Monologue Must Share: Calvin Candie, Django Unchained

I’ve got the 52 Plays in 52 Weeks Challenge but I’ve also had a little challenge going for a long while now that I haven’t talked about.

I’ve made myself a long list of films to get through in search of good monologues that students could adapt and perform for their Individual Performance in the HSC.

This one, that I just had to share, is from the film Django Unchained. Now it is rated MA15+. It is violent. There is bad language. This YouTube clip is in serious breach of copyright.

In saying that however, I just had to share this moment from the film. How Leonardo Dicaprio has not won an Oscar I still do not understand.

I was completely glued to him during this scene. I can’t really describe it. You just have to watch it. Whilst watching it however,  I did wonder, could it be performed on stage? I don’t see why it couldn’t. With a few little tweaks (namely the knife cutting the skull as blades are not permitted in performances) it could be a really good piece for a strong male actor and I always seem to find it hard to find good male pieces. Or maybe I’m just completely mental for thinking this could work as a piece of performance.

What do you think?

You can find other monologue suggestions at the top of the page under the Suggestions for Monologues section.

Fantastic Find: monologuedb.com

I’m in the process of preparing my Year 9 students for an upcoming performance. It is a selection of “monologue moments.” I wanted to use it as an opportunity to direct my first piece that had something more of a refined directorial vision than the mish mash pieces I’ve put together in the past.

The theme for the concert is “colour.” I wanted my directorial concept to explore movies that had colours in the title and the characters and moments within them. I initially began searching for movies with colours in the title to see if I could find short monologues from them. Things like The Colour Purple, Pretty in Pink and The Thin Red Line. It was harder than I thought to find pieces online until I stumbled on this website monologuedb.com

It has a great selection of very short, monologues, no more than 3 minutes or so. In the end I decided to go with “movie moments” as my theme rather than “colour” because it really was proving harder than I thought. The kids have responded really well to the monologues I chose for them because a) they suit their personality (and for a first monologue I do think that’s important in order to encourage a sense of success) and b) they know the movies that they are from which means they know how they are supposed to sound and at this stage you want them to be emulating tone and facial expression to get them comfortable with working with scripts and standing up on stage alone.

Definitely worth checking out.

Terminus – A Review

The theatre is filled with a white haze. The stage is framed by what looks a broken mirror, some of the shards still attached. The house lights dim. There is a building of sound that becomes a roar, the lights on the stage flash quickly and brightly, catching you by surprise after being immensed in the darkness. After the shock of the bright lights, three actors appear, each standing on their own podium, dressed in the everday, lit only faintly by white light crossing horizontally across their faces. The lights fade on “B” and “C” and “A” begins to speak…

And so begins the STC’s Touring Production from The Abbey Theatre in Ireland, Terminus. It is an intense 1 hour and 45 minutes. No interval, no movement of any kind, no interaction between the three actors, just three monologues that eventually intertwine.

At first, the story is engaging as the writing skill of O’Rowe reveals itself with his clever manipulation of the monologue form into that of verse. I think to myself, “this writing is modern day Shakespeare”. The rhythm and rhyme, ebb and flow of the dialogue suggests movement and supports that of the character’s stories.

Soon, listening to the character’s stories becomes a test of your skillful ability to imagine in your own head the events that the character recounts. Tune out (which I did a few times admittedly) and you miss a part of the story. All three stories and their respective characters, are bleak and not at all what you would expect.  Terminus means “the end or extremity of anything” and the stories are certainly that. The way they reveal themselves makes listening to them worthwhile. The revelation is simple and subtle and fits perfectly within the rhythm and length of the play. You are hanging on until the last minute.

The acting is incredibly skilled and strongly supports the uniquely written dialogue. Olwen Fouere as “A” is engaging with her clear and aptly intonated delivery. “B” played by Catherine Walker was incredibly intense which I suppose was complimentary to her character but I found it a little too so. However it worked well in showing a jarring contrast between Walker’s “B” and Declan Conlon’s portrayal of “C” who was softly spoken by comparison. I was straining to hear him at times. It was not at all how you would expect an essentially crazy mad man to sound. All three actors, standing alone speaking to the audience show the isolation they all feel even after their stories intertwine.

Whilst I can look at each of the elements of Terminus individually and appreciate and praise their merit, I didn’t overly enjoy this play. It really was exhausting listening and imagining the events in my head nor did I feel anything in particular as I was leaving the theatre. If I had to feel anything it was mainly exhaustion and a feeling of “oh isn’t the world bleak?” The lack of interaction disappointed me and the monologues were incredibly long and as such couldn’t maintain my attention.

A very well written work with highly skilled actors doing justice to the material but it didn’t quite reach the heights of my expectation.

Image Credits: Dublino, mariocutroneo, Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

10 Textbooks No Drama Teacher Should Be Without

I was having a moment the other day. One of those out of body experiences where you watch the chaos around you in the classroom and think to yourself, “How crazy is this?”, “Is this for real?” and “What the hell is little Johnny doing?”, “What the hell am I doing?” I have them occasionally and it just reminds me how incredible teachers are. We seem to battle on through amidst the seeming chaos.

I guess those experiences also remind me how far I’ve come in my five years of teaching. That ability to watch what is happening in front of me and laugh and know that it’s not the end of the world and if I had to tell new, beginning teacher’s what to expect and how to react, reacting the way I did the other day (watching everything happen in slow motion and as though it’s something out of a B Grade movie), is perfectly healthy and necessary at times.

I would also tell my beginning Drama teacher’s: don’t ever be stuck for resources. Utilise your school library and make sure it stocks not only the best plays and resource material for student’s but also resource material for yourself. Make friends with your librarian :)

Utilise every possible Professional Development day you can. Work towards some goals. Be realistic about those goals and know that it’s not possible to achieve everything you want to in your first year and that in every school you work at for your entire career the goals and expectations you have will be different because every school is different. Perhaps in your first year your goal will be about managing behaviour. The following year it might be how you teach a particular theatrical style or play. By having a goal to work towards it will make it easier to choose a course to take for Professional Development.

Over the years I have made sure my library is up to date with all the play scripts that are on the prescribed text list and added a few extra text books just for extra reference for myself and the student’s. I like walking into the library and going over to the theatre section a lot. It inspires me. I don’t even have to open any of the books. It just telepathically fills me with ideas. It’s funny like that.

Here are my ten text books that I cannot live without:

1. Acting in Person and In Style Australia by Carol Wimmer – I use this book a lot when I am teaching monologues, duologues, acting skills (voice workshops). It is also brilliant for teaching a range of performance styles.

2. Dramawise by Brad Haseman – The bible full of exercises for explicitly teaching the elements of drama. I highly recommend this book as a starting point for beginning teachers.

3. You’re On by Rob Galbraith – Another fantastic text with exercises to teach students about performance elements as well as the roles of people behind the scenes. 

4. Living Drama by Bruce Burton – This is actually part of a three part series (Making Drama and Creating Drama are his titles for lower secondary drama students) and is best used with senior students. It looks at aspects of drama in a slightly more sophisticated way which is applicable to senior students and their essays.

5. Navigating Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – A great text for students in Year 9-10 Drama. Some of the particularly helpful sections include the playbuiding chapter and the commedia dell arte chapter.

6. Navigating Senior Drama by Richard Baines and Mike O’Brien – I like this senior text because of its focus on the NSW Drama Syllabus. It has focus chapters on Australian Drama and Theatre which forms part of the theory component of the course as well as a section specifically devoted to some of the Studies in Drama and Theatre topics (Brecht, Greek Theatre and American Drama). It also has good chapters on the Group and Individual Performance units.

7. Centre Stage by Matthew Clausen -  Great teaching suggestions plus some really great templates for teaching the elements of production including costume design and lighting and sound plotting.

8. Lighting and Sound by Neil Fraser – everything you need to know about lighting and sound in a simple easy to understand way. Absolute gold.

9. Stage Design and Props by Michael Holt – As above. An absolute gem of a book if you want to learn about set design and making.

10. Costume and Make-Up by Michael Holt Ditto as above.

Oh, and if I haven’t mentioned it before Improvisation: A Guide by Lyn Pierse. Absolutely excellent for anything Theatre Sports or improvisation related. Oh, oh, oh and if you’re teaching Publicity and Program Design try Stage Management and Theatre Administration by Pauline Menear and Terry Hawkins.

Have you got a text book that you swear by? Share it with us in the comments.

Image Credits: T’aiuto io, tassomanAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)