Volpone a new version
One-Man / Woman
Californian Lives (m/f)
Now We Are Pope (m)
Tadzio Speaks . . . (m)
The Butterfly's Wing
First and Fiftieth
A Sense of Loss
The monologues on this page are recommended for auditions or drama classes. In some cases monologues differ slightly from the original play and may include scenes where other characters' dialogue has been omitted. The monologues may be used free of charge, as may other extracts (up to 500 words) from all my plays. There is no obligation, but I like to hear in which situation my monologues are used and reactions from the actor and others who heard it.
Of the two plays featured here, only one, Volpone is a comedy.
My adaptation of Ben Jonson's classic play sticks closely to the original plot. The only changes are two leading characters - Mosca and Corbaccia are now women and some other parts are gender-irrelevant -
and the language has been made easier to understand while retaining the classic feel.
For any performance or use of a whole play in a drama course or any other setting, see
Mosca (age 25 - 45) in Volpone
In this extract Volpone's cunning servant Mosca is tricking the greedy merchant Corvino to offer his wife to help cure what he believes is Volpone's fatal illness.
The College of Physicians, after some debate, concludes that what he needs - and it shames me to pronounce it - what he needs is some young woman to sleep with him. I, most unwillingly, have been sent to find one. I came here at once for your advice, since it concerns you most. I would do nothing that might undermine your cause, for I depend on you utterly, sir. But if I do not find one, the doctors may denounce me to my patron. If I lose my post, all your hopes and ambitions will come to nothing! Even worse, they are all competing to be first to present him with such a gift. I beg you, prevent them if you can.
Lady Would-Be (age 25 - 45) in Volpone
Lady Would-Be, an overpowering personality, believes that Peregrine, the young man she is accosting, is her husband's mistress in disguise. In
the second, she is visiting Volpone, whom she believes to be very ill; for fear of revealing his deception he cannot tell her to leave.
Well, Sir Would-Be, I am surprised. I thought your honour would be more precious to you than to besmirch it thus. A man of your gravity and rank! But some knights care little for the promises they make to ladies - particularly the ones they marry.
(to Peregrine) Sir, a word with you. I would not quarrel or be violent with any gentlewoman. All behaviour that reminds me of peasants makes me shudder. No lady should wrong another of her sex no matter what she wears. In my poor judgement it is a solecism in our sex, if not in manners.
(to her husband) Come, you embarrass me, Sir Politic. It shames me that you are not ashamed to be the lord of a lewd harlot, a common whore, a female devil in male disguise.
I have studied a little medicine, but now I have a passion for music, except in the forenoon when I must spend an hour or two in painting. A lady should practise all the arts. Good conversation, knowledge of literature, a talent to write but above all, as Plato tells us, music. Pythagoras too, I believe, says the same. With face and clothes, our voice is woman's greatest ornament.
Which poet do you prefer? Petrarch, Tasso or Dante? Guarini? Ariosto? Aretine? I have read them all. Here is The Faithful Shepherd. Our English writers often steal from this author. Petrarch is more passionate. Dante is hard. For wit there's Aretine, although his pictures are not for polite company. You are not paying attention.
I really should visit you more often to bring you back to health. Only one man in the world understood me so well that he would lie for hours listening to me speak. Like you his comments were not always to the point. I'll keep talking, sir, long enough that you might sleep.
Volpone (35+) in Volpone
In this extract Volpone is in disguise as the street peddler Doctor Martini Campari.
Fair nobles, lady sirs, if I only had more time to reveal to you the miraculous effects of this oil, which I have modestly called Campari Rosso, or tell you of the countless numbers I have cured of every disease. If only I had the opportunity to tell you all the patents I have secured, the patronage offered by grateful princes throughout Christendom. If only I could repeat all the testimonials deposited with the College of Physicians confirming my outstanding contribution to the welfare of citizens, not only in this fair city but in all the territories and magnificent states of Italy and beyond.
Only I have the talent and knowledge to make this pungent unguent. Let others reveal the great expense I have gone to in furnaces, stills, philtres, pestles and mortars. Modesty prevents me from saying that six hundred ingredients are required for the preparation (including some human fat which I get from anatomy schools).
Gentle nobles, ladies fair, this bottle cannot be valued at less than eight crowns. Nevertheless, today only, six crowns is the price. I know that courtesy prevents you from offering me less. Certainly, I am not asking the true value, one thousand crowns, as paid me by the Most Reverend Cardinals of Monte Carlo, Casino and Roulette, or by the Duke of York and his ten thousand men.
In truth, I despise money. And because of my love for this fair city, I cannot ask even six crowns for this miracle of medicine. Not five, nor four, nor three, nor two, nor even one. A mere half ducat will it cost you. Expect no less. I am not one to bargain and you would not expect me to do so.
Sir Politic Would-Be (age 40+) in Volpone
Sir Politic is an eccentric; in this scene he is expounding on his various ideas to fellow-tourist Peregrine.
The very air here encourages a thousand schemes. I will be honest, sir, wherever I go, I like to think. I have considered importing many goods into the state of Venice. I hope to propose an idea to the City Council. I am known there.
Take matchboxes. They are so small and portable that you or I or anyone, with a grudge against the state, might enter the Arsenal with such a weapon undetected. So, I will warn the government that only known patriots should be allowed to own matchboxes - and those should be so big that they cannot hide in pockets.
Then the problem of quarantine. Why should a ship from Syria or Lebanon, suspected of carrying disease, anchor forty or fifty days outside the city? I will save that cost to the merchant and clear up any doubt within an hour.
I will spend one pound sterling on onions, which as everyone knows, draw out the plague, then bring the ship between two walls. On one I will stretch out a sheet stuck with my onions. The other will have loopholes and bellows constantly applied. The wind will blow into the onions. If they change colour, there is infection. If not, the ship is free.
Seingalt (70s) in Casanova Dreaming
In this one-act play based on the life of the eighteenth-century libertine, the young Giacomo Casanova is visited in his dream by his older self, the Chevalier de Seingalt. In this extract the Chevalier hopes to make money from the rich
but aging Marquise d'Urfé by persuading her he has the power to grant her immortality, in a scheme that involves his making love to her. Selenis is the name Seingalt gives to his younger self.
Madame La Marquise. As you can see from his unclothed state, he is a spirit from from the fifth ring of Aquarius. His name is Selenis and we were discussing your case.
I am both honoured by your faith in me and shocked by your carelessness. As you can see by the expression of disbelief on Selenis' countenance, he fears his brother spirit Paralis may withdraw his gift. Which means that the plan I have devised to ensure the safe transfer of your soul into that of a newly born infant boy is now in grave danger.
The mind, the body must be at rest. Both yours and mine. Only then can our souls gather strength for the task ahead. The holy union when I plant Paralis' seed in your body and your soul starts its long journey to immortality. By allowing your mind to dwell on trivial matters trivial to initiates like ourselves you weaken your soul and risk your future immortality.
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