Monologues and More

Available at Biz Books, Vancouver

info@bizbooks.net


Recent feedback, Oct. 2011


As a high school drama instructor, it is difficult to find material for student performers that is relevant and accesible. Harvey Ostroff's Monologues and More provides just that; topical, well crafted monologues for the teenaged performer.

                                Marco Soriano, Vancouver, BC

Response from the Pilot Project
Elgin Park Secondary, Surrey. B.C.


Teacher Evaluation

My students praised the selection. They said there was something that each of them could relate to. 

I found the collection easy to use and the performances were wonderful.

Both the students and myself found the monologues relevant to their lives and deep enough to get a lot out of each performance.

I can highly recommend Harvey Ostroff's monologues for use in the classroom.

Stan Engstrom.


Student Evaluations (anonymous responses)

1. Anorexia:  I liked doing this project. It was really great to read and perform monologues that are up to date and written for people our age.

2. Mothers!:  These particular monologues really helped showcase the talent in our class.

3. Cheating:  The material was very well related to young people. Very impressed.

4. The Bully: I really enjoyed them because they are really good for our age.

5. The Nerd.  I loved playing the nerd in this monologue. Thank you for writing it.

6. Chimo the Wonder Dog:It was powerful and very well written. It sounded like an actual teenager talking.

7. Shoplifting: I thought it was very comic and the topic it addressed was true.

8. The Kiss:  I enjoyed the project. The monologues were relatable enough that the actors were able to bring real emotions into their performances.

9. Life Sucks: My project was very enjoyable and I enjoyed everyone else's interpretations of the monologues.   

10. Just Say No: I really liked it. All monologues for teenagers are so outdated. This was a refreshing change.

10. Just Say No: I really liked it. All monologues for teenagers are so outdated. This was a refreshing change.

During my thirty-four years teaching drama in the public school system, I developed a senior class project that would culminate with the performance of two contrasting monologues. This was the Drama final. Marks were allotted for a whole list of variables based on vocal delivery, physical aspects of character, emotional clarity, effect on the audience and so on.

The actors in my classes took up the challenge and did their best. However, there was one major obstacle to overcome. It was always difficult to find monologues that were suitable or relevant to the students’ experiences and since most auditors would want to see the actor perform as naturally as possible, playing a character much older or beyond the realm of that actor’s experience was detrimental to the effectiveness of the presentation. 

In 2007/2008 I wrote a play entitled Probable Destiny (now out to potential producers) that dealt with a hostage situation in a senior high school classroom three weeks prior to final exams. I had a staged reading of the work in order to determine language, content and relevance and several of the young actors commented on the monologues in the piece, two of them requesting use of the work for auditions to theatre school.

 It was an epiphany. Why not try my hand at writing pieces for serious senior high school students. After thirty years of working closely with young people and because there is a certain amount of trust and intimacy that is developed between the theatre instructors and their actors. Because I am a playwright as well as a drama teacher, I felt that I knew these kids and could write works that would be appealing, relevant and accessible to young thespians, therefore this text. 

Included below are four examples from the text. Each of the fifty eight monologues is followed by Given Circumstances and Questions for the Actor in order to help your students to realize their stage character. There is also a detailed section on performance.


To order the text email:  harvostroff@gmail.com


The Nerd

M/Comic


Bernard: I’m a nerd. Look at me, can’t you tell? I’m skinny. I’ve got lousy eyesight, which forces me to wear thick glasses.  I tried contacts. What a joke. Not for me. I even have a pocket protector. Yes, that’s right. I come with all of the nerd accessories. I’m proud I’m a nerd. Hey, I’m in pretty good company. Stephen King is a nerd and Bill Gates, richest man in the world, and Ken Jennings biggest winner on Jeopardy. He is even a self-professed nerd.

And how about that Napolean Dynamite? Dy-no-mite.

I am a whiz on my computer, I design web-pages for small companies and make all kinds of money I don’t how to spend. I’m not very athletic although, having to escape Neanderthal bullies all of my life, I’ve developed pretty decent running skills. Pretty good lungs too. They’ve never seen smoke of any kind.

Hello? Did you just call me a nerd? You did, well thank you very much. I appreciate it. You, on the other hand are a Piltdown man, a very special sort. You’re entirely welcome, goodbye, have a nice day.  (Laughs.) There is no such thing as the Piltdown man. It’s a hoax and he’s too stupid to know that. I love being a nerd.

 

Given Circumstances

 

 Bernard is in a park on a lovely day in June. He wears a short-sleeved shirt buttoned up to the collar and knee length pants with clean sneakers. His laptop is open and he is talking to a woman, a stranger on her lunch hour who has just asked him what he’s doing with a computer when, on such a lovely day, he could be out with a friend or girlfriend.

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Questions for the Actor

Describe Bernard’s personality.

What kind of a mood is he in?

What happened just before he arrived at the bench?

What are his particular physical attributes and mannerisms?

           What was he doing in the park in the first place?

How does he feel about being asked the questions?

Is the person he’s talking to a good listener?

Who is the second person he speaks with?

Has his original listener left or is the last line focused on her?

How can you play him for real and avoid caricature?

 

 The Funeral

M/Dramatic

 Tommy: Yeah, do you want to know what I’m thinking Sean? I’m thinking about the time they had these women from Mothers against Drunk Drivers at that assembly and we went to your car afterwards and had a few beers. We were immortal. I remember how we laughed during the presentation, even when they showed the accidents on the screen. It doesn’t seem so funny anymore.

 We took your keys, I watched Sherri take them away from you. What were you thinking? Did you have one of those magnet boxes? It would have taken you no more than ten minutes to walk home from her place you stupid, stupid, bastard.

 It’s crazy. We had plans man. We were friends forever… We were going to backpack in France this summer. We were… Ah forget about it.

  You could have asked me for a ride. I was the designated driver. I was drinking straight Seven Up. How could you be so ‘effing’ dumb?

 You probably don’t know this but Kelly had some kind of a spinal injury. They say she’ll never walk again. How could you let her into your car? I’m so pissed at you I don’t know how to feel…. God bless you Sean. I guess stupid isn’t a sin, it’s just stupid... I’ll miss you bro. (Rises and exits.)

 

Given Circumstances

 

It is an early summer afternoon. Tommy is at the cemetery. He wears jeans and a cotton shirt. He has been crying. He didn’t attend Sean’s funeral yesterday because he was too emotionally upset to do so. There is a light drizzle falling and the smell of newly mown grass and he is trying to hold it together while saying goodbye. There is another funeral in the distance. He talks to Sean as if he is really there.

 

Questions for the Actor

Describe Tommy’s personality.

Why did he decide that he could face the gravesite today?

What had he been doing before he arrived on the scene.

What are his particular physical attributes and mannerisms?

Is he truly angry?

When and how did he find out about Sean’s passing?

What was Kelly’s relationship with the boys?

Can he hold back the tears at the end of the monologue?


Youtube.com

F/Dramatic

Estrella:  Hi everyone I’m Estrella. all of my friends are making video Blogs and sending them to Youtube so I thought I would make one too. It’s nice to meet you Hi. My life sucks but that’s okay. I bet everyone who is watching feels the same way. I live in Surrey, British Columbia. I graduate high school in three weeks and I have no idea what to do after that. Surrey is, like a suburb outside of Vancouver. It’s okay but they make a lot of jokes about Surrey girls. Nobody I know is like that.

 The reason I made this blog is, like, so I could, like say I’m sorry to everyone. I’m a dork. When I said before that all of my friends were making blogs, I lied. I only have one friend, her name is Samantha Kincaid and…I’m sorry to say this but she’s as much of a loser as I am. I love you Sam. I’m sorry I said that.

 

So, here goes, first of all I want to say I’m sorry to all of you who are watching. Maybe somebody out there will connect and … Just a minute I forgot to play my tunes. (Plays something slow and sad on a small boom box) Yeah, that’s better. So maybe you’ll connect and that will make me, like feel better.

Okay, Mom, I’m sorry that I put you through such hell every day and that you have to tell me to wait until, like, I have kids of my own because I’m never going to have kids of my own. Dad, I’m sorry that you and mom have to work so hard to support a worthless…that’s what you call me … brat like me. Teachers, especially, Mr. Goldenberg who I think cares about me, I’m sorry I’m not smart and that I get, like, too depressed to do my homework. Pastor Johnston, I’m sorry that I don’t believe in God and … Never mind, I guess that’s enough for my first blog. I’ll try to do a better one next week. G’bye.

 

Given Circumstances

 

A day in January: Estrella Rodrigues is sitting in her tidy room in front of her computer screen and her camcorder is pointed at her head. She wears jeans and a black tee shirt. She is struggling at first with setting up her equipment and when she gets it all ready she keeps testing it to make certain that it is working. She has very low self-esteem and is reaching out with this video blog. She spends most of her time on line. Her chatline friends are more real to her than the kids at her school. She is a Youtube and Facebook junkie.

 

Questions for the Actor

 

Detail Estella’s background and personality.

What are her particular physical attributes and mannerisms?

What was her day like before she got home?

Talk about Sam and their relationship?

Talk about her home life?

Is she merely shy or does her sadness overwhelm her?

How do you play the scene without resorting to melodrama?


American Idol 

F/Comic

Candace: That’s Candace not Candy, Candy isn’t a serious name and I’m a serious gal from Waco, Texas. I’m going right to the top. Numero uno. You’d better believe it. So Simon, you’d better forget all about your sarcastic side ‘cause you’re going to fall in love with me. Even if you are gay…you are, aren’t you? Is he Ryan? Whoopsie. Well if you were, you would but since you’re not…Are you sure, Ryan? Oh,  so I guess  you’re the one that’s…Never mind.

Love your dress Paula. You sure look hot for such an old lady. I hope I can look as good when I get to be your age. Of course, then I’d have to be rich enough for all those face-lifts and tummy tucks and botox. Who is your plastic surgeon anyways? (Little wave.) Hi Randy. God this is sooo exciting. You’re my favourite one. You want to know why? I’ll tell you. It’s because you’re so cute and because you always find something positive to say even if the act sucks. Like that girl just before me, what’s up with her. How did she even have the nerve to get up on this stage. She looked like a camel with that long nose and bucked-teeth and her song, “ Fly me to the Moon.” She’ll never fly anywhere. She couldn’t get by homeland security. The metal detectors would go crazy with those braces of hers. What did you say about her performance Simon? Oh, yeah. The tiles would fall off in the bathroom if she dared to sing in the shower.

(Laughs.) What shall I sing? Well first I’d like to dedicate this song to my two favourite people, my mama and George W. Bush. It’s the Yellow Rose of Texas … I wonder if you all ought to stand? Yeah, stand up. You, too Simon. Well if you aren’t gonna stand, then I’m just not going to sing. Sorry Mama, George. W., Buh Bye.


Given Circumstances

 

It is an August evening in Houston Texas. Candace is onstage at the American Idol try-outs. She wears garish tight clothing and far too much make-up. She has been waiting for this moment all of her life. Her parents have always encouraged her and told her she was wonderful despite her lack of talent and her friends are all in the audience. She tries to overcome her nervousness with a brash and brassy attitude.

 

Questions for the Actor

 

Describe Candace’s background and personality.

Why did she decide that he could face the audience today?

What had she been doing before he arrived on stage.

What are her particular physical attributes and mannerisms?

Is she aware that she is insulting the judges?

Is she a true fan of the show or is this an act?

How does she interact with the other contestants?

Should she cry at the end of the monologue?

 

 



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