One of the ironies of musicals is that if a monologue shows up, it almost always will get turned into a song. So, Musical Theatre Worldwide doesn’t have a ton of monologues yet. However, we have reached out to our head writer and gotten some monologues from his straight plays and a couple of pieces from musicals that were long enough.
(from American Scenes)
Context: This monologue is taken from a short play within a play depicting the audio of the Emergency Operators and Responders on September 11, 2001.
OPERATOR: Operator 9347, how may I assist you? (listens) Yes, ma’am. We know. We heard. (listens) I don’t know, ma’am. I don’t know who did this. I don’t know why they did this? I just…I just don’t know. I can’t ma’am. I can’t tell you that. It’s not going to be alright and right now (she stops, struggling with what to say) right now I can’t think of one word, one phrase to say that will help anyone, that will make any of this look any better… and that’s my job, to help people. Right now I’m helpless. I wonder… I wonder how we got here. How can someone hate someone so much that they… that they… do this?(she breaks down, crying) I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry. Ma’am, are you hurt? You are? Can you walk? You can’t. I am so sorry. We’ll get someone to you. (to dispatcher #1) I need someone on the ground.
JFK - #1
As part of American Scenes, Actors were asked to record the memories of relatives who were alive on the day JFK was assassinated.
I was at the University of Illinois. I remember that one of the students came into class and she was in tears and she said, "JFK has been shot". I don't know if at that time he had been declared dead or not but it was a shock to all of us. I remember our professor who was kind of one of those real intellectual guys with the round glasses and not animated in anyway but just very matter-of-fact. He said, "I think we need to dismiss our class." So we were all dismissed from class and got to go our own ways. I have no idea where I went after that. But that's where I was and the after is a blur. But its very vivid to me. I forget Ellen's last name. But her name was Ellen, the girl who came in crying, saying that JFK had been shot. It was hard for all of us. It was, it really was. You couldn't even feel sadness at that time. It was just an unbelievable situation that wasn't supposed to happen in the United States and it happened to such a young president with children and a wife and it just never entered your mind so it was so shocking. That's about all that I remember.
JFK - #2
I was working as a Clerk Typist at Fort Belvoir Virgina. This Master Sergeant came in and yelled that the President had been shot. He was sort of a jokester, so we told him that it wasn’t funny, but then more people came in and told us that it had happened. I remember we went down to the personnel office where there was a radio and we just sat around and listened in disbelief. There were about thirty or forty men around the radio. It was the army, so we had to go back to work, but we didn’t get a lot of work done that afternoon. Up until a few years ago, I could have told you everybody’s names from that day. I don’t remember the names any more, but I can still see every single face. I remember later, standing around the TV and seeing the Vice President get sworn in.
JFK - #3
I remember I was in the kitchen, probably making breakfast, lunch, I’m not sure, and the radio came on and they said they interrupted the station and they said “President Kennedy has been shot”, but they didn’t know anything else because we didn’t have that instant kind of digital TV that we have now, and the internet, and we had to wait. And the kids, the older kids were in school. Your dad was not at the time, I don’t recall, and umm… so we hovered around the radio, I remember, in the kitchen. I can remember it because it was next to my refrigerator and I just stood there, like in frozen time, like ‘this can’t be happening, somebody can’t be assassinated these days that they could take a shot at the president.’ The day turned out to be really sad when we found at that he had expired and did not make it. Well, he made it to the hospital but he was dead. When you saw pictures of Jacqueline on the plane in her blood splattered, beautiful pink outfit that was just splattered in blood that she insisted on keeping on and they were swearing in Lyndon Johnson on the plane to be president. It was really hard, like, this is history going on before me, that I never would have thought I would have experienced in this lifetime. It was very traumatic. It was very hard. Hard to think about it.
JFK - #4
I was in uh, my kitchen getting lunch for one of the children that came back from school for lunch. And he came in and he said, “Mom, there’s no Bozo,” and I went into the living room thinking there’s something wrong with the television and at that point they’d already broken in that President Kennedy had been shot. They weren’t sure if he had passed away but he was shot, they were taking him to the hospital. And then from that point on I think all the people in the house where were kids and my mother-in-law and eventually my husband came home. We just watched television basically almost for twenty-four hours. For us it was something we had never experienced as far as anyone attacking the president. It was just amazing when I think about it now – the security that we have and they didn’t have then. They didn’t have any when they were taking Oswald out to go to another jail, he was just in the middle of a crowd of officers and that’s when Ruby shot him. That was on live TV. We saw that. We basically just waited for all the news to come out. There wasn’t a station that didn’t have it. We really didn’t have many stations at that point. President Kennedy was the first president I ever voted for. Because he was kind of in our age group, a little older, but our age, there was a lot riding with him that we thought would better us, better our lives.
(From In These Parts (or Main-Travelled Roads))
Aggie and Dave have fallen on hard times. Dave has gotten colder, more distant, and almost abusive to Aggie as his business has started to fail. Aggie has just discovered that Dave has pawned their prize ‘spode’, expensive China that was a wedding gift from their mother.)
Dave, you took the Spode? Those plates were a wedding gift from my Ma. Dave, the harvest is almost over. If you sell the plates, if you go south, we’ve got nobody here to harvest our crops, we don’t have the plates, we’ve got nothing left. Nothing. Winter’s coming and we can’t afford to throw any more money at the threshing business. If you’re going to sell anything, that money’s got to go toward the winter… and toward seed for next year. Dave! You didn’t buy an engine when you should have and that chapter is closed! Just listen to me! Listen to me, you cannot do this, you stupid, stupid, bullheaded man!
(She stops, holding her face as if she’s been slapped.)
How could you? How could you? Just stop. There’s nothing you can say. One wrong turn on the road somewhere and we ended up here. You do what you need to, Dave. Sell what you need to. Go!
(From Harlequin Rhapsody)
The Woman has discovered that she is dying. She has gone to find The Man because he is the one person who still clings to her memory and might keep her tied to the Earth after she passes.
Do you think that we ran into each other by accident today? I had to see you. I had to ... ask you something. Then when I saw you I couldn't do it. Look, I've had some time in the past little while to take a bit more objective look at the things around us and what they mean. I don't know if God, or Jesus, or, pick a name, is still "alive" in the sense we mean it, or if he ever was, but I do know that he wanted to be remembered, so in that sense he still is alive. Do you see. Everything around is still shakes with the echoes of him. Maybe what he said so long ago wasn't so loud, but he put enough force behind it so we still hear him today. His voice, his presence is still here. For me, I know that there's somewhere I have to get to, and I can't get there until the echoes of me here are gone, and I'm a little impatient if you want to know the truth. I've led a fruitful, but mundane existence on this world and I'm ready for it to be completely over. No, argument please. I'm not worried about anyone else, they'll forget me soon enough. But you, you still sing the songs you wrote for me, still gaze at stars like I'm beside you, still whisper words to me.
My love, I'm not asking not to be remembered. I'm asking simply to die, to be allowed to fade away, that's all. Let me die. Savor my memory on occasion, but don't keep me here until you go.