Monologue History: What Is A Monologue?

What is a monologue?  This question often gets asked and I would like to share my thoughts on the definition.

For me, a monologue is a moment, a human moment, expressed and captured in time.  It is a piece of humanity that reveals a truth about who we are as people that can make us feel, think, react, engage and imagine.

Some of the most poignant moments in theatre and cinema history come from monologues.  When you look upon the work of a writer such as William Shakespeare and you read any of Hamlet’s monologues, they are truly profound and resonate just as honestly as they did when they were first written.  Going further back you can say the same about plays from Euripides or Sophocles.  Monologues throughout film history have always played their part.

Have a look at even more movie monologues.

There are many forms of monologue that have become their own terminology such as speeches, spoken word, flash fiction and free verse. Even lyrics from songs tell stories with a monologue sensibility. Wikipedia does a good job providing information on the different distinctions of monologue.  Another example would be a monodrama, such a Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape.

One man/woman shows have been created by many talented artists over time such as Lily Tomlin, Andy Kaufman, Lord Buckley, Eric Bogosian, Whoopi Goldberg, Jade Esteban Estrada, Eddie Izzard, John Leguizamo, Anna Deavere Smith, Bill Hicks and Lenny Bruce.

Monologues make us feel united, make us feel less alone, make us aware of things we may not have ever noticed before and make us feel empowered.  They have the ability to reach deep within one’s heart and soul and shake it up to release enough meaning for us to digest into our beings.

One also has to consider the power of monologues when you think of radio and the likes of someone such as Joe Frank who experimented with live freeform radio and monologues and also took his work to the stage.

Have a look at Joe Frank reading ‘Just An Ordinary Man‘.

A monologue is a story that can enrich our lives and bring us closer to one another as well as to ourselves.  They express our innermost fears and touch upon our secrets.  They are mysterious snapshots of life that are memorable, fantastic, pleasing, funny, horrific, entertaining, daring, heartfelt and meaningful.

There are wonderful outlets that exist where people can share their stories through live community such as The Moth.  The largest solo festival in the world that is dedicated to one-person shows and gives you an outlet to perform your own work is United Solo.  Also have a look at Humans of New York which is a touching project by Brandon Stanton.

There have been great works in literature that exercise the interior monologue and stream of consciousness narrative mode that are compelling. A James Joyce work such as ‘Ulysses’ or Virginia Woolf’s novel ‘The Waves’ are good examples of this kind of novel.

Monologues, for me, have the ability to impact all of us for the common good because through them, we see eachother in eachother and can begin to see that we really are all one race called HUMAN.

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Joseph Arnone

Joseph Arnone is the founding editor-in-chief of Monologue Blogger. In addition to running MB, Joseph is a filmmaker/producer who has had his films premiere at Festival de Cannes - Court Metrage and Tribeca Cinema's Big Apple Film Festival.