Add the contact block here or your own custom code


Monologues - Classic Bovine Blog

Monologues - Classic Bovine Blog

  • by
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2016

This blog is part of a series of "Classic Bovine Blogs." These are blog posts that we managed to recover from our old website that crashed in 2014. This blog was written by Eric Farone and originally posted on April 8th, 2011. 

Edit-cation ~ Volume 1, Issue 3

Monologues (Asides and Soliloquies)

Remember, all edits must serve the scene that is on stage currently, not the scene we want to bring in from the sides. The original scene is being shown to the audience for a reason. It is up to the folks on the side of the stage to serve the scene with the edit.

What is a Monologue?

A monologue is a speech done by one person on stage for a period of time. This can be to the audience, to another character in the scene, to a group of characters or even to characters who are not being played by any one on stage (like talking to a bartender who is invisible to the audience).

What is an Aside?

An Aside is a type of monologue, where a character from the scene comes down and tells the audience something that the character is feeling or thinking. Asides are always about the true thoughts or feelings of the character.

What is a Soliloquy?

A Soliloquy is a type of monologue where the character is alone on stage and is talking to him or her self.

So, Soliloquies and Asides are types of monologues.

How do I initiate a Monologue?

· If your character is starting a monologue to another character in the improv scene, they need to take focus by eye contact and start talking. They hold the focus by going on about whatever their monologue is about without breaking eye contact or allowing for too many breaks in the speech. The more you play with people the more that this type of focus is loosened and players will read each other. The other players continue with stage business while listening.

· If your character is starting an Aside type of Monologue. The player must physically “jump out of time and space” and come down stage. The players who are on stage, but not doing the aside freeze. An Aside is a glimpse into the head of the character, therefore the other characters must freeze until the Aside is over and the character jumps back into the scene. You can lean into the audience a bit like you are sharing a secret with them, depending on the aside. By the way, when I say jump, I mean move fast. You have to move quickly enough that no one else in the scene follows you downstage and knows to freeze.

· If your character wants to start a soliloquy type of monologue, they just need to start talking about the matter at hand when they are alone on stage. I love soliloquies because they are so very theatrical, but because we are doing a group activity like improv, you are rarely alone on stage. If you ever do find yourself alone on stage, jump on a soliloquy. It’s a lot better than looking awkward and trying to find some stage business. Remember, soliloquies are the character talking to themselves on stage, aloud, about something that matters.

· If your character is starting a monologue to a group, they need to gather the group or jump out of the group and start addressing the entire group. Staging for these scenes can be difficult. For example, should you be Up Center facing the audience and have the other actors with their backs to the audience (if you are in this type of staging, the playwright is addressing the audience through addressing the group on stage, think Ayn Rand). You can also go Up Left or Up Right and hope that the group goes up stage on the other side of the stage and both factions cheat out (or bend the space).

· The player (not the character) wants to address the audience in a monologue. This is used in Comedic Improv when the player wants to say something to the audience. The people on stage don’t usually freeze for this type of monologue.

· I don’t recommend starting a monologue to someone who is not there, because in improv, whomever you are addressing will be usually filled out by another player.

Aside Example:

Jennifer: John, that is horrible about you and Jessica. So it was out of nowhere?

John: Yeah, I have no idea why she left. It was kind of weird.

(John Leaps Downstage to initiate and Aside, Player 1 freezes) I had been treating Jessica poorly for about 6 months, because I wanted to break up with her but I didn’t want Jennifer thinking that broke up with her sister to be with her.

Player 1: (Runs back into the scene, Jennifer unfreezes) Totally out of the blue.

In the above example Jennifer knows to freeze because John has made such an abrupt move downstage toward the audience. does not leave the scene, but she could after the gate swings back to the original scene. By staying out on stage we can further the scene into the future or give more background information if needed.

Soliloquy Example:

Jennifer: John, that is horrible about you and Jessica. So it was out of nowhere?

John: Yeah, I have no idea why she left. It was kind of weird.

Jennifer: I have to get that box from in back. (Exits)

John: Oh my God, if she sees Jessicas body in back I will have to kill her too.

Jennifer: (enters carrying a box) Got it. Well I guess I should be going.

In the above example Jennifer decided to leave the stage. John took the opportunity to give us more information in the form of a Soliloquy.

Monologue to the Audience Example:

Jennifer: John, that is horrible about you and Jessica. So it was out of nowhere?

John: Yeah, I have no idea why she left. It was kind of weird.

(The player playing John turns downstage and addresses the audience as the actor, not the character.) Guys are dumb. I have been dumped like 6 times in my life and I have never known why.

Jennifer: I know why she left you.

In the above example the player who was playing John’s character decided to talk about his personal experience to help inform the scene or maybe to try to get a laugh from the audience. This type of information can help influence a scene and if the monologue is honest, possibly make the scene more honest.

Monologue to a Character Example

Jennifer: John, that is horrible about you and Jessica. So it was out of nowhere?

John: Yeah, I have no idea why she left. I was working so hard at the plant. I was putting in a lot of overtime. I was working 60 and 70 hours a week. We were saving for a down payment for a house. And when I asked her why she was leaving, she said it was because she never saw me anymore. But I was killing myself so that we could build a life together.

Jennifer: I am so sorry John…. How much money did you save?

In the above example the character went off and started telling a story. When you use a monologue like this it adds weight to the situation. Matt Donnelly, Improviser from P.I.T., says a great way to monologue is to just start talking about a subject with respect to a personal history or a personal philosophy or a metaphor. These types of monologues can infuse scenes with details, energy and stakes, which can propel a scene forward.

Who should I engage in a Monologue?

This depends on what type of monologue you are doing.

Why should I do a Monologue?

Monologues can infuse a scene with stakes and make the seemingly trivial into something with weight, thereby heightening a scene. They can also be an “explore”, a way for us to get more information into the scene and the lives of these characters we are playing. Monologues can help us figure out the relationship and or true feelings about the other characters on stage or give us a history. Monologues can also be used to address the audience directly, putting them on the inside of the joke or adding a personal narrative to a scene.

Monologues can also help the player and the audience relate to a character. For example, if you are playing a bigoted character, coming out a doing a player monologue about how this was just like how you as a player remember a family member being at a party, can infuse a reality into the scene that makes it more funny than just “bigots are stupid”.

There are so many reasons to do monologues, but if you do an aside or a soliloquy you run the risk of “claiming” the scene. Saying to the audience on a subconscious level, this scene is “about” my character or from the perspective of my character. Most audiences and improvisers won’t mind this. However, if you do there is a simple fix, the other people in the scene just need to do asides or a soliloquies too.

Happy Improv!

Please remember, if you are adding a comment to our site please include the word “improv” in your comment. I use this as a filter for the thousands of spam comments we get.Thanks!