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Monologue for your opinion  Rating:  Rating
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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 11:17 pm
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Alan
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Mana: 
Lonely and needing input.  I just finished this monologue.  I intend to send it to Brooklyn Publishers who specialize in these types of monologues for high school students to use in competition.  Talk to me about it, please.

Mississippi Mirror




(Throughout the monologue, Carmen tries hard to keep her sarcastic mask in place, but memories of her father and her need for acceptance break through it.)




Carmen: Yeah, so, what’s it going to be today, Doc? What clever questions do you have for me? That’s what all you people specialize in, ain’t it? Clever questions. Do you go to, like, clever question seminars for headshrinkers, hm? I bet you do. I bet you and all the others get together and have these nice white tables with little fruit salad cups and your name tags at your seats and you sign up for workshops--the whole nine yards. (putting on a very affected air, perhaps with a British accent) “Oh, Doctor So-and-So, nice to see you. Will you be attending the Clever Question workshop this morning? I understand Professor Head Headshrinker of Headshrink University will be presenting. It ought to be quite educational. Oh, and I say, did you happen to catch last night’s seminar on Advanced Leg-Crossing technique? I was riveted, positively riveted.” You all cross your legs, you know that? Even though it’s not supposed to be good for your circulation. Every one of you guys I’ve ever....


Oh, nice question. You paid attention at your workshop, yes you did. Got your money’s worth at that conference. My mother’s always going off to conferences, you know that? (fake pitiful, like a child) She never takes me. That must be why I’m so lonely, depressed and suicidal. Momma never takes me to have fruit salad cups.

Okay, okay. Back on track. You want me to tell you about the other counselors I have worked with. That is a clever question, indeed--a nice way to get at my background, see what I’ve heard, what I’ve paid attention to. Beautiful. I commend you, Doctor.

So. By counselors, do you mean professional headshrinkers like yourself or just any counselors? Any? Wide open, then, huh? A very open-ended clever question. The best kind. Okay, let’s start with Mrs. Doherty, grade eight guidance counselor. She was a very nervous lady, very antsy, very mousy. And, just between you and me, not very bright. You know the guidance office posters, right? “Attitude determines altitude,” “Life is not a destination, but a journey,” “Reach for the stars and even if you miss you’ll end up getting mooned,” whatever. Well, I think Mrs. Doherty figured that all she needed to do was recite that kind of guidance poster wisdom and she’d set us all straight. (putting on her Mrs.Doherty imitation) “Now, um, Carmen, I understand, uh, that you are going through, well, quite a difficult, uh, time right now.” (breaking from the imitation) Touching her nose--this was Mrs. Doherty’s thing. All the time touching her nose while she’s talking to you. I think, when she was alone, she probably went right inside it, but that’s just a theory. (continuing with the imitation) “And, um, you know, we all have these periods in, uh, our lives when we need to just, um, well, try to get better sense of, uh, the forest through the trees, you know. I think, uh, the most important thing to keep just uppermost in, uh, our thoughts, in, in, in our minds is that how we feel today does not dictate how we have to feel tomorrow. We, uh, we control our destinies, you know.” Yuh. Very effective. Mrs. Doherty helped me realize a major irony: that our educational system hires some of the dumbest people in society. She also taught me to keep away from my nose. I’ll always be grateful to her for that.

Oh, yes, yes, moving on, right, right. Don’t want to get too distracted from the task at hand. Other counselors. Other advice-givers. Hm. My first professional was Jack Leamy. Good old Jack. He wanted me to call him by his first name, you know. Buddy-buddy. (imitating Jack) “We can talk, Carmen. I’m not above you. I’m not judging you. Say what you need to say.” He had a bad habit, too. Not as constant as the nose thing, but he would throw in this 1960s hippy language, you know--he was that age, this old guy who grew up in the 60s and never really got past it. “That’s cool.” That was Jack’s favorite saying: “That’s cool,” and he’d bob his head in this laid back way. I liked him okay. I mean, how do you not like a hippy throwback? He was all about self-discovery. “Carmen, what do you want to be? Close your eyes. Try to find your groove. Think of yourself as a piece of music. Or a light show. What music do you hear, Carmen? Do you hear Hendrix? Zeppelin? Maybe Bach? What color are your lights? Are they flashing, swirling?” The truth was, of course, that he claimed to be about self discovery, but when I told old Jack that the music I heard was rats chewing on my hair and the light I saw was black lightning in a stark, white sky.... He wasn’t too “cool” with that. And anyway, we had to quit our sessions when he got busted for possession. Poor Jack, still back in Psycho-Psychedelic World.

Now, there was my father. He was a great one for advice, especially when he’d had a few. And he had a very good technique, too, for making sure you were listening. What would you call it? Reinforcement? (drunken, swinging her hand with each “whack“) “Why don’t you clean yourself up, Carmen, you look like a damned tramp.” Whack. “You don’t want to turn out like your mother, do you?” Whack. “Live by my rules or get the hell out!” Whack. Sometimes he’d just skip the advice and go right to the reinforcement. Whack. Whack. Whack. Yeah, dear old Dad. He definitely missed his calling. Could have helped an awful lot of people before he suffocated on his own vomit and died.

You know something, though? I remember him when I was young, like about five or six. I don’t think he was drinking much then. You know, he...he would put me on his knee, and I was like a chatterbox. I would just tell him about every little thing that happened even if nothing happened. I mean, I’d spend ten minutes on a toothpick I’d found or something. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so...

My last shrink before you was an Indian woman--not Native American, you know, but the real deal, from India. Took me the longest time to figure out what she saying. Half of our sessions were filled with “What?” But, you know, you would have been proud of me. I never once asked her if she had worked as a telemarketer. I was good about that. She was a tough one, though. No buts--that was pretty much her motto. (with an Indian accent) “It seems to me, Carmen, that you have become an expert at blaming other people for your troubles, but I have heard very little about what you plan to do to alter yourself. Life is not designed to be easy.” As soon as I’d start to say “but,” she’d say, “No buts. No buts, Carmen. As long as you allow yourself to say ‘but,’ you will not change.” She was a tiny woman. She wore the traditional Indian dress, with the dot on her forehead and all that, but she was the drill sergeant of therapy. Every session I expected her to tell me, “Carmen, drop down and give me 100 pushups! No buts!” What? Oh, she dropped me. She said she didn’t want to see me again until I was ready to stop making excuses. Something like, “I am here to help you, Carmen. However, you need to understand that nothing new will happen for you until you are prepared to change. Good-bye.” Then, by the time I was ready to go back to her, she had moved on. To Princeton or...I don’t know. She had bigger things to do.

And then there’s you. But you know you. You don’t have to hear about you. Oh, you want to? Hm. Let’s see, I’ve had Doherty, Queen of Cheese; I’ve had Jack the Hippy; I’ve had Bombay Drill Sergeant. Of course, I’ve had...what do I call him? Whack Daddy.

Mother would feel left out, I suppose, but she’s not a counselor. She doesn’t try to give me advice. She just gets all weepy when I come home with the latest bomb to drop in her lap. Mother, I’m dropping out of school. She cries. Mother, I think I’m pregnant. She cries. Mother, you better take me to the hospital; I just swallowed a bunch of pills. She can barely see to drive. Mother, I hate you. Mother, I hate my life. Mother, I want to die. Mother, Mother, Mother. Every time, she cries. What are we made of, 98% water? Mother must be more like 99.9% or she’d gone by now. Poor Mother. No wonder she goes to every conference she can. I wonder if she cries in her fruit cups.

But you--what do I call you? The mirror. That’s your gig. My Mississippi Mirror. (with a Mississippi accent) “Now, what I see is someone who is constantly looking around for a way to be, for an image to portray.” How’s that? Did I capture it pretty well? The accent needs work, I realize, but I’ve got a pretty good ear. Give me a couple more sessions and I’ll have you down. “What I see, Carmen, is that your episodes of depression often seem to be triggered by your perception that you have failed someone.” (trying to get the accent right, saying the word slightly differently each time) “Failed. Failed. Failed someone.” I’m not quite getting that, am I? Do me a favor--say “failed.” Let me listen.

Oh-ho, now there’s a twist. Maybe you should teach the next Clever Question Workshop yourself, Doc. (Mississippi accent) “Tell me about your ideal counselor--what would he or she be like? What would he or she tell you?” Nice one. I commend you. How’re we doing for time, anyway? I don’t want to...

Okay. My ideal counselor would speak English as a first language. He would be a guy--no offense to you, Doc, but that’s just what I’m seeing. He would have brown hair, thin on the top, and, um, he would have to leave in the middle of the session to go smoke a cigarette. He would know he had to quit, but he wouldn’t be able to do it. He’d have crazy shoulders--just like these bulging bumps that didn’t quite fit the rest of his body. He wouldn’t drink, though--he would never drink anymore, so he would be very good at listening. He’d be a little like the drill sergeant; he wouldn’t let me get away with anything. If I screwed up, though, if I wasn’t ready to change, he wouldn’t send me away. He would stay with me. He wouldn’t go off to Princeton or India or...he wouldn’t die.

I think the time must be up. I think we need to be done. Really.

What would he tell me? He...he wouldn’t say much. He would listen. I could just say everything or say nothing and he would just look at me with his eyes that seemed to say, “Keep talking. I’m with you. I’m with you, Carmen.” What would he tell me? He would just tell me...I was okay. And he would just tell me...he loved me. That’s all. That’s all.

 

 

 

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 Posted: Mon Apr 16th, 2007 11:24 pm
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Alan
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Mana: 
Sorry about the weird centering thing on that monologue.  It just did it on its on when I posted the thing--not intentional at all.

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 05:11 am
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leon
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Mana: 
really wonderful, alan.  great attitude.  perfect dialog.  any actress would love to use all the different accents.  and toward the end when she really has to say what she wants -- is very moving.  i hung on every word.  i was with her, and i wanted to know what kind of counselor she was looking for. 

does it end too abruptly?  not sure.  it's very sparse at the end, and very emotional.  i don't think she would go on and on talking.  so maybe it's perfect.  get more opinions.  leon

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 05:11 am
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leon
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Mana: 
really wonderful, alan.  great attitude.  perfect dialog.  any actress would love to use all the different accents.  and toward the end when she really has to say what she wants -- is very moving.  i hung on every word.  i was with her, and i wanted to know what kind of counselor she was looking for. 

does it end too abruptly?  not sure.  it's very sparse at the end, and very emotional.  i don't think she would go on and on talking.  so maybe it's perfect.  get more opinions.  leon

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 01:23 pm
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Alan
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Mana: 
Thanks, Leon.  The ending is tough.  Of course, there's the ten-minute time limit for students delivering these monologues, and when I've timed this out, it comes to about that.  I'm just not sure what more she would say after making that admission at the end.  She'd probably have to leave after that point, having become that vulnerable. 

Hope others chime in.  Again, thanks for giving it a read.

Alan

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 05:50 pm
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Limerick
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Mana: 
I agree with Leon that this would be a gem for any actress to get her hands on, it offers them a wonderful chance to display depth and range at the same time. 

Part of me wanted to hear the short, shrinkish interjections of the counselor, but I know that defeats the purpose of what you're going for here.  I just enjoy seeing those 'listening' characters on stage and what actors will do with them.

You sketched out a great character and really drew me into her, great accounts of the past counselors.  On the end, I don't think I'd want to hear anymore after her last bit.  I don't doubt that there could be more there, but I think anything after that point would lose a lot of velocity and maybe even fall flat.  If there's work to be done on the ending I'd say it's before that final point.

Last edited on Tue Apr 17th, 2007 05:50 pm by Limerick

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 Posted: Tue Apr 17th, 2007 06:44 pm
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Alan
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Mana: 
Thanks very much.  What matters, what helps most, is simply to know others are out there who will take some time to read what we work away, usually alone, to create. 

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 Posted: Wed Apr 18th, 2007 04:47 am
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leon
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Mana: 
sometimes i feel badly for those who post and get no responses.  i almost always read those entries and give some response.  unless, of course, the offering is like thirty of 100 pages long!

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 Posted: Wed Apr 18th, 2007 07:39 pm
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alan0198
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Mana: 
this works for me.  Great competition piece--as noted already, good chance to performer to show off her versatility, and she can do different attitudes.  The ending is terrific.  After all the attitude and control, a moment of vulnerability.  Terrific writing.

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 Posted: Wed Apr 18th, 2007 09:11 pm
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Alan
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Mana: 
Thanks very much.  Let's hope the publisher at Brooklyn thinks the same.

 

 

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 Posted: Thu Apr 19th, 2007 12:18 am
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timmy
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Mana: 
**...I might delete all the "I think's"....literally all of them, just to tighten it up.

**...assuming it's 2007 (doesn't have to be, but if it is) would Carmen have instant recall of anything 60's? The music, the drug scene. Psychedelic references? Maybe she would. But sometimes Alan the writer is peeking through....Alan knows this stuff. Would Carmen. 60's is approaching 40 odd years ago. Just first impressions.

I loved it. It reads wonderfully.

timmy

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 Posted: Thu Apr 19th, 2007 12:45 am
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Alan
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Mana: 
Ah, excellent advice!  I never noticed the "I thinks," and you're absolutely right.  About the 60's thing, though--I teach high school, and just like the 60's fashions and music are back in, to some degree, many students know a great deal more about the 60s then we oldsters would think...it's fashionable to know about this stuff.  Plus, I'm thinking Carmen is above-average in intelligence.  I hope this is not vain justification on my part.  Anyone else find the 60s references odd coming from a contemporary teen?

Thanks again, Timmy.  I appreciate your comments!

Alan

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 Posted: Thu Apr 19th, 2007 02:14 am
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timmy
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Alan:

i agree w/you (I also teach freshmen to senior range)...Many of the buggers...MANY of them are enjoying the music of a different age (Thank God)...I guess my only point is "Jack" was her "first" shrink. And he's the 60's guy. I don't know how long Carmen has been in therapy, but she ticks off a list of many. If she had him in 7th grade / 8th grade...I'm not sure about that. It's a picky point, and this is so good a piece, maybe it doesn't matter. Just wanted you to hear another voice. My seniors know Jimi Hendrix...my freshmen? I think not as much.

I do agree w/you that "Carmen" might be that special girl who would...

timmy

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