my life.  Who I am, where I am, where I’m going.    The oysters arrive in this garlic and butter sauce -- smells great. We’re sitting close.... laughing and joking when he-- he slides this, this, horrible, slimy -- thing into my mouth.  I’m trying to be – appreciative.  I’m trying really hard.  Then he gazes into my eyes and says -- "I'm not very good at relationships."    It's hard enough to swallow the damn thing as it is -- it wasn't nearly as romantic as I thought, and now, I mean it's getting worse.  I’m choking!   Then he says:  “that’s why I think you’re such a good friend.”    What’s this friends thing?  This man has his hand on my thigh.  I’ve slept with him - twice!    Is this really worth a good steak?     I’m famished!   I thought this relationship was going really well, but now I’m being dumped before the main course even arrives!  


Character:  Gianna, Female, 40 years old today

Gianna, an inner city art teacher, explains to friends at her surprise birthday party the cause of problems in education.  She speaks directly to Andrea, a television newscaster who says the problems with education have nothing to do with her.

GIANNA:   We are all responsible!   We all are.    When we drop out.  When we sell out.    You want truth Andrea – then don’t walk away from me!
    Before the war started, my kids were so defiant.  They marched out of school and down Broadway to City Hall.   They were so passionate about justice.  Idealistic.  Their voices could change destiny.  They had dreams.  Like we did.
    But the morning we started bombing, the class was silent.  Not a word.     Tanisha – one of my favorite kids – was crying.  Her brother was one of those grunts out front, marching into Bagdad.   She kept wiping tears away thinking no one would notice.   She’s got these pastels   all… over… her hands and she’s wiping away these tears and –without even realizing it -- she’s transformed herself into some – magical - Indian Warrior …   She stands up on her chair and screams – “Our generation doesn’t stand a chance!”   She looks at me.  She’s daring me to prove her wrong. 
    Our generation doesn’t stand a chance.   I told her to go wash her face and come back to class when she calmed down… What was I supposed to say to her? 


Character:   Wayne, 23

Under great distress, Wayne explains to a group of grandmothers how he fell in love with his fiancée, who has locked herself in the bathroom.

WAYNE:       It was my 21st birthday, and I was all by myself.  I wanted to be by myself.   A choice.   I wanted something different. Something I had never done before.  Alone.

       So I went bungee jumping.    

     Right at the moment I leap off the cliff I think “Whyyyy!!!”  “Why am I jumping off this perfectly good cliff?”  Just so I could try it?  So I could challenge myself?  Why am I risking my life for a quick thrill?    I prayed.  I’m in the air, I’m free falling and I’m screaming at the top of my lungs--looking up at that sky -- ‘GOD PLEASE LET THIS CORD WORK.”  My life is flashing.  Images passing one after another.  My mind is running it’s own life movie in front of me.  I’m thinking about the first time I rode a bike, or when I got my first car... The first time I got laid.  

         I’m going to die!  If only I could turn back time, run it in reverse and make a different choice -- then, snap.  The rope pulls, yanks my body hard and I am dangling.   I am so glad to see the ground I get down and kiss it.   I release the harness, and look up, and there stands this beautiful woman.  Alyssa.  I loved her the moment I laid eyes on her.   I knew then, why I had jumped off that cliff.


Character:  Viola,  22, African American, Female

When Janis Joplin purchased a stone to mark Bessie Smith's gravesite, Joplin proclaimed her " The Greatest Blues Singer That Ever Lived".  Here, Bessie's  older sister Viola challenges a young Bessie who she discovers crying because Bessie has been fired for being "too dark for the chorus."

VIOLA:       Get up! Stop that bawling Bessie!  Wipe your face and don’t let me never seen you caterwauling like that again.  You a grown woman now.

       The race and the whites – they all looking for a chance to look down on somebody not like them.  People always gonna look down on whatever’s beneath ‘em.  It makes ‘em feel good.   ‘Somebody can be lower than me.’   Makes ‘em feel high and mighty and proud.  Proud they never went hungry.  Proud they never wore no clothes that been worn so many times barely any of the threads left.  Proud they wasn’t raised by a sister only five years older than ‘em.

        I hate you doing this Bessie.  Ain’t no future in singing!  You wanting to go off all over the country.  You can’t take care of yourself -- first sign a trouble, you quit!  What kinda job is that for you?  You ain’t got the backbone for this kinda work.  That’s why you still sitting here crying cause Mr. Miller fired you Some man take your job away cause you too black?  You can change lots of things Bessie, but you can’t never change the color of your skin.  You gotta be proud of yourself, then everybody else’ll be proud of you.


Character:  Rose, Female,  late 70’s.

By default, Rose is President of her Garden Club.  She is, after all, the last remaining survivor.  Here she speaks to the spirit of her best friends as she works in her greenhouse.

ROSE:      Schewee - I just can’t ever get over that smell.   The best potting soil…nothing but good manure.  Schewee!      

         The most beautiful flowers grow in the foulest smelling soil on earth.  It’s the shit - that makes us strong.  You know, Marge, this baby has a mind of his own.  I don’t know what you did to him, but you spoiled him.  He misses you.  He gave me such an awful rough time.  I didn’t think he’d make it.  He was so…so droopy. I’ve been pampering him.

        Who’s gonna keep up with all this?  My daughter in law couldn’t grow a chia-pet.   Joe Junior?  He understands what this is all about.  But he’s still young.   A young man has to go thru so much before he’s ready to settle down to flowers. 

            He transplanted seedlings I gave him.  Each container had 3 plants.   The roots had wound tight around the other.  I told him: to get a really strong plant you must choose which of the little plants will live.  Remove the weak, keep the strong.  He was such a little man about it, but I knew.  I knew how he felt.   


 Character:   Tessa,  Female late 60's

Tessa has adopted Joanne Woodward's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and cleans it every morning.   

TESSA:    Funny how people come down here to peek at their own star.  They walk…casual like by it.  Dressed like some regular Joe Schmoe.  But you can tell a star by how- they walk -- and I can spot ‘em anywhere.  I think it brings ‘em down to earth, to see their names.  To see the mark-they-made-on-the-world.     I mean, you get so famous, you play so many different people -- maybe it’s hard to remember who you really are.   Or maybe – maybe --  you’re always thinking you’re somebody you used to be.     I saw Mel Gibson on the walk last week!  Hugh Jackman. Everybody wants to clean him.

        I came out to California to be a cigarette girl at the Roosevelt Hotel.  Nah, that was just my “Day Job.”    I got good hoofers.    Watch the “Spaniard That Blighted My Life”  number in  “Jolson Sings Again”    When Larry Parks falls to the ground – that’s my leg he’s looking at!    My gams up there.  Course when they panned up for the dance, somebody with more experience stepped in.   I came to California to be in the movies.
You know what they say about the best laid plans?

        That summer I met my husband.  Jeannie made me go see “Singing in the Rain.” so we could meet these two sailors --  Larry and Roy -- she’d waited on them at her diner earlier in the day and they’d tipped her real big.  Larry looked an awful lot like Donald O’Conner.  I think that’s why I married him.  Least I told him so. 

.    I especially like when people asked me for my autograph.  Or when they want to take pictures of me with you.
People watch me.  They watch me like I’m someone special.   And I am someone special.
It’s like – well, like the Lincoln Monument.   You get a star and you get history.

Character Fletcher, African American Male

When Janis Joplin purchased a stone to mark Bessie Smith's grave site, Joplin proclaimed her "The Greatest Blues Singer That Ever Lived". Here, a character based on Bessie's  pianist Fletcher Henderson, speaks to a reporter from the Chicago Defender about his life on the road with Bessie.

FLETCHER      How long I known Miss Bessie? Since 1923. Feels like we knowed each other our whole lives though. Early on we covered a couple numbers, with Don Redman, Louis Armstrong. Eavesdropper Blues. Soft Petal Blues. I-gotta-sing-those-blues-blues. I didn’t-mean-to-be-singing the blues blues. 

            Did I tell you that I went to college to be a chemist?

            A whole lot a good it did me. You think somebody gonna hire a black man be a chemist? Separate but equal, my ass.  I came up from Atlanta to New York, round ‘20. Wasn’t nobody’d hire me as a scientist. Oh, they’d hire me as a janitor though. I could be a line cook. Wasn’t no job for an educated man who wanted to make some money.  Who wanted to use his intellect. Who wanted to change the world. 

        So I started pluggin’ music, then playing piano for Harry Pace – Black Swan Record Company. Went on tour with Ethel Waters.

        But ain’t no tour as exciting as a tour with Bessie. That’s the God’s-honest truth.


Character.   Helen, Mid 40's

Returning to her hometown after almost 3 decades in order to move her ailing mother out of the family home and in with her, Helen speaks to her childhood love interest, John Henry, after a evening walk in the country.

HELEN  When I was at IGA I ran into Meyers Reynolds. He was the boy I loved in high school. Long blonde hair, really cool guy. He wore a green army jacket and used to smoke out in the parking lot. He’d make me so nervous I couldn’t even talk.   Somebody paged him, and I snuck up to the front of the store to check him out.I hadn’t seen him in 26, 27 years! There stands this pudgy gray haired old man wearing a T-shirt with a fish and beer motif, thongs -- you know the kind you wear to the beach -- and pants down to here. I mean the man has no rear end. I couldn’t believe it. I had to ask. “Are you Meyers Reynolds?” Sure enough, it’s him. So I introduce myself. He stares at me. I’m not even sure he recognizes me. Then he says, “You look great.”  

     It’s all he can say. “You look great.” He says it over and over again. That’s his answer to every question I have. “Do you have kids?” “Yeah. You look great.” Then he says maybe we can go out to dinner and he asks me for my phone number.

         I couldn’t believe it. Part of my brain is going “Meyers Reynolds asked me out!”   And I told him I was married and I live up north and my husband’s the jealous type and thanks all the same. He won’t know the difference.

by Kathryn G. McCarty

The following Contemporary  Monologues are from 
the book "Defining Form & Other Plays."  

Please feel free to use these Monologues in your auditions, showcases, and class work. 

While you have the writer's permission to use monologues and scenes from the plays for scene study,  classwork, auditions and showcases -- please remember that no complete play may be produced without the permission of the Playwright.

Character:  Lucina, a first generation American Artist in her late 60's.

In her studio, Lucina speaks to her granddaughter, the subject of her painting.

LUCINA    I didn’t talk much when I was a child.  Didn’t really matter, cause when I did? No one could understand. Not even me.  Until – Art. Art became my language of choice. I sketched – people finally understood. I understood.

        The moment I walk into my studio I enter a parallel universe. My senses become acute. My bones don’t ache as much, my fingers aren’t so stiff. Usually. There is nothing else but this moment in time.       

        In my studio, when I draw the ocean -- I hear waves crashing. I feel sand pelting my face. I smell the salt. I taste…. 

        (Moving to a new perspective.) Pappa - he was my worse critic. Once, I drew a picture of him. Looked just like him. He stared me straight in the eye and said: “I know you dink dat looks like me, but id don’t." 
I think…(Studies granddaughter.) I think I saw what he couldn’t.

        After Pappa’s heart attack, my mother kept that picture by her bedside until the day she died. 

        My Pappa, he didn’t know how to handle a young daughter in America. He was zo lost.  My parents were – traditionell. Old Country. Very old country. America was so different. The rules were different.  Pappa would get zo aggravated. “Ich verstehe nicht, die jungen in Amerika.” 

        Hell, no one ever understands teenagers. Doesn’t matter what country you’re in! 

        Pappa hated everything he didn’t understand. 

        Being first generation American was not easy.  In this Country, girls dated who they wanted -- why couldn’t I? But Papa had his own beliefs. College was not necessary for women - he still couldn’t figure out why we needed to vote! Oh, how we argued!!! Aghh! But nothing compared to the World War 3 that happened when your Mom started dating your Dad! Pappa went nuts. Absolutely nuts! Marry someone from another Country, that was acceptable. But marry outside your race? Unforgivable.

BESSIE!   The Life of Bessie Smith

Character.  Bessie Smith, late 20's, African American.

Bessie prepares an audience for her performance of "A Good Man is Hard to Find"

BESSIE        I see an awful lotta of mens in tonight’s house. Good looking, hot black men. But I ain’t singing for you all tonight. No sirree. I’m singing for them ladies to your side. All dressed up, looking purty in their fancy getups. I’m singing for them women, about how a man can tear you every which way but loose, then look you in the eye and smile and say “I’m sorrrry”. And what do you do? You take him back! Arms open so wide. You let him back in your bed. Mmm. Legs open so wide. 

         Ladies, this is for you. I’m singing for you. Cause that no good handsome – I mean handsome - man gonna do you wrong again and again. And you gonna let him. Why” Cause he’s your man. You loooove him. How do I know? Cause I had me that man too. And I still love him. I’m singing the Tell- it- like- it –is- blues. It’s a story now – my story now, cause we women, tonight, we gotta pick up the pieces of our sorry-ass life and move on. We ladies, we together in our doggone man-omine blues. 

BESSIE!   The Life of Bessie Smith

Character:   Young Bessie Smith, 9 years old, African American, 

Young Bessie puts Clarence, her 12 year old brother , in his place.

YOUNG BESSIE    You say that again, I’m leaving your ass in Blue Goose Hollow. You’ll still be standing here on Ninth Street – or maybe you get you a spot in front of the White Elephant Saloon. They’ll be saying, that’s Bessie’s brother! She went off to tour the country and left his ass back in the dirt.

    Someday Clarence. Someday we gonna be singing all over the country! Detroit, Philadelphia and maybe even New York City! We gonna play towns we ain’t never heard of before.  I can see it now.   I’m in the wings and I can hear the people breathe. Waiting for me to come onto the stage. And when I walk on, there’s a pause – “is it really her?” There all a thinking. Then they see me – wearing a red sequin dress – and it’s a new dress. Not a dress that’s been worn before by somebody else. The people begin to clap and shout and carry on. Pretty women fainting and babies crying. Men be saying: Miss Bessie, can I carry your things? Miss Bessie, may I take you to dinner? Who cares what Viola says?   I could steal the dimes from the Sunday school money, cross Viola’s hand with ‘em and she’s happy.  Long as I'm giving her money.

BESSIE!   The Life of Bessie Smith

Character:   Clarence Smith, Bessie's older brother, early 30's.

Clarence,  speaks to a reporter from the Chicago Defender who is doing a story on Bessie's tour.

CLARENCE     Who you thinks listening to Bessie’s music? I give you one clue. Radio set costs 135, 140 dollars.         How long a black man gonna work to save for something like that? 

        Look here, I’ve carried this quite a spell.   The Preston News (Reads) 1924. “Few white homes here are without her records. A prominent white music dealer told this reporter of the Preston News that Bessie Smith’s records actually outsell everything in this year’s catalogue.”   That’s right. Better than Ma Rainey or Ethel Waters. Fanny Brice. Al Jolson. Black, white, she’s topping them all. 

      And to think back 8-9 years ago, those Uppity Northern Coloreds didn’t want nothing to do with us.
 My Daddy’s Daddy a slave. His granddaddy a slave before. After my daddy was freed, he took up preaching and he run a Baptist mission. In the South. Chattanooga, Tennessee. Me and Bessie, we children - are the first in our family born free.    But you see, now we got new kindsa slavery. Other ways you can wear chains. Chains you can’t even see.

        When Bessie first got hooked up with Columbia Records, she made 29 sides for those people. 29 sides and they didn’t pay her not one penny of royalties. Bessie Smith pulled that company clean outta bankruptcy. And that’s how they paid her back. Cheating her outta what’s rightfully hers.

        Bessie Smith. Empress of the Blues. She earned that title. She earned that right. 


Character: Josh, late teens, baseball player.

Josh speaks to his best friend Michael.

JOSH  Baseball.  Summer!  Chicks in white cotton. No bras. 

        Face it Michael –Reggie don’t know how to behave. It’s a real problem out there. Baseball’s a game where you gotta understand how to behave. You gotta play by rules of honor. 

        You always gotta mouth -- but never first. Even when you’re playing somebody like Reggie. You can’t mouth first.   I ain’t no bush leaguer. 

        This summer we’re gonna finally get you laid.

        You gotta play ball and women with whatcha call “reckless abandonment”. It’s that recklessness that gets you every time.  

         Katie’s a great gal Michael – don’t get me wrong. But you can’t just spend your life with the same woman.  
Each and every game is different.  Just like women! They each have their own life, their own story. You gotta treat every one like the 7th game of the World Series. 


Character:   Dee, late 40's.

Dee speaks to her Aunt who is inside a stall trying on clothes.

 DEE       Honestly Auntie Bea, I couldn’t believe it! I stand there. Waiting. For 30 minutes. As Guy stands there staring at this – this thing. Reading the box. Then, he says he wants to think about it. We’ll come back tomorrow after work if he decides he wants it. We get in the car, drive ½ way home and he decides: No, he wants it. He wants it -- bad. So – back to Home Depot. Then he picks it up, it’s in- his- hands—and he stands there for another 15 minutes reading the same box. I look around me. I’m surrounded by a bunch of men standing around reading boxes. Labels. Directions. “What are you doing? How long have you been standing there reading about fertilizers? Make a decision! It’s all shit anyways” 

        This was some kind of marriage test. That’s it! He wanted to see how I’d react! Guy was testing me! Well, I failed. I lost my patience. With all these men. All this wasted testosterone. I was so bored I even tried to pull Guy into the tool corral to see if we could find something more fun to drill. It didn’t work. 

        I am losing what little patience I have. I hate this store! I hate florescent lights! But most of all? I hate men with big tool belts that never use them!    Why am I missing American Idol for this? When we first got married, I thought qualities like this meant he was focused. It’s funny – little things I used to find so endearing bug the hell out of me now. 
        And I've been married long enough to know better than to make a trip to Home Depot with Guy!  I'm telling you, another minute in Home Depot and I would have never touched his tools again.   So, we made a pact to save our marriage.  No more hardware for me, and I’ll never drag him to my Aunt Edna’s again. 


Character:   Michael, early 20's

Michael has followed his weeping fiancee into the fitting room.  As she hides in a stall:

MICHAEL          Oh, come on! Come out of there!    What did I do?   Baby-what’s wrong?   Look, why don’t you come out? You’re parents went to get the car....I shouldn't have said it.  I know.  But it was a joke.  A joke.   It was a -- a -  figure of speech. “I’ll marry her because Sissy irritates me less than any other woman."  

          I love you Sissy. I LOVE YOU!

          Come out here Honey!  I am not leaving this dressing room until you come out!   I love you!   Oh, for God’s sake Sissy, stop! Don’t make me do it Sissy. Please please please don’t make me do it.   (Sings, off-key)  "Daisy, Daisy, Give me your answer do! I'm half crazy, All for the love of you! It won't be a stylish marriage, I can't afford a carriage But you'll look sweet upon the seat of a bicycle made for two."

        Please honey. I want to marry you because I love you! You have to believe me.   I can’t live without you.

        Please, oh please oh please --just open the door for a minute. Oh, please!   Look, you don't irratate me.  Really.
I love everything about you. I love how you never quite get the faucets turned off all the way, and how you leave your shoes by the front door so I can trip over them. I love how at least once a week you lock yourself out of the house and how you leave the refrigerator door open when you’re pouring milk. I love being able to accept every thing about you. I love waking up –every morning --knowing you’ll be there, doing all those special things that make you the woman I am going to marry on Sunday even if it has to be in the ladies fitting room!


Character:   Badger, early 20's

Badger advises her younger friend on men and the art of being "Sherlock of the Refrigerator."

BADGER    I go into his refrigerator, I can tell exactly the type of man he is.  I wait till he goes in the bathroom or something.   There’s a lot less danger in digging in his refrigerator than going through his underwear drawer.         

         Refrigerators are easy.     Sour milk. Okay. What’s the date on it? Did it expire last week? Or 2 months ago? Seth had sour cream that was dated 12-10-14-- that shit was penicillin, man. 

         I really had to ask myself: Is this the type of dude I want to be with? Someone who can’t even manage the details of his own refrigerator? How can this man be dependable? I was wasting my time.  Refrigerators are even better than say, bookshelves. Byrd had a fat ass collection: Poetry, World History, Anthropology. After 10 months without one single intellectual conversation, I had to ask him: Wassup with the books? Turns out he had never even opened the damn things. He liked the way the covers looked. "I needed something to fill my bookcases,” he said. Just like he needed me to fill the job of girlfriend! We weren't learning anything from one another; we were filling space in one another’s shelves.   


Character:   Old Queen,  late 40's African American male.

Old Queen dictates his life.

 OLD QUEEN      I got paid to be a part of a Federally funded ‘Orgasmic Reorientation’ program. So the deal is: I start masturbating looking at a man -- then right before orgasm, switch to a female subject. This Federally funded scientific experiment proved I could change my choice of sexual object.  Orgasmic Realignment, so to speak. I got $55 a session. I paid two months rent in a week. If that clinic and the sperm bank worked together a Sister woulda made a killing.

        Memories. Memories remain. Everything else is gone. Steve’s parents and his brothers and sisters came in and cleaned it all out. I came home from the store 3 days after Steve’s funeral and the apartment was empty. It was all so sudden, first the accident... Then Steve’s family. They took everything. Everything. Imagine the life they are creating for my Steve, showing his nieces pictures of my high school prom. Hell, they even took the damn dog. 

Monologue 101:  Intro
Character Development for Monologues


Character:  Jackson,    Male, early 30’s

Having attempted to pick up Marci by having her try on an "outfit for my sister's birthday," Jackson reveals his problems talking to women.

JACKSON:    Every Monday afternoon for eight years I’ve gone into Meyer’s Deli for a corn beef on rye.  Why?  I hate corn beef.  Why? I hate rye!   Why?   Because Andrea works there.   Andrea is beautiful.    For eight years I have watched how she talks to people, how she looks at people.  I have memorized everything she’s ever said.

     The first time I went in, she said, “You look like a corn beef and rye kinda guy.”    I said, “Yeah”.    Every Monday for eight years, that’s what I got -- didn’t even have to ask for it.

      Sometimes I see her looking at me.  That look.  You know the one.  Like yeah, I might go out with you if you had more money or a nicer car, or, maybe you’d just ask me. 

     Eight years I go to this deli.  And one Monday last month, I have this, you know, premonition.  I’m feeling queasy sitting there, hunched over my sandwich, holding up my Wall Street Journal -- pretending that I have not lost the ability to read in her presence.  I hear her talking to a customer.   She says it’s her last Monday.  Oh. My. God.  She’s getting married.   Married!    Before I know it, I start weeping.   I have my head down on the table.  I got mustard everywhere!   I just can’t control myself.  Andrea asks me if there is something wrong with the sandwich.   There is this stranger who has everything in the world, and I have nothing!  Nothing!  The stranger knows Andrea.  The stranger has even talked to her!


All Rights:  Kathryn G. McCarty