speak no evil
September 30, 2006 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Can you think of a good monologue or short story that would translate well to being told/described using only body language, without words?

I'm auditioning for the part of a mute woman in a play--part of the audition requires a one to two minute long monologue without words. I'm prepared to create something on my own that displays a range of emotion, but if the hive mind has any ideas, I'd love to hear them (both for this audition and future use).
posted by stray to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Swimming to Cambodia comes to mind. But it may be too arch, for all the but the most committed mimes.
posted by paulsc at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2006

Maybe look at ASL performances? ASL is by no means a transparent language, but you could probably create something like what you're looking for using a sample video for ideas.

For starters, you could take a look at this emotional video and ASL Shakespeare.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:35 PM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

The Metamorphosis.

One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay on his armour-hard back and saw, as he lifted his head up a little, his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections. From this height the blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin in comparison to the rest of his circumference, flickered helplessly before his eyes.

"What's happened to me," he thought. It was no dream.

posted by BackwardsCity at 8:46 PM on September 30, 2006

Maybe a bit lame, but it will be clear what's happening and you'll get to run through a bunch of emotions:
Girl talks on phone, eagerly anticipates date, dresses for date in room, checks self out in mirror, will he like her?, brief reverie about how much he will like her, checks watch, uh oh he's late, maybe he's not coming after all....etc. (or, bypass the getting-stood-up, and just end the scene as she goes out the door ready to face him)

Or similar for job interview situation
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:23 PM on September 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

Check out Commedia dell'arte. Here are some links to get you started.

It's an ago old Italian mask drama where everything is about body language, as the masks prevent you from trying to express everything on your face (as many actors tend to do these days).

Can you do it in a mask? I cannot emphasis how much they change a performance, but you will be surprised. One of my fondest memory's from a young actors' course at NIDA was the Commedia dell'arte mask work we did, and how much emotion you felt being unable to express anything on your face.

While Commedia dell'arte is mostly about improvisation, there are some short plays that exist.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 11:24 PM on September 30, 2006

Do your own thing. Just an idea...create a silent flirtation with an imaginary someone across an imaginary room. First, you're kinda oblivious, at a party hanging with some friends, but not really paying attention to what they're rattling on about. You absentmindedly look up from your drink and spot him/her across the room; your interest is piqued. He/she is also not particularly into the scene. At that moment, he/she happens to look up and your eyes meet. A connection is made. At that point you start a conversation with your eyes and body language. Work it. Use your eyes and face to express interest, availability, negotiation, anticipation, and then, ultimately, rejection (maybe). I'm just throwing this out there as the broadest of outlines. Make of it what you will. It could play well, done right. For that matter, it's been done before. Then again it may not be what you have in mind at all, in which case please disregard.

Make it your own.
posted by wsg at 12:57 AM on October 1, 2006

Perhaps act out The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.
posted by bim at 1:40 AM on October 1, 2006

At the beginning of "Crimes of the Heart" is a fairly long scene where Lenny, the oldest sister, arrives home, into the kitchen, gets out a cookie and a small birthday candle, tries to put a candle on the cookie (it falls over twice), lights the candle, then uses molten wax to stick the candle to the cookie.

She then sings "Happy Birthday to Me", but you could probably safely leave that out (maybe add a little paper birthday hat to get the "birthday" theme across).

I actually played Lenny once; this was a challenging scene for me.
posted by amtho at 7:53 AM on October 1, 2006

The "Alas, poor Yorick. I knew him, Horatio" monologue from the scottish play may be a good contender. The initial bit with the skull outstretched would likely clue people in, and then expressing the rest through body language would let you shine.
posted by cCranium at 2:10 PM on October 1, 2006

Years ago I did a speech of Chief Joseph, using Indian sign language - I used a book from Dover publications for the signing part.

Also did Silent Sounds theater for the deaf. As opposed to most signed theater, the primary actors were the signers, and the actors shadowing were the voices. This seemed to work much better than the split focus of a to-the-side signer.
posted by dragonsi55 at 4:26 AM on October 2, 2006

In The Aristocrats there's a rendition of the joke done by a mime. Probably too off-color for almost all audiences, perhaps it will give you some inspiration.
posted by phearlez at 7:55 AM on October 2, 2006

Act Without Words.
posted by Skot at 9:59 AM on October 2, 2006

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