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CYMBELINE by William Shakespeare
IMOGEN is the daughter of CYMBELINE, King of Britain. She has secretly married POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and as a result he has been banished. POSTHUMUS is so certain of IMOGEN's love that he enters into a wager with IACHIMO - if IACHIMO can win IMOGEN's favour he shall have a diamond ring that IMOGEN gave POSTHUMUS. IACHIMO is repulsed by IMOGEN but manages to gain admission to her bedchamber at night, where he obtains evidence that convinces POSTHUMUS of her infidelity. IMOGEN knows nothing of this. POSTHUMUS writes two letters, one to IMOGEN asking her to meet him at Milford Haven; the other to PISANIO, his friend, ordering him to kill IMOGEN on the way. IMOGEN has just read her letter and, tremendously excited, is speaking to PISANIO.
O for a horse with wings! Hear'st thou, Pisanio?
He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me
How far 'tis thither. If one of mean affairs
May plod it in a week, why may not I
Glide thither in a day? Then, true Pisanio -
Who long'st, like me, to see thy lord; who long'st -
O, let me bate - but not like me - yet long'st,
But in a fainter kind: - O, not like me!
For mine's beyond beyond: say, and speak thick: -
Love's counsellor should fill the pores of hearing,
To the smothering of the sense - how far it is
To this same blessed Milford: and by the way
Tell me how Wales was made so happy as
To inherit such a haven: but, first of all,
How may we steal from hence: and for the gap
That we shall make in time, from our hence-going
And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence.
Why should excuse be born or ere begot?
We'll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,
How many score of miles may we well ride
'Twixt hour and hour?
Why, one that rode to's execution, man,
Could never go so slow: I have heard of riding wagers,
Where horses have been nimbler than the sands
That run i' the clock's behalf. But this is foolery:
Go bid my woman feign a sickness, say
She'll home to her father: and provide me presently
A riding-suit, no costlier than would fit
A franklin's housewife. Away I prithee;
Do as I bid thee: there's no more to say.
None is accessible but Milford way.
THE WILD DUCK by Henrik Ibsen
HEDWIG is a young teenager. Her father has just discovered that HEDWIG is not, in fact, his daughter. His love for HEDWIG and the wild duck that they nurture immediately turns to hate.
Daddy! Daddy! Don't go away from me. He'll never come back to us again. I think I'm going to die of all this. What have I done to him? Mother, why doesn't Daddy want to see me any more? I think I know what it is. Perhaps I'm not Daddy's real child. And now perhaps he has found it out. I've read about that sort of thing. But I think he might be just as fond of me for all that. Almost more. The wild duck was sent us as a present too, and I'm tremendously fond of that, just the same. The poor wild duck! He can't bear to look at that any more, either. Just think he wanted to wring its neck. I say a prayer for the wild duck every night and ask that it shall be protected from death and everything bad. I taught myself to say my prayers because there was a time when Daddy was ill and had leeches on his neck and said he was lying at death's door. So I said a prayer for him when I'd gone to bed. And I've gone on with it ever since. I thought I'd better put in the wild duck too, because she was so delicate at first. And now you say I should sacrifice the wild duck to prove my love for Daddy. I will try it. I will ask Grandfather to shoot the wild duck for me.
KING JOHN by William Shakespeare
The wicked King has imprisoned his young nephew, ARTHUR, Duke of Bretagne, and has sent orders to his keeper, HUBERT, that the boy's eyes are to be put out. Here, ARTHUR pleads with HUBERT.
Must you with hot irons burn out both mine eyes?
And will you?
Have you the heart? When your head did but ache
I knit my handkercher about your brows,
The best I had, a princess wrought it me,
And I did never ask it you again;
And with my hand at midnight held your head,
And like the watchful minutes to the hour,
Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy time,
Saying 'What lack you?' and 'Where lies your grief?'
Or 'What good love may I perform for you?'
Many a poor man's son would have lain still
And ne'er have spoke a loving word to you;
But you, at your sick service, had a prince.
Nay, you may think my love was crafty love
And call it cunning: do, an if you will,
If heaven be pleas'd that you must use me ill,
Why then you must. Will you put out mine eyes?
These eyes that never did nor never shall
So much as frown on you?
THE SEAGULL by Anton Chekhov, translated by Veronica George
KONSTANTIN ARKADIN is an intense and angry young man, the son of a successful actress. He despises her 'bourgeois' and complacent success, and holds the wealthy and successful people she gathers around her in contempt. He wants to write great plays which will revolutionise the theatre and has been working on an avant-garde play with NINA, a young girl from across the lake who is in love with him. However, NINA is falling under the spell of a successful writer, TRIGORIN, who is visiting the Arkadins. Seeing this, KONSTANTIN grows increasingly upset. Here, by the lake, KONSTANTIN enters with a gun and carrying a seagull he has killed, which he lays at NINA's feet.
I had the dishonour to kill this seagull today. I'm laying it at your feet. One day soon I shall shoot myself the way I shot the seagull.
No, I'm not the person you used to know. That's because you've changed - you're not the girl I used to know, either. You look at me coldly, as if I'm an embarrassment. It all began that evening when my play failed so miserably. I should have known, of course. Women can't tolerate failure. Well, I burned that play, I tore up every page of it and then I burned it. Oh God, I'm so miserable. It terrifies me, the way you - YOU! - have grown so cold towards me - it's unbelievable - it's as if I woke up one morning and found that this lake had dried up, or soaked away. You can say that you're too simple to understand me but that's nonsense. What is there to understand? Nobody liked my play. As a result, you think I'm an idiot, that the play wasn't any good to start with. You think I'm ordinary - an untalented nobody - someone who's just like everyone else. Oh, I know what you think, what you mean when you look at me like that. I feel as though you've driven a nail into my brain, damn you - and damn me, too, damn my pride, damn it, it's sucking all my life…
Sees TRIGORIN walking with a book.
(Sneeringly.) Here comes the man with the real talent, of course. He thinks he's Hamlet - look, he's walking along reading a book, just like Hamlet. (mimicking him.) 'Words, words, words.' As if he's the sun, the centre of the universe… Look at you, Nina! The sun hasn't even reached you and already you're smiling. You looked on me coldly but he only has to appear and you melt. Well, if that's what you want… I won't stand in your way.
KES by Barry Hines
Written in 1968 and set in Barnsley, Yorkshire, this is the story of 14-year-old Billy Casper, and his kestrel hawk. The character of ANDERSON, another 14-year-old schoolboy, is a minor one; he appears during a scene in Billy's school when the teacher asks the boys to describe some 'real happening' in their lives. 'Anything at all, Anderson… Everybody remembers something about when they were little. It doesn't have to be fantastic, just something that you've remembered…'
Well it was once when I was a kid. I was at Junior School, I think, or somewhere like that, and went down to Fowlers Pond, me and this other kid. Reggie Clay they called him, he didn't come to this school; he flitted and went away somewhere. Anyway it was Spring, tadpole time, and it's swarming with tadpoles down there in Spring. Edges of t'pond are all black with 'em, and me and this other kid started to catch 'em. It was easy, all you did, you just put your hands together and scooped a handful of water up and you'd got a handful of tadpoles. Anyway we were mucking about with 'em, picking 'em up and chucking 'em back and things, and we were on about taking some home, but we'd no jam jars. So this kid, Reggie says, 'Take thi Wellingtons off and put some in here, they'll be all right 'til tha gets home.' So I took 'em off and we put some water in 'em and then we started to put taddies in 'em. We kept ladling 'em in and I says to this kid, 'Let's have a competition, thee have one welli' and I'll have t'other, and we'll see who can get most in!' So he started to fill one welli' and I started to fill t'other. We must have been at it hours, and they got thicker and thicker until at t'end there was no water left in 'em, they were just jam packed wi'taddies.
You ought to have seen 'em, all black and shiny, right up to t'top. When we'd finished we kept dipping us fingers into 'em and whipping 'em up at each other, all shouting and excited like. Then this kid says to me, 'I bet tha daren't put one on.' And I says, 'I bet tha daren't.' So we said we'd put one on each. We wouldn't though, we kept reckoning to, then running away, so we tossed up and him who lost had to do it first. And I lost, oh, and you'd to take your socks off an' all. So I took my socks off, and I kept looking at this welli' full of taddies, and this kid kept saying, 'Go on then, that frightened, that frightened.' I was an' all. Anyway I shut my eyes and started to put my foot in. Oooo. It was just like putting your foot into live jelly. They were frozen. And when my foot went down, they all came over t'top of my Wellington, and when I got my foot to t'bottom, I could feel 'em all squashing about between my toes.
Anyway, I'd done it, and I says to this kid, 'Thee put thine on now.' But he wouldn't, he was dead scared, so I put it on instead. I'd got used to it then, it was all right after a bit; it sent your legs all excited and tingling like. When I'd got 'em both on I started to walk up to this kid, waving my arms and making spook noises; and as I walked they all came squelching over t'tops again and ran down t'sides. This kid looked frightened to death, he kept looking down at my wellies so I tried to run at him and they all spurted up my legs. You ought to have seen him. He just screamed out and ran home roaring. It was a funny feeling though when he'd gone; all quiet, with nobody there, and up to t'knees in tadpoles.
P'TANG YANG KIPPERBANG by Jack Rosenthal
ALAN DUCKWORTH is 14 and a pupil at a co-educational school. He has all the usual adolescent worries about growing-up, and at present his life is a mixture of cricket and appearing in the school play, opposite the girl he loves, the unattainable and lovely Ann. In this scene, which takes place outside Ann's house, she has been friendlier than before, and this gives ALAN courage.
Time: The late 1940s, after the Second World War.
(looking at ANN. He speaks quietly, solemnly, completely unselfconsciously, and very, very simply). You're beautiful, Ann. Sometimes I look at you and you're so beautiful I want to cry. And sometimes you look so beautiful I want to laugh and jump up and down, and run through the streets with no clothes on shouting 'P'tang, yang, kipperbang' in people's letterboxes. (Pause.) But mostly you're so beautiful - even if it doesn't make ME cry it makes my chest cry. Your lips are the most beautiful. Second is your nape… (After she queries this word.) The back of your neck. It's termed the nape… And your skin. When I walk past your desk, I breathe in on purpose to smell your skin. It's the most beautiful smell there is… It makes me feel dizzy. Giddy. You smell brand-new. You look brand-new. All of you. The little soft hairs on your arms… But mostly it's your lips. I love your lips. That's why I've ALWAYS wanted to kiss you. Ever since 3B. Just kiss. Not the other things. I don't want to do the other things to you. (Pause.) Well. I DO. ALL the other things. Sometimes I want to do them so much I feel I'm - do you have violin lessons?… (ANN is rather thrown by this.)… On the violin. (She doesn't.) Well, on a violin there's the E string. That's the highest pitched and it's strung very tight and taut, and makes a kind of high, sweet scream. Well, sometimes I want you so much, that's what I'm like… (A pause. ANN thanks him for this remark.)… I always wanted to tell you you were lovely. Personally, I always think it's dead weedy when Victor Mature - or whatsisname - Stewart Grainger - or someone says a girl's lovely. But you are. (Pause.) And I know girls think it's weedy when boys call them sweet. But you are. (Pause.) I don't suppose I'll ever kiss you now in my whole life. Or take you to the pictures. Or marry you and do the OTHER things to you. But I'll never forget you. And how you made me feel. Even when I'm 51 or something.
NATIONAL VELVET by Enid Bagnold
Against all odds 14-year-old VELVET BROWN has won the Grand National, disguised as a jockey. Now, after the initial excitement, a film company want her to appear in a film with her prize-winning horse, the Piebald. VELVET is an inspired lover of horses. She is described as 'delicate and spiny… feather-weight… with short pale hair, large protruding teeth, a sweet and a mouth full of metal'. Her trainer, Mi, when looking closely to decide if she could pass as a boy, declared her chest to be 'flat as a pancake'.
Setting: The Brown family's cottage living room.
Time: The Thirties.
Wants the horse? Can't have the horse. (Firmly.) Piebald on the films! He seems to forget! (Proudly.) That THAT'S the horse that won the National… I'll go. It won't be half as bad for us all to go and see me doing things on the curtain an' the band playing an' us sitting looking. But the Piebald! He doesn't know, he wouldn't know. He's out there in that field, steady and safe. He believes in me. I wouldn't let him in for a thing he couldn't understand. He's not like a human. He doesn't know how to be funny… (Tears coming now.)… and he SHAN'T LEARN!… (Still sobbing.) I've read about horses… horses that has won… an' they write about them nobly as though they were statues… Now how can you write about a horse nobly if it goes on the films?… I don't mean in the papers… not in the papers… (Gulping, pulling herself together.) Mother lights the fire with those! In books! Big books! Roll-of-Honour Books where they put down the winners and call them the Immortal Manifesto… Now, how can they call him the Immortal Piebald if he goes on the films?! (Hysterical.) ME! That's nothing! I'm nothing! If you could see what he did for me!… an' when I asked him again he doubled it! He tried near to death, he did… I'd sooner have that horse happy than… than go to heaven!
ALTERNATIVES TO EXPLORE AND CONSIDER
The role of JULIET in Romeo and Juliet
The role of ROMEO in Romeo and Juliet
The role of MERCUTIO in Romeo and Juliet
The role of LADY ANNE in Richard III
The role of HENRY in Henry V
The role of FENTON in The Merry Wives of Windsor
F.GOODRICH & A.HACKETT:
The role of ANNE FRANK in The Diary of Anne Frank
BARRY HINES & ALLAN STRONACH:
The role of BILLY CASPER in Kes
The role of ABIGAIL WILLIAMS in The Crucible
The role of ALAN STRANG in Equus
The role of YOUNG MARTIN in The Royal Hunt of the Sun
The role of PAMELA HARRINGTON in Five Finger Exercise
SOURCES FOR MONOLOGUES:
Solo Speeches For Under 12s
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-013-X
Scenes For Teenagers
Edited and adapted by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-031-8
Actresses' Audition Speeches for All Ages and Accents
By Jean Marlow
Published by A & C Black - London ISBN: 0-7136-4051-0
Classics For Teenagers
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-023-7
One On One - The Best Women's Monologues for the Nineties
Edited by Jack Temchin
Published by Applause Theatre Books ISBN: 1-55783-152-1
Solo Speeches For Men (1800 - 1914)
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-046-6
The Methuen Audition Book For Young Actors
Preface by Jane Lapotaire. Edited by Anne Harvey
Published by Methuen Drama ISBN: 0-413-66630-1
Solo Speeches For Women (1800 - 1914)
Edited by Shaun McKenna
Published by Oberon Books Ltd/LAMDA ISBN: 1-84002-003-2