"I'll have a grrrl-cheese sandwich."
February 27, 2007 9:46 AM   Subscribe

What are some great female monologues?
posted by Mach3avelli to Society & Culture (29 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There are some good ones here.
posted by cerebus19 at 9:58 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

And here.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2007

Blanche's spotlight monologue from Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire knocks me out, no matter how many times I read it.

He was a boy, just a boy, when I was a very young girl. When I was sixteen, I made the discovery -- love. All at once and much, much too completely. It was like you suddenly turned a blinding light on something that had always been half in shadow, that's how it struck the world for me. But I was unlucky. Deluded. There was something different about the boy, a nervousness, a softness and tenderness which wasn't like a man's, although he wasn't the least bit effeminate looking -- still -- that thing was there ...

He came to me for help. I didn't know that. I didn't find out anything till after our marriage when we'd run away and come back and all I knew was I'd failed him in some mysterious way and wasn't able to give the help he needed but couldn't speak of! He was in the quicksands and clutching at me -- but I wasn't holding him out, I was slipping in with him! I didn't know that. I didn't know anything except I loved him unendurably but without being able to help him or help myself. Then I found out. In the worst of all possible ways. By coming suddenly into a room that I thought was empty -- which wasn't empty, but had two people in it ... the boy I had married and an older man who had been his friend for years ...

[A locomotive is heard approaching outside. She claps her hands to her ears and crouches over. The headlight of the locomotive glares into the room as it thunders past. As the noise recedes she straightens slowly and continues speaking.]

Afterward we pretended that nothing had been discovered. Yes, the three of us drove out to Moon Lake Casino, very drunk and laughing all the way.

[Polka music sounds, in a minor key faint with distance]

We danced the Varsouviana! Suddenly, in the middle of the dance the boy I had married broke away from me and ran out of the casino. A few moments later -- a shot!

[The polka stops abruptly. Blanche rises stiffly. Then, the polka resumes in a major key]

I ran out -- all did! -- all ran and gathered about the terrible thing at the edge of the lake! I couldn't get near for the crowding. Then somebody caught my arm. "Don't go any closer! Come back! You don't want to see!" See? See what! Then I heard voices say -- Allan! Allan! The Grey boy! He'd stuck the revolver into his mouth, and fired -- so that the back of his head had been -- blown away!

[She sways and covers her face]

It was because -- on the dance floor -- unable to stop myself -- I'd suddenly said -- "I saw! I know! You disgust me ..." And then the searchlight which had been turned on the world was turned off again and never for one moment since has there been any light that's stronger than this -- kitchen -- candle ...
posted by headspace at 10:03 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Laughing Wild" by Christopher Durang (not the entire play, but much of it).
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2007

Have you checked out Nikki Giovanni? She is more in the realm of poetry, but her work is fantastic.
posted by parmanparman at 10:11 AM on February 27, 2007

"Runaways" by Elizabeth Swados has a number of monologues for younger women, both comedic and dramatic.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 10:18 AM on February 27, 2007

Talking With by Jane Martin is a terrific play that is all female monologues.
posted by JanetLand at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2007

Our drama classes seem to get a lot of use out of The Actor's Book of Monologues for Women.
posted by Lynsey at 10:27 AM on February 27, 2007

The raven himself is hoarse
That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan
Under my battlements. Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry 'Hold, hold!'

-Lady Macbeth
posted by four panels at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2007

You beasts! But I'm not beaten yet. You've won the battle, but I'm about to win the wardrobe. My spotty puppy coat is in plain sight and leaving tracks. In a moment I'll have what I came for, while all of you will end up as sausage meat, alone on some sad, plastic plate. Dead and medium red. No friends, no family, no pulse. Just slapped between two buns, smothered in onions, with fries on the side. Cruella De Vil has the last laugh!

-Cruella de Vil
posted by four panels at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2007

Alan Bennet's "Talking Heads" had some gems, Maggie Smith doing a particularly good "Bed Among the Lentils"
posted by Abiezer at 10:44 AM on February 27, 2007

four panels, that may be the greatest monologue ever.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2007

There ought to be a ton of anthologies of classic and contemporary monologues for women in the theatre sections of most bookstores. These anthologies generally contain quite popular monologues, but then they are usually popular because they're very good.

Medea has some good monologues.
posted by stray at 10:56 AM on February 27, 2007

Antigone also.
posted by stray at 10:57 AM on February 27, 2007

Emotional Recall by John Pielmeier from the play "Impassioned Embraces" is awesome. Poignant, funny and kickass all at once.
posted by sneakin at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2007

Oh, I see, you want classic ones? In that case, the "I'll never eat a root again" scene from Gone With the Wind.
posted by sneakin at 11:05 AM on February 27, 2007

Need some clarification and context:
for an acting class?
classical or contemp?
grad school?
Most monologue books contain popular, older pieces that are waaaay over-exposed-- you might do better to find a good drama bookstore in person or online and buy up 10 or so of this year's best published plays and sift through 'em that way.
(E-mail me if you'd like-- I'd be glad to help and could dig through my files...)
posted by Dizzy at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2007

"When I came out into society I was fifteen. I already knew that the role I was condemned to;
namely, to keep quiet and do what I was told; gave me the perfect opportunity to listen and observe...
Not to what people told me, which naturally was of no interest but to whatever it was they were trying to hide.
I practised detachment. I learned how to look cheerful while under the table I stuck a fork into the back of my hand.
I became... a virtuoso of deceit.
It wasn't pleasure I was after, it was knowledge. I consulted the strictest moralists to learn how to appear,
philosophers to find out what to think, and novelists, to see what I could get away with.
And in the end I distilled everything to one wonderfully simple principle: win or die."
~Dangerous Liaisons as written by Christopher Hampton

Full scene on youtube. (SFW, 4mins)
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:32 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

"I am the Earth Mother, and you're all flops." - Martha from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf".

Also anything from Eleanor in the "Lion in Winter". Like this:

"Of course he has a knife. He always has a knife. We all have knives. It's 1183 and we're barbarians. How clear we make it. Oh, my piglets, we're the origins of war. Not history's forces nor the times nor justice nor the lack of it nor causes nor religions nor ideas nor kinds of government nor any other thing! We are the killers; we breed war. We carry it, lke syphilis, inside. Dead bodies rot in field and stream because the living ones are rotten. For the love of God, can't we love each other just a little? That's how peace begins. We have so much to love each other for. We have such possibilities, my children; we could change the world."

I can't find the "I'd hang you from the nipples" part online, but I think I remember it being monologue-ish.

Judi Dench's opening monologue in "Notes on a Scandal" seemed pretty good too.
posted by ontic at 11:34 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Laughing Wild" by Christopher Durang (not the entire play, but much of it).
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:05 PM EST on February 27

This was my very first thought too. Seconded!
posted by theantikitty at 11:42 AM on February 27, 2007

Seconding Alan Bennett and adding Willy Russell's Shirley Valentine and Educating Rita.
posted by ceri richard at 12:29 PM on February 27, 2007

Joan Cusack at the end of Addams Family Values.

"All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie in her pretty pink tutu. My birthday, I was 10 and do you know what they got me? MALIBU Barbie. That's not what I wanted! That's not who I was! I was a ballerina. GRACEFUL. DELICATE. They had to go."

And so forth.
posted by hermitosis at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2007

"What do you think? I know you're not always perfect. I know you have tons of problems, defects, imperfections... but who doesn't? It's just that I prefer your problems. I'm in love with your imperfections. Your imperfections are just great! I mean, you can't imagine, before I had to deal with Ed and compared to him, you're a day at the beach! I know most girls they go weak at the knees for what's beautiful, you know, that's all they see, that's all they want. But I'm not like that. I don't just see what's beautiful. I fall for the other stuff. I love what's not perfect. It's just how I am."

Wendy in The Russian dolls
posted by rom1 at 12:47 PM on February 27, 2007

I remember thinking the lines given the title character in Evelyn Strange (by Stewart Lemoine) were wonderful. It's a mystery set in the '50s and Evelyn Strange is an amnesiac.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:23 PM on February 27, 2007

Faye Dunaway's pieces from "Network." Written by Paddy Chayefsky, and some of the most manic and beautiful stuff you'll ever hear.

"I don't want to play butch boss with you people, but when I took over this department, it had the worst programming record in television history. This network hasn't one show in the top twenty. This network is an industry joke, and we'd better start putting together one winner for next September. I want a show developed based on the activities of a terrorist group, 'Joseph Stalin and His Merry Band of Bolsheviks,' I want ideas from you people. This is what you're paid for. And by the way, the next time I send an audience research report around, you'd all better read it, or I'll sack the fucking lot of you. Is that clear?"

More at IMDB's Memorable Quotes from "Network."
posted by CMichaelCook at 3:13 PM on February 27, 2007 [2 favorites]

I happen to like "Fear of Dating" from A Girl's Guide to Chaos, by Cynthia Heimel.
posted by SisterHavana at 3:20 PM on February 27, 2007

Neil Simon is the go-to guy for modern monologues. I always got lulz with this one from The Star-Spangled Girl.
posted by booksandlibretti at 3:28 PM on February 27, 2007

If you'd consider a musical example, how about the Letter Aria from Tchaikovsky's version of "Eugene Onegin"? In the aria (really an entire scene), the young Tatiana — in a lengthy spasm of unrequited love — pours out her heart to the title character. As a bonus, the libretto retains much of Pushkin's original Russian. (YouTube has a titled concert version with Renée Fleming, singing the role this week at the Met. Part I Part II)
posted by rob511 at 4:54 PM on February 27, 2007

God Said "Ha!" by Julia Sweeney (yes, the "It's Pat!" Julia Sweeney, but don't let that dissuade you), is fantastically moving, tragic, funny, insightful, honest, funny, entertaining, and funny. It's an 85 minute one-woman-show about moving into her new bachelorette pad, with dreams of hosting wonderful soirees with beautiful intellectual people. But then...

Some highlights: Cutting loose by buying the Pope's book; "Ohhhh!!!! Smoking!!!!!!!!"; Dad's infatuation with Cokie Roberts; "Give them a shunt! They need something to love!" and her last pathetic public appearance as "Pat."

I watch this several times every year, and never tire of it.
posted by The Deej at 5:19 PM on February 27, 2007

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