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.
For any performance or use of a whole play in a drama course or any other setting, see
Nun (age 25 - 60) in Casanova Dreaming
The Nun was a real person who had an affair with the eighteenth-century libertine, Giacomo Casanova.
In this monologue she is seducing the young Casanova while exchanging philosophical points with the Chevalier de Seingalt, who is in fact Casanova's older self.
(to SEINGALT) I have been watching you long enough to know that nothing interesting would happen. I prefer it when your companion is a woman.
(to CASANOVA) Does that shock you young man? I like to observe the game of love.
(to SEINGALT) He blushes.
(to CASANOVA) I once had an affair with your guest. My lover liked to watch. When the Chevalier learnt of the subterfuge, he put on a better performance.
(to SEINGALT) You were deeply in love with me, were you not?
He has his charms but he is still too inexperienced for my tastes. You are wrong about love, Jacques. It is a game, combat with thrust and parry in the drawing-room, the ballroom, in bed. It is only a madness if you surrender to it. The strong can master it. Make your lover your friend and love will last a lifetime. If your lover is your goddess, you will always suffer. But you are right, I should go.
Grandmother (age 60+) in Sunset; the original script forms part of Californian Lives; a revised version will
run at the 2019 Edinburgh Fringe
In this one-woman play the unnamed woman remembers her first date, the man she married and their life
together. As she talks to her unseen husband her mood swings from happiness to triumph to resignation to
Do you remember the first time we held hands? Our first date. Iíd asked you to take me
to the fun fair and you were not impressed. You were a young lawyer with ambition, not
a teenager with nothing to do. But you took it in your stride. ďSure,Ē you said and off we
It was the middle of summer. The hottest day of the year. You were sweating and trying
not to show it. Children all around us screaming, but I didnít hear them. All I saw and
heard was you, five foot ten, slim and handsome, quiet and polite. Pigheaded too,
though it took me time to find that out. I wanted to go on the roller coaster and you
pretended it was a good idea. You waited till I was seated with my skirt tucked under
me, then you got in, pulled down the safety bar and, without even asking, took my hand.
Of course other boys had held my hand. But they only wanted one thing. One hand
around my shoulder, casually reaching down. The other slowly moving up my leg. None
of them got as far as they wanted, although two or three got close. I didnít blame them.
I envied them. Girl or boy, when you're that age your body and emotions pull you this
way and that. I wanted to do what they were doing, give them what they wanted, get
what I wanted myself. But back then, it was hard for women. There was the pill and Free
Love but you still didnít know what was right - right for you, right for your boyfriend. Or
your parents waiting at home. So I just sat tight and did nothing and hoped that was the
right thing for me.
But you didn't try anything. Your hand just sat there, holding mine like it was saying Iím
here if you need me. I liked that. Even when we were tearing down that slope and
rushing round every curve, jerked this way and that, you against me, me against you, me
having the time of my life, you pretending you were having fun, the biggest thrill I had
that day was your hand holding mine.
It had to be Richard. The child we loved most. Who drifted from school to university, to
politics, to protest, to drugs and despair. The boy with no friends who saw injustice
everywhere. The young man who was always alone. I knew about the drugs long before
you did. ďTheyíre like alcohol or tobacco, Mum; theyíre ok if you know what youíre
doing.Ē The most passionate I ever heard him speak. What do you say? How do you
reach out to a twenty-three year old when youíre over fifty and you have no idea the life
he leads? How could I have stopped him? What could I have done? I saw the hurt. I
never understood where it came from, I could never put it right, but I could see it, I could
feel it. And he died from it, David, he died, he died!
Iíd never seen you cry before. But your eyes were damp at the funeral and later that day
you shouted at Lisa when she said something typically insensitive. Then I heard you in
the bedroom. I came in, you looked at me and tried to smile but could not stop the
tears. I sat beside you and held you. All day I had cried for Richard. At that moment I was
crying for you.
Diner (age 30 - 40) in Los Feliz, which forms part of Californian Lives
The unnamed diner in this one-man play strikes up a conversation with the audience, relating what happened when he met the woman of his dreams. It is
a play that arouses strong and often contrasting emotions in women and men.
I pull up at a Stop sign and Iím waiting for the traffic to clear when I turn and what do I see in the garden right next to me but the woman of my dreams. Not bimbo, not babe, one hundred percent serious woman. Thirty-one, thirty-two, long black hair, face a little like that girl in the last Tom Cruise movie. Sleeveless blouse and pants showing off every curve. But not cheap. This woman had class. And a nice house and plenty of time to spend making her garden look good.
There I was sitting in my car, looking her over like any guy would. She looks up and for a second she catches my eye and Iím thinking, without thinking, know what I mean, that I want to make love to her all night long. And I mean love. A bimbo you screw. A babe you talk to a bit, then screw. A woman like this, you make love. Then the guy in the car behind me is sounding his horn because I havenít moved and the road is clear. So I move off and head for the office and suddenly I donít know whether the world is wonderful or a piece of shit. Wonderful, because sheís in it. Or shit because Iím not making it with her.
All the time, the feeling inside me is getting stronger and stronger. This woman is together. Sheís got it all. Personality, looks, money. And she likes spending time with me. That makes me feel so good. Like I could burst with pride. I want her so bad Iíll do anything. And I donít mean I want to screw her - well, of course I do - but I want to marry her first. Iíll wait if I have to. Change jobs, apartments. Do whatever it takes to get her. Itís like Iíve suddenly grown up. When me and Linda got wed I was twenty-six, but I was little more than a kid, all mouth and balls and nothing between the ears. So the mouth and balls have shrunk a little and thatís no bad thing and my head is coming together for the first time in my life. Itís all thanks to her.
Then it hits me. Iím pushing away my plate and waiting for the waitress to come and get it and itís like those movies where the bad guy says something he shouldnít and the good guy doesnít figure it out for a couple of scenes. Like when the cop realises this other character is telling him something that only the murderer would know. I remember Melanie said something about her brother working in the same town as Linda and Iím thinking how does she know that? So I ask her.
ďMaybe you told me sometime,Ē she says. ďDoes it matter?Ē
The way she says this, her voice is all friendly but her eyes arenít. I feel like someone falling down a cliff desperately trying to catch hold of something before he hits the rocks.
Priest (age 40 - 60) in Angel
The Roman Catholic - and therefore nominally celibate - Priest in this one-man play is going through a profound spiritual crisis, which gradually becomes clear as
he unburdens himself to an unseen visitor - a visitor who plays a highly significant role in his life.
Some women come straight out with it: ďAre you never tempted, Father?Ē
Most of the time itís curiosity, but sometimes itís . . . an invitation. You can see it in their eyes, wide open, searching. Their body language, so subtle youíd hardly notice it. Chest a little forward. Their mouth almost offering a kiss. What they really want to know is are they so feminine they have the power to seduce even a man of the cloth?
What do I tell them? Weíre all tempted, I say, but prayer can save us all from sin.
And yet, you know something, Michael?
Most of the time it was me, not them, that wanted to sin, that was desperate to sin. I would want every woman I saw, teenager, grandmother, all the ages inbetween. I would long for warm skin and flowing hair, light perfumes and earthier scents. My eyes would be lured by breasts and rumps, high heels and make-up, all the symbols of femininity.
For ten or more years, Michael, night after night, I made love to women. My hand rested on firm ripe bosoms; my mouth kissed soft red lips. I unzipped skirts and watched them fall, flicked open bra clasps with agile fingers. Again
and again in that bed upstairs, I satiated my lust with every woman who crossed my path and took my fancy.
Frederick Rolfe (50s) in Now We Are Pope
Writer Frederick Rolfe ("Baron Corvo" 1860 - 1913) was a complex, cantankerous and contradictory man who destroyed friendships with the same intensity he sought to make them.
A convert to Catholicism, his greatest ambition was to be a priest, but he was twice expelled from seminary. In this one-man play, on the last day of his life, in Venice, he talks to his unseen companion, Zildo.
No matter. I would have given it all up for the Church. The happiest day of my life was when I received into the Faith. It should have been when I became a priest. But my vocation, given by God, was denied to me by jealous Pharisees who could not accept that a man of my abilities should be granted the privileges that they enjoyed. Monsignor James Campbell. The Reverend William Rooney. Bishop Hugh MacDonald of Aberdeen and many, many more were deaf to Godís command. Godís command, not mine. A roll of infamy that will echo down the ages.
What good I could have done the Church! Make me not just a priest, not even a Cardinal. Make me Pope and I would cleanse the church of the hypocrites and toads and money-lenders. As Pope I would restore the Faith to the lands where it was forgotten. Bring order out of the Chaos that threatens all Europe. Instead of which, I was forced into spiritual exile. I have always found the Faith comfortable but the Faithful intolerable, almost every Catholick a sedulous ape, a treacherous snob, a slanderer, an oppressor or a liar.
I came alive in Venice, Zildo. Sono rinato a Venezia. Beauty surrounds us here. Beauty and history. Peace and solitude Ė although there is more peace and solitude on the waters of the lagoon than in the streets and churches.
I am a Venetian, Zildo. Sono veneziano, almost as Venetian as you are. I have swum in the waters in the coldest of winters. I am a member of the Bucintoro and my prowess as a gondoliere is recognised by all. I have explored every inlet of the lagoon in my bark, seen the sun rise from La Salute and seen it set from the shores of Burano.
There have been days when I have had no tobacco, when the Alps have been covered with snow and the wind has brought perishing cold. I have walked all night through deserted streets, shivered sleepless on the boat, or covered by one thin blanket hunkered down in servantsí quarters with no privacy or heating arrangements whatsoever. I have almost died of cold and hunger, for the want of proper clothes, light and warmth, beef and wine.
I do not blame Venice, Zildo. Every one of my torments has been imposed by my enemies; Veniceís beauty has offered solace in return. As always, I have survived, Zildo, and see the luxury I am in Ė a roof over my head, my papers around me, my tobacco and cigarettes . . .
Tadzio (age 50+) in Tadzio Speaks . . .
Tadzio was the beautiful youth and obsession of the older man Aschenbach in Thomas Mann's (and Luchino Visconti's) classic tale Death in Venice. In the original story the boy remains silent
and we only learn of Aschenbach's fate. But the encounter must have had a profound effect on youth; in this one-man play, years later Tadzio looks back at that fateful summer and finally speaks . . .
Fourteen. Neither a boy nor a man. During the day I was a child, running, laughing, playing hide-and-seek. My favourite refuge was an alcove in a distant corridor; if Jaschiu was the hunter he would leave me to last, if pursued, he would slip in beside me, whispering private jokes that I didnít always understand.
At night at dinner everything was different. Sometimes I felt very adult and spoke with an adult's gravity, paying great attention to what I said. Then my sisters would laugh at me and Iíd be angry and stay stubbornly silent until Mother threatened me with bed. At other times I resented sitting stiffly in stiff clothes as my sisters laughed their silly laugh, as Mother and Mademoiselle discussed our education and the guests around us clinked their noisy cutlery and talked and talked and talked.
There were too many people, I told myself; I wanted to be alone, or with a close friend or far far away. In truth, I didnít know what I wanted, only that within me there was an unknown need, an itch that tormented just out of reach. Oh to be free, I thought to myself, ignorant of what freedom was, of what it might be for.
One morning I came out of the water, shivering with cold. Wrapped in a towel, I lay back on the sand and closed my eyes. In that strange darkness my mind wandered between consciousness and sleep, between individuality and the universal, between self-knowledge and self-discovery. I sensed new emotions, that I neither recognised nor understood, that I wasnít yet ready to embrace.
Slowly I opened my eyes and in the harsh sunlight saw only one thing, an old man in a deck-chair reading a book. I knew he was old from his clothes, the careful manner with which he turned the pages, his calm expression. Disorientated still, it seemed to me that the world was a void in which only this stranger floated; unthinkingly I stared at him, trying to understand him, until his glance fell on mine. Suddenly aware of my rudeness, I closed my eyes, turned my head and wished him away. The day was hot and I began to doze; when I woke he had gone.
What I wanted do was run away, lock myself in my room. There I could cry, shout, beat my bed, throw off the violent emotion surging within me. Only then, when I lay exhausted, would I be able to try to understand why I felt betrayed. But I could not move. While my mind swirled in pain and confusion I could only sit, be polite to Mother, listen to my irritating sisters and keep my eyes from the man who sat a few tables away, like a snake that had crawled back into its shedded skin. Damn you! I thought, using a word that I had never allowed myself before. Damn you for what you have done to yourself, for what you are doing to me.
That night I dreamt of him again. The young man with the old man's eyes reached out to me, brought his face to mine and whispered in my ear, both exciting me and frightening me. I wanted him close to me and I wanted to push him away. He became a being both young and old, male and female, hideous and beautiful.
I reached out to embrace him. Our bodies touched, we kissed, but in our kiss he faded and I woke to find myself trembling as I clasped the bolster, the covers twisted and half off the bed.
I knew what had happened and I knew that I wanted it to happen again. What I didnít know is whether I wanted it with him or with anyone other than him.
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