We are getting into monologues
|Lesson 6: Monologues
We are now into the Artsy part of the class and the focus this week is on monologues. A monologue is a device where a character does any number of things. First it’s a good place to express the Central Character’s want need or desire. The Audience will be looking for that early on. Second it is an opportunity to set up in the drama things the audience needs to know that won’t be explained in the dialogues. A drama is the tip of an iceberg full of submerged storyline and down there are unspoken things and undercurrents. If the audience needs to know what some of these are, monologues are a technique for expressing them.
In the Greek plays a "Chorus" was often used to provide the exposition we see in a novel. This was not like a church chorus but one or more actors who stood on the stage and provided background. It is seldom seen anymore but it was a cool device. They are to a stage drama what exposition is to a novel. They are also an opportunity to “review the bidding.” to show the audience what a character is thinking about what they did or said. Sometimes when you realize something is missing and you need to fit it in, a monologue can serve that purpose.
Historically the playwright wrote these poetically. In this way someone listening received a cue that they were hearing a monologue by the way the words sounded. For Shakespeare the Globe Theater had cheap tickets for the courtyard where an audience could hear what was being said without actually seeing the stage. When the actors shifted into iambic pentameter the listeners knew there was a monologue taking place. It was more than just words it was a resonance to the speaking that had an unmistakable signature. Today students studying Shakespeare are often required to memorize a soliloquy and recite it to the class. Musicals became popular forms of theater drama when the monologues were turned into songs.
The point of all this is that a playwright using monologues needs to make them sound distinctively different. They can be written in prose but the prose must have a poetic quality. They must sound distinctively different from the banter of the dialogue. If you are poetically inclined this should not be to difficult a task achieve, but be aware that a monologue is more than a paragraph of exposition where length alone distinguishes it from dialogue That it is more than a character spouting exposition as it appears in a novel.
So in this lesson I want you to write the monologues in a way that they have resonance… Perhaps the resonance of a poem, a song or a rappers chant but something that has a rhythm or beat. It can be disguised as prose or written any way you want but it must have a distinctive tempo, meter and sound. It must appeal in some way to the ear, and not just the minds eye. Have fun with it. If anyone ever asks you what resonance is you will know what they are talking about.