This page suggests some female monologues, listed alphabetically by book/film/play name. If you use a film’s monologue, check to see if it’s based on a play, book or actual real-life event. This will help you research it better and will also allow you access to more material for editing the dialogues appropriately.
Clicking on the name in the index will open a text window with details about the piece and the monologue. For your convenience, the monologues also follow beneath the index list.
Remember to always research your piece and read/watch the entire book, film, play to get a better understanding of the character and what and why she is saying what she is. Researching the play in its entirety, including the context of time period of the piece will help you understand the phycology of character and will explain certain decisioins they make in the world of the play. Also, remember to include details about the piece on your script – see ‘Breakfast in Tiffany’s’ as an example of an introduction. If you have edited the script, remember to state that it has been adapted, see ‘See No Evil: The Moors Murders’ as an example.
|Index: Monologues – Female|
|9 to 5||Boss/Employee Relationship.||Contemporary, Argumentative, Confrontational, Comedic.||Doralee to her office boss, Franklin, about his bragging about their having an affair.||Film, Musical.||1980|
|AA Monologue||Alcoholism.||Contemporary, Comedic.||Popular Internet Monologue.||The Internet.||ND|
|A Chorus Line||Theatre, Auditions, Beauty.||Contemporary, Poignant.||Val‘s speech during her audition.||Musical.||1975|
|Adam’s Rib||Legal, Crime.||Classical, Oratory, Legal Summation, Dramatic.||Amanda Bonner‘s Trial Summation.||Film.||1949|
|A Doll’s House||Relationship, Marital.||Classical, Dramatic, Confrontational.||Amanda to her husband.||Stage, Film.||1879|
|Agnes of God||Insanity, Religious.||Contemporary, Confessional, Lunacy.||Agnes to her psychiatrist.||Stage, Film.||1982|
|All About Eve||Relationship, Biographical.||Classical, Contemplative, Confessional.||Eve talking to her new theatre friends.||Novel, Film, Play. (musical adaption named Applause)||1950|
|A Loss of Roses||Relationship, Education.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Confessional.||Lila is on a porch watching a mother lead her son to school.||Stage, Film.||1959|
|American Graffiti||Relationship, Romantic.||Contemporary, Angry, Accusing.||Laurie to Steve about their relationship.||Film.||1973|
|A Streetcar Named Desire||Relationship, Death.||Classical, Narrative, Tragic.||Blanche remembering how her husband had committed suicide.||Stage, Film.||1947|
|A Streetcar Named Desire||Relationship, Death.||Classical, Confrontational, Self-justification.||Blanche justifying herself to her sister, Stella.||Stage, Film.||1947|
|A Streetcar Named Desire||Relationship, Analysis.||Classical, Accusing, Narrative, Contemplative.||Blanche to her brother-in-law about his friend Michael’s treatment of her.||Stage, Film.||1947|
|Atonement||Relationship.||Contemporary, Narrative, Self-analysis and reflection.||The older Briony looks back on her actions.||Film (UK).||2007|
|A Woman of No Importance
|Relationship.||Classical, Humorous, Conversational.||Based on Mrs Caroline and Mrs Allonby’s views on the ideal man.||Stage, Film (UK).||1893|
|A Woman of No Importance
|Relationship, Maternal.||Classical, Dramatic, Self-justification.||Mrs Arbuthnot to her son about his biological father.||Stage, Film (UK).||1893|
|Beautiful Girls||Relationship, Love.||Contemporary, Humorous, Oratory.||Gina talking to her two male friends about why they choose beautiful girls to go out with.||Film.||1996|
|Because I said so||Relationship, Maternal, Lovers.||Contemporary, Confrontational.||Millie to one of the guys she is involved in, talking about his scheming with her mother.||Film.||2007|
|Because of Beth||Relationship, Death, Maternal.||Contemporary, Dramatic, Pathos, Narrative, Complaining, Self-justification.||Penny at her mother’s (Beth) grave.||Stage.||2007|
|Relationship, Death, Supernatural.||Classical, Dramatic, Theatrical.||Madame Arcatti offers her help after the death of Mr Condomine’s second wife.||Stage, Film.||1941|
|Breakfast at Tiffany’s||Relationship, Drunkenness, Financial.||Contemporary, Drunk, Contemplative, Self-orientated, Conversational.||Holly Golightly, who is drunk, speaking to Paul.||Novella, Film, Musical.||1958|
|Bull Durham||Relationship, Sport.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Comedic.||Groupie, Annie, about her love of sex and baseball.||Film.||1988|
|Burlesque||Relationship, Dance, Theatre.||Contemporary, Theatrical.||Tess, the club owner, first talking to herself about burlesque and then addressing the audience.||Musical Film.||2010|
|Burlesque||Relationship, Dance, Theatre.||Contemporary, Dramatic.||Tess, the club owner, talking to Sean, the costumer.||Musical Film.||2010|
|Cat on a Hot Tin Roof||Relationship, Death, Marital.||Classic, Dramatic, Bitter.||Maggie, to her husband, Brick.||Stage, Film.||1950|
|Chicago||Relationship, Marital, Fame, Entertainment.||Classic, Confessional, Childish, Opportunistic.||Roxie, an inmate, speaking to the warden, Mama.||Novel, Stage, Musical, Film.||1973|
|Confusions||Relationship, Marital, Abuse.||Contemporary, Confessional, Dramatic.||Beryl talking about her abusive relationship.||Stage.||1974|
|Curl Up and Dye
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Work, Employer, Marital.||Contemporary, Annoyance, Stress.||Rolene (owner) speaking to herself and then on the phone.||Stage (SA).||1989|
|Curl Up and Dye
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Work, Employer, Staff, Violence, Drugs, Crime.||Contemporary, Judgemental, Gossipy.||Mrs Dubois (Client) to Rolene.||Stage (SA).||1989|
|Curl Up and Dye
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Marital, Abuse, Mother.||Contemporary, Confidential, Concerned.||Rolene speaking to Charmaine (friend).||Stage (SA).||1989|
|Curl Up and Dye
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Work, Employer, Staff, Race, Education.||Contemporary, Angry.||Miriam (employee) speaking to Rolene and Mrs Dubois.||Stage (SA).||1989|
|Dangerous Beauty||Relationship, Legal, Prostitution, Religious.||Classic, Confessional, Defiant.||Margaret on trial.||Book, Film, Musical.||1998|
|Dangerous Liaisons||Battle of the sexes, Sex, Society.||Classic, Arrogant.||Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil answering the Vicomte’s question as to how she manages to invent herself.||Book, Play, Film.||1988|
|Diary of a Mad Black Woman||Relationship, Marital, Divorce.||Contemporary, Hurt, Accusatory.||Helen to Charles, her ex-husband.||Film.||2005|
|Erin Brockovich||Environment, Corporate, Money, Fighting for Justice.||Contemporary, Accusatory, Confrontational, Aggressive.||Erin to the company representatives.||Film.||2000|
|Fanny’s First Play||Society, Legal, Youth.||Classical, Narrative, Confessional.||Margaret relating her recent escapade to her mother.||Stage (UK).||1911|
|Francis||Relationship, Parental, Mental Illness. Abuse.||Contemporary, Accusatory, Hurt.||Francis addressing her mother and father.||Film.||1982|
|Funny Girl||Fame, Entertainment, Beauty.||Contemporary, Pride, Determination, Comic.||Fanny Brice||Musical, Film.||1964|
|Girl Interrupted||Relationship, Incest, Parental, Mental Illness.||Contemporary, Aggressive, Vulgar.||Lisa, an inmate, to Daisy, another inmate.||Book, Film.||1999|
|Gray Matters||Relationship, Beauty.||Contemporary, Defiant, Comic.||Molly.||Film.||2006|
|Gremlins||Relationship, Parental, Christmas.||Contemporary, Tragic.||Kate Beringer tells her boyfriend, Billy, about how she found out that there was no Santa Claus.||Film.||1985|
|In & Out||Relationship, Marital, Homosexuality.||Contemporary, Dramatic, Comic.||Emily to her fiancé, Hubert, who has just told her that he is gay.||Film.||1997|
|Kramer vs Kramer||Relationship, Marital, Parental, Divorce, Legal.||Contemporary, Confessional, Sad.||Joanna on the witness stand.||Book, Film.||1979|
|Lady Windermere’s Fan
|Relationship, Adultery, Marital.||Classical, Dramatic, Fearful, Sad.||Lady Windermere.||Play, Film (UK).||1892|
|Lady Windermere’s Fan
|Relationship, Adultery, Marital.||Classical, Dramatic, Imploring, Sad.||Mrs Erlynne to Lady Windermere.||Play, Film (UK).||1892|
|Lady Windermere’s Fan
|Relationship, Adultery, Marital.||Classical, Arrogant, Malicious, Gossipy.||The Duches of Berwick to Lady Windermere.||Play, Film (UK).||1892|
|Magnolia||Relationship, Marital, Legal, Death, Sex.||Contemporary, Dramatic Hysteria.||Linda’s husband is dying and she is telling his lawyer that she wants the will changed.||Film.||1999|
|Mean Girls||Relationship, Juvenile, Homosexuality, Society.||Contemporary, Nasty, Spiteful, Gossipy.||Regina||Film.||2004|
|Mommie Dearest||Relationship, Parental, Abuse.||Contemporary, Abusive.||Joan to her daughter.||Film.||1981|
|Monster||Relationship, Homosexuality, Crime.||Contemporary, Dramatic, Menacing, Pleading.||Aileen to her girlfriend, Selby.||Film.||2003|
|My Fair Lady||Relationship, Society.||Classical, Comic.||Eliza Doolittle at the races.||Stage, Musical, Film.||1964|
|Nuts||Relationship, Parental, Crime, Legal.||Contemporary, Sad, Contemplative.||Claudia to the prosecuting attorney on whether or not she is nuts – he is asking her if she loves her mother.||Film.||1987|
|Network||Corporate, Money, Greed, Entertainment.||Contemporary, Aggressive, Motivational, Domineering.||Diana, who heads the network’s programming department, talking to her staff.||Film.||1976|
|People are living there
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Marital.||Contemporary, Insulting, Dominating.||Sissy (lodger) to Shorty (husband)||Stage (SA).||1968|
|People are living there
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Lovers.||Contemporary, Vengeful, Jealous, Angry.||Millie (landlady) to Mr Ahlers, her ex-lover (off-stage).||Stage (SA).||1968|
|People are living there
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Lovers, Age.||Contemporary, Sad, Contemplative, Angry.||Millie (landlady) to Don and Shorty (lodgers).||Stage (SA).||1968|
|Poltergeist||Relationship, Parental, Supernatural.||Contemporary, Explanatory, Haunting.||Clairvoyant Tangina speaks to the mother about her daughter’s relation to the unseen spirits that have pulled her into their sphere.||Film.||1982|
|Precious||Relationship, Parental, Abuse.||Contemporary, Dramatic, Confessional, Tragic.||Mary (Precious’ mother) talking to the social worker.||Book, Film||2009|
|Presumed Innocent||Relationship, Legal, Marital, Affairs, Death.||Contemporary, Dramatic, Confessional, Justification.||Barbara, the wife of Assistant DA Rusty Sabich confesses that she murdered Caroline because of her affair with him.||Book, Film.||1990|
|Primary Colors||Relationship, Marital, Affairs, Politics.||Contemporary, Angry, Threatening.||Libby Holden, Jack and Susan’s old friend, addressing them both.||Book, Film.||1998|
|Promedy||School, Society.||Contemporary, Motivational.||The normally bookish Beatrix Holiday, the 17-year old president of the student body, explains to her fellow student why Prom means so much to her.||The Internet.||2010|
|Rachel Getting Married||Addiction, Tragedy, Death, Religion.||Contemporary, Bitter, Angry, Guilt.||Kym at support group.||Film.||2008|
|Rebecca||Memories, Mystery.||Classic, Reflective, Haunting.||Mrs de Winter – the book opens with this monologue.||Book, Film.||1938|
|Requiem for a Dream||Relationships, Marital, Parental, Loneliness.||Contemporary, Sorrow, Pathos.||Sara to her son, Harry.||Film.||2000|
|Revolutionary Road||Relationships, Marital, Parental, Society.||Contemporary, Sad, Confrontational.||April Wheeler to her husband.||Book, Film.||2008|
|Secrets and Lies||Relationships, Family, Parental, Racial.||Contemporary, Conversational, Shocking, Comic, Sad.||Cynthia to the daughter she gave away for adoption.||Film (UK).||1996|
(South African Play)
|Relationships, Parental, Dysfunctionalism, Alcoholism.||Contemporary, Judgemental, Frustration.||Evie to her Pa on the smallholding.||Stage (SA).||1989|
|See No Evil: The Moors Murders||Crime, Legal, Murder, Religion.||Contemporary, Shocking, Guilt, Self-justification & Self-pity.||Myra to her sister Maureen visiting her in jail.||Film.||2006|
|Serendipity||Relationships, Memories.||Contemporary, Contemplative.||Sara (taken from two different scenes in the movie).||Film.||2001|
|Shirley Valentine||Relationships, Marital.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Comic.||Shirley (talking to the wall).||Stage, Film.||1989|
|Showboat||Relationships, Marital, Entertainment.||Classic, Confrontational, Sad.||Julie LeVerne addressing Ravenal (the gambler).||Book, Musical, Film.||1927|
|Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You||Religion, Homosexuality, Judgement.||Contemporary, Judgemental.||Sr Ignatius||Play, Film.||1979|
|Some Like It Hot||Relationships, Entertainment, Sex.||Classic, Contemplative, Sad and silly.||Sugar Kane talking to Josephine/Joe.||Film.||1959|
|Sophie’s Choice||Religion, War, Parental.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Tragic.||Sophie talking to Stingo (the writer)||Book, Film.||1982|
|Steel Magnolias||Parental, Death.||Contemporary, Tragic, Contemplative, Angry, Confrontational.||M’Lynn after the funeral of her daughter, to her friends.||Book, Film.||1989|
|The Accused||Legal, Crime, Rape.||Contemporary, Accusing, Factual, Dramatic.||Prosecuting Deputy D.A. Kathryn Murphy presenting a forceful court argument||Film.||1988|
|The Accused||Legal, Crime, Rape.||Contemporary, Confrontational, Angry, Dramatic.||Sarah to Kathryn.||Film.||1988|
|The Cherry Orchard||Relationships, Age, Financial.||Classic, Agitated, Sad, Self-pity.||Madame Ranevskaya to Peter, a young student.||Stage, Film.||1904|
|The Color Purple||Relationships, Race, Sex, Abuse.||Contemporary, Confrontational, Dramatic.||Sofia confronting Selie.||Book, Film, Musical.||1985|
|The Color Purple||Relationships, Race, Sex, Abuse.||Contemporary, Cajoling, Sexual.||Shug to Celie||Book, Film, Musical.||1985|
|The Curse of the Cat People||Supernatural.||Classic, Narrative, Scary.||Mrs Julia Farren (an aging reclusive actress) to Amy.||Film.||1944|
|The Glass Menagerie||Relationships, Memories.||Classic, Narrative, Dramatic, Nostalgic.||Amanda to her daughter, Laura||Stage, Film.||1944|
|The Glass Menagerie||Relationships, Insecurity.||Classic, Pathos, Pleading.||Laura pleading with her mother to be excused from dinner.||Stage, Film.||1944|
|The Glass Menagerie||Relationships, Insecurity.||Classic, Pathos.||Laura to visitor Jim.||Stage, Film.||1944|
|The Hungry Earth
(South African Play)
|Relationship, Apartheid, Race, Poverty, Death.||Contemporary, Despair.||A Woman in a compound.||Stage (SA).||1979|
|The Others||Supernatural, Maternal, Death.||Contemporary, Tragic, Loving.||Grace to her housekeeper and children.||Film.||2001|
|The Quiet||Relationships, Abuse, Sex, Parental.||Contemporary, Mocking, Self-pity, Angry, Scorn.||Nina to Dot.||Film.||2005|
|The Seagull||Relationships, Theatre.||Classic, Contemplative, Sad, Self-introspective, Self-absorbed.||Nina talking to her ex-boyfriend, Kostya.||Stage, Film.||1895|
|The Shining||Relationships, Abuse, Alcoholism.||Contemporary, Apologetic, Justifying, Self-deluding.||The wife, Wendy, talking to the doctor about Jack.||Book, Film.||1980|
|Up at the Villa||Relationships, Alcoholism, Gambling, Sex, Love.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Sad.||Mary Panton to Rowley Flint, her suitor.||Novella, Film.||2000|
|When a Man Loves a Woman||Relationships, Alcoholism, Abuse.||Contemporary, Contemplative, Sad, Self-analysing, Self-loathing.||Alice at an AA Meeting.||Film.||1994|
|White Oleander||Relationships, Foster Homes, Mother-Child.||Contemporary, Sad, Contemplative.||Astrid speaking at the start of the movie.||Film/ Book.||2002|
|White Oleander||Relationships, Foster Homes, Mother-Child.||Contemporary, Sad, Contemplative.||Astrid speaking at the end of the movie.||Film/ Book.||2002|
|Wit||Poetry, Life, Death.||Contemporary, Intellectual, Arrogant.||Professor E M Ashford to Vivienne during her college years.||Film/Play||1998|
|Wuthering Heights||Relationships, Love.||Classical, Passionate.||Catherine proclaims her feelings about Heathcliff and Edgar to Nelly, the maidservant.||Book/Numerous Film Adaptations/Musical||1847|
|Wuthering Heights||Relationships, Love.||Classical, Passionate.||Catherine (speaking to Isabella in front of Nelly).||Book/Numerous Film Adaptations/Musical||1847|
|Wuthering Heights||Relationships, Love.||Classical, Passionate.||Nelly Dean to Mr.Lockwood, the stranger who has come to stay at Wuthering Heights.||Book/Numerous Film Adaptations/Musical||1847|
9 to 5 is a 1980 film, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, about three female employees who find a way to turn the tables on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigoted boss.
Character: Doralee to her office boss, Franklin, about his bragging about their having an affair.
Type: Angry, comedic
Well, that explains it. That’s why these people treat me like some dime store floozy…They think I’m screwin’ the boss…And you just love it, don’t you? It gives you some sort of cheap thrill like knockin’ over pencils and pickin’ up papers…Get your scummy hands off of me. Look, I’ve been straight with you from the first day I got here. And I put up with all your pinchin’ and starin’ and chasin’ me around the desk ’cause I need this job, but this is the last straw…Look, I got a gun out there in my purse, and up until now, I’ve been forgivin’ and forgettin’ because of the way I was brought up. But I’ll tell you one thing: if you ever say another word about me or make another indecent proposal, I’m gonna get that gun of mine and I’m gonna change you from a rooster to a hen with one shot! Don’t think I can’t do it.
AA Monologue by Maddie Hicks. This is a famous monologue on the Internet, but I could find no further details about the author or when it was written. It’s about a woman’s tale of woe about what the lack of alcohol has done to her.
Character: Sarah Goodman
Hello, my name is Sarah Goodman and I am an alcoholic. I’ve been sober for . . . . an hour and a half; and it’s not going so well. In the hour and a half in which I was sober – not including the fifteen minutes I spent in here – my delicate yet mere existence was shattered into innumerable splinters of agony. My car, my one and only mode of transportation, was stolen; right in front of my apartment building. I was evicted from my apartment because I refused to date my landlord’s son. My boyfriend of six years dumped me . . . for my best friend. I was fired from the only job I’ve ever been able to keep. On my way to this meeting, I was talking to my mother on my cell phone; and because the reception is so bad and because my mother is so deaf, she mistakenly thought ‘I’m late’ was ‘I’m gay’. And now my traditional conservative Christian parents have disowned me. Oh, and my pet rat, Ralph, was eaten by a cobra that escaped from the zoo this morning. So, you say alcohol can’t solve your problems. Well it’s true it can’t find a cure for AIDS, or end world hunger, or date your landlord’s son . . . . but I think this is one of those cases where liquor really, really helps. So forget’em! Forget boyfriends and best friends. Forget bosses and landlords and parents! Forget ‘em all! All I need is alcohol! Because that’s the only thing that has always been there for me. And has always worked. No one can ever do what alcohol does for me. No one ever has, no one ever will, and no one ever can. And you know it. And boy do I know it. But you know what I don’t know, what is the point of this meeting? This whole association? Is it just another communist attempt at destroying the individual? T he American ideal? Trying to dilute the very things that make us unique. So we’re flawed; who isn’t? I’m proud of my ‘problems’. You know, I haven’t met one person who came to this program, ‘cured’ their alcoholism and then had a happy life afterwards. And isn’t that what life’s about? Finding what makes you happy? Well I think it is. In a single hour and a half of sobriety my life fell apart. So you know what? I am happiest when I am drunk! Well, that’s all I wanted to say. I’m not listening to anymore of your tripe and I’m through with this whole idea. That’s it. I’m done, I’m gone, and I’m not coming back. I guarantee, you will not see me sober again. Oh, and for the rest of you – my comrades – I leave you with this image: Hello, my name is Sarah Goodman and I am proud that I am an alcoholic!!
A Chorus Line is a 1975 musical about Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line. The book was authored by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante, lyrics were written by Edward Kleban, and music was composed by Marvin Hamlisch.
Character: Val‘s speech during her audition which leads into her song Dance:10 Looks:3.
So, the day after I turned 18, I kissed the folks goodbye, got on a Trailways bus – and headed for the big bad apple. Cause I wanted to be a Rockette. Oh, yeah, let’s get one thing straight. See, I never heard about the Red Shoes, I never saw the Red Shoes, I didnt give a fuck about the Red Shoes. I decided to be a Rockette because this girl in my home town – Louella Heiner – had actually gotten out and made it New York. And she was a Rockette. We’ll, she came home one Christmas to visit, and they gave her a parade. A goddamn parade! I twirled a friggin’ baton for 2 hours in the rain. Unfortunately though, she got knocked up over Christmas. Merry Christmas – and never made it back to Radio City. That was my plan. New York, New York. Except I had one minor problem. See, I was ugly as sin. I was ugly, skinny, homely, unattractive and flat as a pancake. Get the picture? Anyway, I got off this bus in my little white shoes, my little white tights, little white dress, my little ugly face, and my long blonde hair – which was natural then. I looked like a fucking nurse! I had 87 dollars in my pocket and seven years of tap and acrobatics. I could do a hundred and eighty degree split and come up tapping the Morse Code. Well, with that kind of talent I figured the Mayor would be waiting for me at Port Authority. Wrong! I had to wait 6 months for an audition. Well, finally the big day came. I showed up at the Music Hall with my red patent leather tap shoes. And I did my little tap routine. And this man said to me: Can you do fankicks? – Well, sure I could do terrific fankicks. But they werent good enough. Of course, what he was trying to tell me was…it was the way I looked, not the fankicks. So I said: Fuck you, Radio City and the Rockettes! I’m gonna make on Broadway! Well, Broadway, same story. Every audition. I mean I’d dance rings around the other girls and find myself in the alley with the other rejects. But after a while I caught on. I mean I had eyes. I saw what they were hiring. I also swiped my dance card once after an audition. And on a scale of 10….they gave me for dance 10. For looks: 3. Well…
Adam’s Rib is a 1949 film starring Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, about how domestic and professional tensions mount when a husband and wife work as opposing lawyers in a case involving a woman who shot her husband.
Character: Amanda Bonner‘s Trial Summation
And so the question here is equality before the law, regardless of religion, colour, wealth, or, as in this instance, sex. Law, like man, is composed of two parts. Just as man is body and soul, so is the law, letter and spirit. The law says, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ yet men have killed, and proved a reason, and been set free. Self-defence, defence of others, of wife, of children, and home. If a thief breaks into your house, and you shoot him, the law will not deal harshly with you, nor indeed should it. So here, you are asked to judge not whether or not these acts were committed, but to what extent they were justified. Now, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I request that you join me in a revealing experiment. I ask you all to direct your attention to the defendant, Mrs. Attinger. Now keep looking at her, keep watching. Listen carefully and look at her. Look at her hard. Now imagine her a man. Go on now, use your imaginations. Think of her as a man sitting there accused of a like crime; a husband, who is only trying to protect his home. Now hold it. Hold that impression and look at Beryl Caighn. Look at her. Look at her hard, a man, a slick home wrecker, a third party, a wolf! You know the type. Alright, hold that impression and look at Mr. Attinger, and suppose him a woman. Try, try hard. Ah, yes, there she is. The guilty wife! Look at her! Does she arouse your sympathy?! Alright! Now you have it! Judge it so! An unwritten law stands back of a man who fights to defend his home. Apply this same law to this maltreated wife, and neglected woman. We ask you no more: equality. Deep in the heart of South America, there thrives today a civilization far older than ours: a people known as the Loquiňanos, descended from the Amazons. In this vast tribe, members of the female sex rule and govern, and systematically deny equal rights to the men, made weak and puny by years of subservience, too weak to revolt. And yet, how long have we lived in the shadow of a like injustice? Consider this unfortunate woman’s act as though you yourselves had each committed it. Every living being is capable of attack, if sufficiently provoked. Assault lies dormant within us all. It requires only circumstance to set it in violent motion. I ask you for a verdict of not guilty. There was no murder attempt here, only a pathetic attempt to save a home.
A Doll’s House is the world’s most performed play written by Henrik Ibsen which premiered in 1879. A 1973 film, starring Anthony Hopkins, was adapted from it. It’s about a wealthy woman’s attempts to help her financially troubled husband which go unrewarded.
Character: Nora to her husband.
Sit down, Torvald; you and I have much to say to each other. No, that is just it. You don’t understand me; and I have never understood you – till to-night. No, don’t interrupt. Only listen to what I say – we must come to a final settlement, Torvald. Does not one thing strike you as we sit here? We have been married eight years. Does it not strike you that this is the first time we two, you and I, man and wife, have talked together seriously? During eight whole years, and more – ever since the day we first met – we have never exchanged one serious word about serious things. I am not talking of cares. I say that we have never yet set ourselves seriously to get to the bottom of anything. There we have it! You have never understood me – I have had great injustice done me, Torvald; first by father, and then by you. You have never loved me. You only thought it amusing to be in love with me. Yes, it is so, Torvald. While I was at home with father, he used to tell me all his opinions, and I held the same opinions. If I had others I said nothing about them, because he wouldn’t have liked it. He used to call me his doll-child, and played with me as I played with my dolls. Then I came to live in your house – I mean I passed from father’s hands into yours. You arranged everything according to your taste; and I got the same tastes as you; or I pretended to – I don’t know which – both ways, perhaps; sometimes one and sometimes the other. When I look back on it now, I seem to have been living here like a beggar, from hand to mouth. I lived by performing tricks for you, Torvald. But you would have it so. You and father have done me a great wrong. It is your fault that my life has come to nothing. No, I was never happy. I thought I was; but I never was. No; only merry. And you have always been so kind to me. But our house has been nothing but a play-room. Here I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I used to be papa’s doll-child. And the children, in their turn, have been my dolls. I thought it fun when you played with me, just as the children did when I played with them. That has been our marriage, Torvald. Education, you say. Whose? Mine or the children’s? Oh, Torvald, you are not the man to teach me to be a fit wife for you. And I – how have I prepared myself to educate the children? Did you not say yourself, a few minutes ago, you dared not trust them to me? No – you were perfectly right. That problem is beyond me. There is another to be solved first – I must try to educate myself. You are not the man to help me in that. I must set about it alone. And that is why I am leaving you. I must stand quite alone if I am ever to know myself and my surroundings; so I cannot stay with you. It is of no use your forbidding me anything now. I shall take with me what belongs to me. From you I will accept nothing, either now or afterwards. I believe that before being a wife and a mother, before all else I am, I am a human being, just as much as you are – or at least that I should try to become one. I have other duties equally sacred. My duties towards myself. I know that most people agree with you, Torvald, and that they say so in books. But henceforth I can’t be satisfied with what most people say, and what is in books. I must think things out for myself, and try to get clear about them. I must make up my mind which is right – society or I.
Agnes of God is a 1982 Broadway play by John Pielmeier which tells the story of a novice nun who gives birth and insists that the dead child was the result of a virgin conception. It was adapted into a 1985 American film starring Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft and Meg Tilly.
Character: Agnes speaking to Martha, the psychiatrist.
Type: Dramatic Pathos
Where do you think babies come from? Well I think they come from… angel lights on their mother’s chest and whispers into her ear. That makes good babies start to grow. And bad babies come from when a fallen angel squeezes in down there, and they start to grow, grow, till they come out down there. I don’t know where good babies come out. And you can’t tell the difference… except bad babies cry a lot… and they make their fathers go away… and their mothers get very ill… die sometimes. Mummy wasn’t very happy when she died … and, I think she went to hell because every time I see her she looks like she just stepped out of a hot shower, and I… I’m never sure if it’s her, or the Lady who tells me things! They fight over me all the time. The Lady… I saw when I was ten. I was lying on the grass, looking at the sun, and the sun became a cloud, and the cloud became, a Lady. And she told me she would talk to me. And then… her feet began to bleed and I saw there… there were holes in her hands and in her side. And I tried to catch the blood as it fell from the sky, but I couldn’t see any more because my eyes hurt because there were big black spots in front of them. And she tells me things like, like… right now she’s crying Marie! Marie! … but I don’t know what that means … and… she uses me to sing, it’s as if she’s throwing a big hook through the air and it catches me under my ribs and tries to pull me up, and I… I can’t move because Mommy’s holding my feet and all I can do is sing in her voice… it’s the Lady’s voice, God loves you! And her cry echoes all around and the doves fly out of the bell tower. God loves you.
All About Eve is a 1950 American drama film written based on the 1946 short story “The Wisdom of Eve”, by Mary Orr. It starred Bette Davis, Margo Channing, Marilyn Monroe, Anne Baxter, Celeste Holm and George Sanders and is about an ingénue who insinuates herself into the company of an established but aging stage actress and her circle of theatre friends.
Character: Eve talking to her new theatre friends.
I guess it started back home. Wisconsin, that is. There was just mum, and dad – and me. I was the only child, and I made believe a lot when I was a kid – I acted out all sorts of things… what they were isn’t important. But somehow acting and make-believe began to fill up my life more and more, it got so that I couldn’t tell the real from the unreal except that the unreal seemed more real to me… I’m talking a lot of gibberish, aren’t I? Farmers were poor in those days – that’s what dad was – a farmer. I had to help out. So I quit school and I went to Milwaukee. I became a secretary. In a brewery. (she smiles) When you’re a secretary in a brewery – it’s pretty hard to make believe you’re anything else. Everything is beer. It wasn’t much fun, but it helped at home – and there was a Little Theatre Group… like a drop of rain in the desert. That’s where I met Eddie. He was a radio technician. We played ‘Liliom’ for three performances, I was awful – then the war came, and we got married. Eddie was in the air force – and they sent him to the South Pacific. You were with the O.W.I., weren’t you Mr. Richards? (Lloyd nods) That’s what ‘Who’s Who’ says… well, with Eddie gone, my life went back to beer. Except for a letter a week. One week Eddie wrote he had a leave coming up. I’d saved my money and vacation time. I went to San Francisco to meet him. (a slight pause) Eddie wasn’t there. They forwarded the telegram from Milwaukee – the one that came from Washington to say that Eddie wasn’t coming at all. That Eddie was dead…… so I figured I’d stay in San Francisco. I was alone, but I couldn’t go back without Eddie. I found a job. And his insurance helped… and there were theatres in San Francisco. And one night Margo Channing came to play in ‘Remembrance’… and I went to see it. And – well – here I am…
A Loss of Roses is a 1959 play by WIlliam Inge about a struggling aging actress turned stripper which was made into a 1963 film called The Stripper starring Joanne Woodward.
Character: Lila is on a porch watching a mother lead her son to school.
I remember my first day at school… Mother took me by the hand and I carried the bouquet of roses, too. Mama had let me pick the loveliest roses I could find in the garden, and the teacher thanked me for them. Then Mama left me and I felt kinda scared, ’cause I’d never been any place before without her, but she told me Teacher would be mama to me at school, and would treat me as nice as she did. So I took my seat with all the other kids, their faces so strange and new to me. And I started talking to a little boy across the aisle. I didn’t know it was against the rules. But the teacher came back and slapped me, so hard that I cried. I ran to the door ’cause I wanted to run home to mama quick as I could. But the teacher grabbed me by the hand and pulled me back to my seat. And said I was too big a girl to be running home to mama. And I had to learn to take my punishment when I broke the rules. But I still cried, I told the teacher I wanted back my roses, but she wouldn’t give them to me. She shook her finger and said, when I gave away lovely presents, I couldn’t expect to get the back… I guess I never learned that lesson very well, there’s so many things I still want back.
American Graffiti is a 1973 film co-written/directed by George Lucas starring Richard Dreyfuss, about some high school graduates who spend a night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college.
Character: Laurie to Steve
I don’t care if you leave this second. (Laurie squints into the spotlight and realizes everybody’s watching them.) Oh God, come on. (She pulls him toward the dance-floor) Oh, Steven–please, everybody’s watching. Smile or something. You think I care if you go off. You think I’m going to crack up or something. Are you conceited! What do you mean – started taking me out? When we first met you didn’t have enough sense to take the garbage out… I asked you out, remember? Backwards Day–remember? If I had waited for you to ask me–even after that you didn’t call me for two weeks. You weren’t busy, you were scared. Dave Oboler told me. Then when you did ask me out you didn’t kiss me for three dates. You were scared – Jim Kaylor told me. I even asked my father why you hadn’t kissed me. He said he thought you were bright and you’d probably think of kissing me after a while. You didn’t, of course. I had to. Remember that picnic? No, not out at the canyon? Oh boy! You can’t remember anything – the first one, up at the lake. That was the first time you kissed me – I practically had to throw myself at you. (She starts to cry.) Oh, go to hell!
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 award-winning play by Tennessee Williams about a vulnerable woman, Blanche DuBois, who moves in with her sister and is troubled by her brother-in-law. A film adaptation was made in 1951 starring Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh.
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 … 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. 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! 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! 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…
I took the blows on my face and my body! All those deaths! The long parade to the graveyard. Father, Mother, Margaret that dreadful way. So big with it, she couldn’t be put in a coffin, but had to be burned like rubbish! You came just in time for funerals Stella. And funerals are pretty compared to death. Funerals are quiet, but deaths not always. Sometimes their breathing is hoarse, sometimes it rattles, sometimes they cry out to you, “Don’t let me go!” Even the old sometimes say it – “Don’t let me go”. As if you could stop them! Funerals are quiet, with pretty flowers. And oh, what lovely boxes they pack you away in! Unless you were there at the bed when they cried out “Hold me” you’d never suspect there was struggle for breath and bleeding. You didn’t dream, but I saw! Saw! And now you sit there telling me with your eyes that I let the place go. How in hell do you think all that sickness and dying was paid for? Death is expensive Miss Stella! And old Cousin Jessie, right after Margaret’s, hers! The Grim Reaper put his tent up on our doorstep! Stella, Belle Reve was his headquarters. Honey, that’s how it slipped through my fingers. Which of them left us a fortune? Which of them left us a cent of insurance even? Only poor Jessie- one hundred to pay for her coffin. That was it Stella! And I with my pitiful salary at the school! Yes, accuse me! Sit there and stare at me, thinking I let the place go. I let the place go! Where were you Stella? In bed with your Polack!
Character: Blanche to Stanley
It won’t be the sort of thing you have in mind. This man is a gentleman – he respects me. What he wants is my companionship. Having great wealth sometimes makes people lonely. A cultivated woman – a woman of breeding and intelligence – can enrich a man’s life immeasurably. I have those things to offer, and time doesn’t take them away. Physical beauty is passing – a transitory possession. But beauty of the mind, richness of the spirit, tenderness of the heart – I have all those things – aren’t taken away but grow! Increase with the years! Oh! Strange that I should be called a destitute woman when I have all these treasures locked in my heart. I think of myself as a very, very rich woman. But I have been foolish – casting my pearls before….swine. Yes, swine! And I’m thinking not only of you, but of your friend Mr. Mitchell. He came here tonight, he did, coming in his work clothes, to repeat slander, vicious stories he’d gotten from you. I gave him his walking papers. But then he returned, he returned with a box of roses to beg my forgiveness. He implored my forgiveness. Some things are not forgivable. Deliberate cruelty is not forgivable. It is the one unforgivable thing, in my opinion, and the one thing of which I have never, never been guilty. So I said to him, ‘Thank you,’ but it was foolish to think that we could ever adapt ourselves to each other. Our ways of life are too different. Our backgrounds are incompatible. So farewell, my friend and let there be no hard feelings.
Atonement is a 2007 British film about a young aspiring writer of 13 years, Briony Tallis, who irrevocably changes the course of several lives when she accuses her older sister’s lover of raping her cousin, a crime he did not commit. The story is based on the 2001 novel by Ian McEwan.
Character: Briony Tallis (an older Briony – this part was played by Vanessa Redgrave)
Type: Confessional / Sad
I’m dying. My doctor tells me I have something called vascular dementia, which is essentially a series of tiny strokes. Your brain closes down, gradually. You lose words, you lose your memory, which for a writer is pretty much the point. So that’s why I could finally write the book, I think. I had to. And why of course it is my last novel. Strangely enough, it would be just as accurate to call it my first novel. I wrote several drafts as far back as my time at St. Thomas’ hospital during the war. Just couldn’t ever find the way to do it…Yes, entirely, I haven’t changed any names, including my own…No. I had for a very long time decided to tell the absolute truth. No rhymes, no embellishments. And I think you’ve read the book, you’ll understand why. I got firsthand accounts of all the events I didn’t personally witness: the conditions in prison, the evacuation to Dunkirk, everything. But the effect of all this honesty was rather pitiless, you see. I couldn’t any longer imagine what purpose would be served by it… By honesty or reality. Because, in fact, I was too much of a coward to go and see my sister in June, 1940. I never made that journey to Balham. So the scene in which I confess to them is imagined…invented. Any of that could never have happened, because Robbie Turner died of septicaemia at Bray Dunes on June 1st 1940, the last day of the evacuation and I was never able to put things right with my sister, Cecilia, because she was killed on the 15th of October, 1940, by the bomb that destroyed the gas and water mains of Balham tube station. So, my sister and Robbie were never able to have the time together they both so longed for and deserved. And which ever since, I’ve always felt I prevented. But, what sense of hope or satisfaction could a reader derive from an ending like that? So in the book I wanted to give Robbie and Cecilia what they lost out on in life. I’d like to think this isn’t weakness or evasion. But a final act of kindness I gave them: their happiness.
A Woman of No Importance is a play by Irish playwright Oscar Wilde about a woman’s past coming back to haunt her. The play premièred in 1893 at London’s Haymarket Theatre and a film adaptation was made in 1921 and a new one is set for release in 2013.
Character: A monologue based on the conversation between Mrs Caroline and Mrs Allonby among others.
The Ideal Man! Oh, the Ideal Man should talk to us as if we were goddesses, and treat us as if we were children. He should refuse all our serious requests, and gratify every one of our whims. He should encourage us to have caprices, and forbid us to have missions. He should always say much more than he means, and always mean much more than he says. He should never run down other pretty women. That would show he had no taste, or make one suspect that he had too much. No; he should be nice about them all, but say that somehow they don’t attract him. If we ask him a question about anything, he should give us an answer all about ourselves. He should invariably praise us for whatever qualities he knows we haven’t got. But he should be pitiless, quite pitiless, in reproaching us for the virtues that we have never dreamed of possessing. He should never believe that we know the use of useful things. That would be unforgiveable. But he should shower on us everything we don’t want. As far as I can see, he is to do nothing but pay bills and compliments. He should persistently compromise us in public, and treat us with absolute respect when we are alone. And yet he should be always ready to have a perfectly terrible scene, whenever we want one, and to become miserable, absolutely miserable, at a moment’s notice, and to overwhelm us with just reproaches in less than twenty minutes, and to be positively violent at the end of half an hour, and to leave us forever at a quarter to eight, when we have to go and dress for dinner. And when, after that, one has seen him for really the last time, and he has refused to take back the little things he has given one, and promised never to communicate with one again, or to write one any foolish letters, he should be perfectly broken-hearted, and telegraph to one all day long, and send one little notes every half-hour by a private hansom, and dine quite alone at the club, so that everyone should know how unhappy he was. And after a whole dreadful week, during which one has gone about everywhere with one’s husband, just to show how absolutely lonely one was, he may be given a third last parting, in the evening, and then, if his conduct has been quite irreproachable, and one has behaved really badly to him, he should be allowed to admit that he has been entirely in the wrong, and when he has admitted that, it becomes a woman’s duty to forgive, and one can do it all over again from the beginning, with variations.
Character: Mrs Arbuthnot
I will never stand before God’s altar and ask God’s blessing on so hideous a mockery as a marriage between me and George Harford. I will not say the words the Church bids us to say. I will not say them. How could I swear to love the man I loathe, to honour him who wrought you dishonour, to obey him who, in his mastery, made me to sin? No; marriage is a sacrament for those who love each other. It is not for such as him, or such as me. Gerald, to save you from the world’s sneers and taunts I have lied to the world. For twenty years I have lied to the world. I could not tell the truth. No, Gerald, no ceremony, Church-hallowed or State-made, shall ever bind me to George Harford. Men don’t understand what mothers are. I am no different from other women except in the wrong done me and the wrong I did, and my very heavy punishments and great disgrace. And yet, to bear you I had to look on death. To nurture you I had to wrestle with it. Death fought with me for you. All women have to fight with death to keep their children. Death, being childless, wants our children from us. Gerald, when you were naked I clothed you, when you were hungry I gave you food. Night and day all that long winter I tended you. No office is too mean, no care too lowly for the thing we women love–and oh! how I loved you! And you needed love, for you were weakly, and only love could have kept you alive. Only love can keep anyone alive. And boys are careless often, and without thinking give pain, and we always fancy that when they come to man’s estate and know us better they will repay us. But it is not so. The world draws them from our side, and they make friends with whom they are happier than they are with us, and have amusements from which we are barred, and interests that are not ours; and they are unjust to us often, for when they find life bitter they blame us for it, and when they find it sweet we do not taste its sweetness with them. . . . You made many friends and went into their houses and were glad with them, and I, knowing my secret, did not dare to follow, but stayed at home and closed the door, shut out the sun and sat in darkness. My past was ever with me. And you thought I didn’t care for the pleasant things of life. I tell you I longed for them, but did not dare to touch them, feeling I had no right. You thought I was happier working amongst the poor. That was my mission, you imagined. It was not, but where else was I to go? The sick do not ask if the hand that smoothes their pillow is pure, nor the dying care if the lips that touch their brow have known the kiss of sin. It was you I thought of all the time; I gave to them the love you did not need; lavished on them a love that was not theirs. And you thought I spent too much of my time in going to Church, and in Church duties. But where else could I turn? God’s house is the only house where sinners are made welcome, and you were always in my heart, Gerald, too much in my heart. For though day after day, at morn or evensong, I have knelt in God’s house, I never repented of my sin. How could I repent of my sin when you, my love, were its fruit? Even now that you are bitter to me I cannot repent. I do not. You are more to me than innocence. I would rather be your mother, oh! much rather than have been always pure. .Oh, don’t you see? don’t you understand! It is my dishonour that has made you so dear to me. It is my disgrace that has bound you so closely to me. It is the price I paid for you–the price of soul and body–that makes me love you as I do. Oh, don’t ask me to do this horrible thing. Child of my shame, be still!
Beautiful Girls is a 1996 American film directed by Ted Demme written by Scott Rosenberg. It’s about a piano player who returns home to his friends and their own problems with life and love.
Character: Gina talking to her two male friends.
I’m speaking to you both, okay, you’re fucking insane. You wanna know what your problem is? MTV, Playboys, and Madison fucking Avenue. Yeah. Let me explain something to you okay? Girls with big tits have big asses, girls with little tits have little asses. That’s the way it goes. God doesn’t fuck around, he’s a fair guy. He gave the fatties big, beautiful tits, and the skinnies little, tiny niddlers. It’s not my rule. If you don’t like it, call Him. Hey Mitch. Thank you. (Picks up a magazine.) Oh guys, look what we have here. Look at this, your favourite. Oh, you like that? Yeah, that’s nice, right? Well, it doesn’t exist, okay? Look at the hair. The hair is long, it’s flowing, it’s like a river. Well, it’s a fucking weave, okay? And the tits. Please, I could hang my overcoat on them. Tits, by design, were intended to be suckled by babies. Yes, they’re purely functional. These are silicone city. And look, my favourite, the shaved pubis. Pubic hair being so unruly and all. Very keen. This is a mockery, this is a sham, this is bullshit. Implants, collagen, plastics, capped teeth, the fat sucked out, the hair extended, the nose fixed, the bush, these are not real women, alright? They’re beauty freaks. And they make all us normal women with our wrinkles, our puckered boobs, hi Bob, our cellulite, seem somehow inadequate. Well, I don’t buy it, alright? What you fuckin mooks, you think is that there’s a chance in hell that you’ll end up with one of these women you don’t give us real women anything approaching a commitment. It’s pathetic. I don’t know what you think you’re going to do. You’re going to end up 80 years old, drooling in some nursing home, and then you’ll decide that it’s time to settle down, get married, have kids? What are you going to do find a cheerleader? Charge it, Mitch. Oh, eat me. Look at Paul, with his models on the wall, his dog named Elle Macpherson. He’s insane! He’s obsessed. You’re all obsessed. If you had an ounce of self-esteem, of self-worth, of self-confidence, you would realize that as trite as it may sound: beauty is truly skin deep. And you know what? If you ever did hook one of those girls, I guarantee you’d be sick of her. Get over yourself. … No matter how perfect the nipple, how supple the thigh, unless there’s some other shit going on in the relationship besides physical, it’s gonna get old, okay? And you guys, as a gender, have got to get a grip, otherwise the future of the human race is in jeopardy.
Because I said so is a 2007 movie about a dominating mother and her relationship with her daughters.
Character: Millie to Jason (one of the guys with whom she is involved).
Oh my God, oh my God. You and my mom have been totally scheming and now I know why she pushed me on you because she was voting for you. She found you on the Internet. The truth – where’s the truth? You’ve been living a lie and I’ve been lying to you, Jason, by dating someone else. How does that not change everything? (pause) How could you know something like that? How could you know that you know you had me the day you met me? (pause) Really? Because I laughed like a hyena? (pause) I’ll tell you one thing though. You did not have me the moment you met me because I wasn’t even sure I liked the fact that your staff talked about you behind your back at the dessert table and excuse me but truth be told, I didn’t like anything you ordered for me on our first date except the calamari and okay fine it was nice to not have to think for a change, but who wants someone who doesn’t think. Look, sometimes you laugh when I cry and say “Huh” when I make perfect sense. And never ever in my life have I burnt a chocolate soufflé until now and that in itself – Oh my God – should have told me that I don’t feel like myself when I’m around you. And I would have figured that out a long time ago if it wasn’t for my mother. Because who wants someone who laughs like a hyena in a polka-dot dress that my mother made me buy. (pause) Why don’t you take her out?
Because of Beth by Elana Gartner is a 2007 play produced by Small Pond Entertainment at the Workshop Theatre NY. It’s about Beth’s feuding daughters and estranged ex-husband who mourn her death in their own ways.
Character: Penny at her mother’s grave.
Well, Mom, it looks like we have a few things to talk about! I don’t know how things are in that nice coffin of yours, but out here, they kind of suck a lot! How could you give Cara custody of me? Don’t you think you could have talked to me about it? I mean, it’s about me, don’t you think you could have asked what I wanted? All anyone ever says is that I have to be older. Well, when do I get old enough for you to discuss these kinds of things with me? Is there some age limit like drinking and voting? Suddenly you can talk to me about what would happen to me if you died? I am always the last one to know about what happens to me! It’s not fair! You make decisions! Cara makes decisions! Stanley makes decisions! And Stanley wants custody! Yeah, he wants custody! He’s not my father. He just wants custody because I’m your daughter. (pause) You told me that you would always be there. You’re not. Where are you now? Oh, and just so you know, no matter how many people tell me, I’m not going to believe that mumbo jumbo crap about you being with me all the time. It’s not the same. Who am I going to talk to about Peter? You were the only one who knew about him. God, I’m never going to go out with Peter because I have to move to Arlington! You are wrecking my life! Cara fights with Stanley all the time. Stanley’s so out of it he can barely make it through the day. He didn’t wake Cara up to go to your funeral because he knew Dad was going to be there. Oh, and keeping a few secrets about him, huh? (takes out something from her bag) You’re really lucky that Cara didn’t find this when we were going through the boxes. (she opens a T-shirt that says “Proud dad of a George Mason grad”) So what the hell is this? I know this wasn’t for Stanley. Cara would have flipped out if you ever called Stanley her dad. So I’m thinking this was supposed to be for DAD. What the hell were you thinking, Mom? (she crumples it back up and shoves it in her bag) What’s up with you lying about how you met Stanley? You and Dad and Stanley being friends in college? You know, we used to tell each other everything, Mom! Everything! Or at least I told you everything. All of my friends thought you were so cool because they could come and talk to you when they couldn’t talk to their own moms! And you know what’s so stupid? They still think that! Georgia calls me, crying and shit because you’re gone and I’m finding out all this stuff about who you really were! You were my mom! When Dad left, it was you and me and Cara! And then when Cara left, it was just you and me! It was always us. Even when Stanley moved in. You weren’t supposed to keep secrets from me! You were still supposed to be my mom! Because of you, I spent my whole life thinking Dad was this awful person. Well, I met him, Mom! And you know what? He’s not an awful person; he’s just hard to get to know. I hate Cara! She sent him away! She doesn’t understand that I never knew him. I never got the chance to make my own decision about whether or not to hate him. I had to get that decision from you and her, too. I’m tired of this. You were supposed to be different. But you were like every other mom who makes choices for their kids. You told me that you weren’t like that but you were. And I never realized how much until you died. (long pause) I came here to tell you that I’m leaving. I don’t care what you said about my custody and I don’t care if you left me stuff. I’m going to Chicago or somewhere else where nobody can find me. I’m going to be a musician. I’m going to start making my own decisions. (glares at the grave for a long time. Starts to tear up and angrily brushes it away. Stomps away defiantly to her bike.)
Blithe Spirit is a 1945 British film directed by David Lean with the screenplay by Lean, based on producer Noël Coward’s 1941 play. It’s about a writer who, for research purposes, invites a medium to hold a séance in his home. Unknown to them all, she has summoned the spirit of Charles’ first wife, Elvira.
Character : Madame Arcati to Charles after the death of his second wife.
I hope you will not consider this an intrusion, Mr Condomine. I had to come. I felt a tremendous urge – like a rushing wind, and so I hopped on my bike and here I am. I reproach myself bitterly, you know. I allowed myself to get into a huff the other day with your late wife. I rode all the way home in the grip of temper, Mr Condomine – I have regretted it ever since. (Holds up her hand.) Please let me go on. Mine is the shame, mine is the blame – I shall never forgive myself. Had I not been so impetuous – had I listened to the cool voice of reason – much might have been averted. I threw up the sponge instead of throwing down the gauntlet. It is gall and wormwood to me – I could have least concentrated – made an effort. I have been thinking very carefully, I have also been reading up a good deal during the last few dreadful days. Is there any difference in the texture of your first wife since the accident? No? Well, that washes that out. You see, in the nineteenth century, there was a pretty widespread belief that a ghost who participated in the death of a human being, disintegrated automatically. Oh yes, Mr Condomine, I know Elvira caused your second wife’s death. It came to me in a blinding flash last night. I had just finished my Ovaltine and turned the light out when I suddenly started up in bed with a loud cry – “Great Scott” I said – “I’ve got it” – after that I began to put two and two together. At three in the morning I went to work on my crystal for a little, but it wasn’t very satisfactory – cloudy, you know – (pause) – but there is something to be done! (Produces a piece of paper out of her bag.) I have found a formula. I copied it out of Edmondson’s Witchcraft and its Byways. Pluck up your heart, Mr Condomine, all is not lost! The formula will get rid of her without hurting her feelings in the least. It requires nothing more than complete concentration from you and a minor trance from me. (Sniffing) Very interesting – I smell ectoplasm strongly. Is she here now? This is wonderful – I can sense the vibrations – this is magnificent. If only that Mr Emsworth of the Psychical Research Society could see this – he’d have a fit, he would really! Now I can’t guarantee anything – I’ll do my best, but it may not work. Now then – sit down, please, Mr Condomine, rest your hands on the table. I shall have to go into a slight trance. Hold on to yourself – concentrate. (Sings in a sing-song voice) Ghostly spectre – ghoul or fiend, Never more be thou convened. Shepherd’s Wort and Holy Rite Banish thee into the night. (She pulls up the chair and sits opposite Charles) Is there anyone there – Daphne – can you help us? Mrs Condomine wants to return. (Table starts to shake.) Hold tight, Mr Condomine – it’s trying to break away – Oh -oh – oh! (She falls off chair and she’s still wailing until she suddenly sits up.) What happened? I know something happened. Is she still here? Oh dear, something must have gone wrong. But something happened – I felt it in my trance – it shivered through me. What is it, Mr Condomine? Your second wife is also here? Oh dear. (Swoons.)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (Example of script introduction) The third piece is a monologue from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. Originally this was a novella written in 1958 by Truman Capote, it was made famous as a 1961 movie starring Audrey Hepburn. A musical and stage production followed. The story follows the life of a quirky New York socialite as seen through the eyes of a man who moves into her apartment building.
Character: Holly Golightly (the main character who is drunk, speaking to Paul).
Type: Comedic Pathos
Well, let me tell you something. Tom, Dick and Harry – NO. Correction. Every Tom, Dick and Sid – Harry was his friend. Anyway, every Tom, Dick and Sid sink – thinks if he takes a girl to dinner, she’ll just curl up in a little furry ball at his feet, right? I have by actual count been taken to dinner by 26 different rats in the last two months, 27, if you count Benny Shacklett, who’s in many ways a super rat. Do you want to know something funny? In spite of the fact that most of these rats fork up $50 for the powder room like little dolls…I find that I had $9 less in my bank account than I did 6 months ago. So, my darling Fred, I have tonight made a serious decision. No longer will I play the field. The field stinks, both economically and socially. And I am giving it up. (pause) Quiet, up there! You want to wake the whole house? As Miss Golightly was saying before she was so rudely interrupted, Miss Golightly further announces her intention to devote her not inconsiderable talents to the immediate capture, for the purpose of matrimony, of Mr. Rutherford – Rusty to his friends, of whom I’m sure he has many – Trawler. Rusty Trawler. You met him at my party. He came with Mag Wildwood. Not the beautiful Latin, the other one. The one who looks like a pig. Remember? The 9th richest man in America under 50? Ah…do I detect disapproval in your eye? Well, tough beans buddy, coz that’s the way it’s going to be. Hi Cat. (pause) True, absolutely true. True but irrelevant. So I think we should have a drink to the new Mrs Rusty Trawler…me! What’s the matter? You don’t think I can do it? Tell me. Seriously I’m interested. Don’t you think I can? You heard the Doc. My brother gets out in February. The Doc won’t take him back. So it’s all up to me. I don’t know why you don’t understand. I need money and I will do whatever I have to do to get it. So…this time next month I’ll be the new Mrs Rusty Trawler. I think we should have a drink to celebrate that. It’s all gone. Isn’t that too bad? Have you got whiskey upstairs? Go ahead. Get the whiskey. I’ll pay you for it. No, No. You disapprove of me, and I do not accept drinks from gentlemen who disapprove of me. I’ll pay for my own whiskey. Don’t you forget it! I do not accept drinks from gentlemen who disapprove of me. Especially disapproving gentlemen who are kept by other women. Go ahead and take the money, you should be used to taking money from women by now. (pause) It should take you exactly four seconds to cross from here to that door. I’ll give you two.
Bull Durham is a 1988 film starring Susan Saradon, Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins. It follows the lives of a baseball fan who has affairs with baseball players, and a pitcher and catcher.
Character: Baseball groupie Annie Savoy
I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan. I know things. For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary and there are 108 stitches in a baseball. When I learned that, I gave Jesus a chance. (sigh) But it just didn’t work out between us. The Lord laid too much guilt on me. I prefer metaphysics to theology. You see, there’s no guilt in baseball, and it’s never borin’ (giggle) – which makes it like sex. There’s never been a ballplayer slept with me who didn’t have the best year of his career. Makin’ love is like hitting a baseball; you just gotta relax and concentrate. Besides, I’d never sleep with a player hitting under 250, unless he had a lot of RBIs, or was a great glove man up the middle. You see, there’s a certain amount of life wisdom I give these boys. I can expand their minds. Sometimes when I’ve got a ballplayer alone, I’ll just read Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman to him. And the guys are so sweet, they always stay and listen. Of course, a guy’ll listen to anything if he thinks it’s foreplay. I make them feel confident, and they make me feel safe – and pretty. Of course, what I give them lasts a lifetime. What they give me lasts 142 games. Sometimes it seems like a bad trade, but bad trades are part of baseball. Now who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for God’s sake! It’s a long season, and you gotta trust it. I’ve tried them all, I really have. And the only church that truly feeds the soul day in, day out is the Church of Baseball.
Burlesque is a 2010 musical film, starring Cher and Christina Aguilera, about a small-town girl who goes to Los Angeles and finds her place in a burlesque club run by a former dancer.
Character: Tess, the club owner first talking to herself about burlesque and then addressing the audience. Adapted from various speeches.
(To herself) Once upon a time …a long, looong time ago… there was a good little girl…and they called her… Burlesque. Vaudeville – derived from the 15th-century French expression “voix de ville” — “voice of the city”. Popular songs of the time that were strung together into stage shows. Which, over time, gave birth to another kind of show in which talented girls showing a bit more skin danced, did skits, and sang. In addition to being raunchier, these shows were funnier, hence the new name.”Burlesque”: “comical” in French. Some say our good little girl died – of neglect. Abandonment. (whisper) Old age. But I say…no matter how hard you try, you can’t keep a good girl down. And I’ve got a bevy of ‘em. Come to think of it, none of them are all that good, which isn’t all that bad… Eight shows a week. Sixteen gorgeous girls. Thirty-two towers of luscious legs… (behind her, our GIRLS slink onto the stage one by one – Tess addresses audience) Say hello to Scarlett. Jesse. Anna. Coco-puff. And Georgie-Girl. All of them the creme-de la creme. De la creme. Each one a bastion of bodacious… Elegance. Not to mention their other… (smacks Coco on the ass) Ass-ets! Smoother than honey and twice as sweet. Each girl lovelier then the next. Welcome to the Burlesque Lounge, dead smack in the center of the Sunset Strip– did I say “strip?” I meant TEASE… The insatiable La Puccini Triplets! Death-defying daredevils Missy and Kitten DeVille! The Countess of contortion, Eva Destruction! And how about a little love for those bad boys of burlesque, our naughty-bawdy bumber band! Gentlemen, hold onto your hats. Ladies, hold on to your gentlemen. We may not have windows.. .but we DO have the best view on the Sunset Strip!
Character: Tess (the club owner talking to Sean, the costumer)
It’s my business. Which I built from the ground up. Which is why I’ll never let it go. No. You cannot say that to me. You cannot tell me it’s time to call it a day. To let it go. I can eat these “sky is falling” dipshits for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but not YOU. You cannot be that person. I’ve scoured dirty flea markets for costumes, stayed up all night sewing till my fingers bled, painted and repainted every goddamn wall of this place myself. I choreographed every step of every number. I’ve played nursemaid, sister, mother and shrink to every girl who’s ever danced here. I’ve hocked every keepsake I’ve ever owned to keep this place afloat. Because this club is the last of its kind, and if it goes away, one day there won’t be anything like it – and THAT would be a tragedy. So you cannot say that to me. Because now someone’s gotta believe in me, Goddamnit! And I need that person to be you. So don’t you ever let me hear you say that again. I will never let this club go. Never.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a 1950’s award-winning play by Tennessee Williams which was adapted into a film in 1958, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman as Maggie and Brick. It’s about an alcoholic ex-footballer who resists his wife’s affections and whose father is dying of cancer.
Character: Maggie to her husband, Brick.
Type: Dramatic Bitterness.
(Laughs manically while looking in mirror.) Why you looking at me like that? Like you were just looking. If you were thinking the same thing I was. I know you better than you think. I’ve seen that look before and I know what it used to mean and it still means the same thing now. Oh, don’t you think I know that I’m not the same woman. Don’t you think I know that I’ve gone through this transformation? That I’ve become hard and frustrated and cruel. (pause) Oh Brick. I get so lonely. Living with someone you love can be lonelier than living entirely alone when the one you love doesn’t love you. You can’t even stand drinking out of the same glass can you? … No! No, I wouldn’t. Why can’t you lose your good looks Brick? Most drinking men lose theirs. Why can’t you. I think you’ve even gotten better looking since you weren’t on the bottle. You were such a wonderful love. … You were so exciting to be in love with. Mostly I guess because you were … If I thought you’d never, never make love to me again, why I’d find me the longest sharpest knife I could and I’d stick it straight into my heart. I’d do that. Oh Brick how long does this have to go on, this punishment? Haven’t I served my term? Can’t I apply for a pardon? … Is it any wonder? You know what I feel like? I feel all the time like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Chicago is a musical set in Prohibition-era Chicago, with music by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb, and a book by Ebb and Bob Fosse. It’s a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and is based on a 1926 play of the same name by reporter Maurine Dallas Watkins about actual criminals and crimes she reported on. The Broadway production opened in 1973 and was adapted into an award-winning film in 2002, starring Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere, John C. Reilly, and Queen Latifah.
Character: Roxie (inmate speaking to warden Mama)
I always wanted to have my name in all the papers. Before I met Amos I use to date this well-to-do ugly bootlegger. He used to like to take me out and show me off. Ugly guys like to do that. Once it said in the paper, “Gangland’s Al Capelli seen at Chez Vito with cute blond chorine.” That was me. I clipped it and saved it. You know, all my life I wanted to have my own act. But noooo, no, no, no, it’s always no, they always turned me down. One big world full of no! And then Amos came along. Safe, sweet Amos. Who never says no. Ohh. (coy giggles) I’ve never done this before, but you know, it is such a special night and you are such a great audience! And, and, I just really feel like I can talk to you, you know? So forget what you’ve read in the papers, and forget what you’ve heard on the radio because, because, because I’m gonna tell you the truth. (giggles) Not that the truth really matters, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. In the bed department, Amos was……zero. I mean, when he made love to me, it was like, it was like he was fixing a carburettor or something, (pretends to play with her breasts, imitating Amos) “I love ya, honey, I love ya!” Anyway, I started fooling around…and then I started screwing around, which is fooling around without dinner. Then I met Fred Casley, who said he could get me into vaudeville, but that didn’t quite work out like I planned. I guess it didn’t really work out too great for Fred either. So I gave up with the whole vaudeville idea, ’cause you gotta figure after all those years — opportunities just pass you by. But it ain’t, oh no no no no, but it ain’t. And now, if this Flynn guy gets me off, with all this publicity, I got me a world full of YES!
Confusions is a play by Alan Ayckbourn consisting of a series of five interconnected one-act plays, first staged in 1974 and played by just five actors. They are Mother Figure; Drinking Companions; Between Mouthfuls; Gosforth’s Fete; and A Talk in the Park where five strangers interact. This is from A Talk in the Park.
Thanks. Sorry, only the man over there won’t stop talking. I wanted to read this in peace. I couldn’t concentrate. He just kept going on and on about his collections or something. I normally don’t mind too much, only if you get a letter like this, you need all your concentration. You can’t have people talking in your ear – especially when you’re trying to decipher writing like this. He must have been stoned out of his mind when he wrote it. It wouldn’t be unusual. Look at it. He wants me to come back. Some hopes. To him. He’s sorry, he didn’t mean to do what he did, he won’t do it again I promise, etc., etc. I seem to have heard that before. It’s not the first time, I can tell you. And there’s no excuse for it, is there? Violence. I mean, what am I supposed to do? Keep going back to that? Every time he loses his temper he … I mean, there’s no excuse. A fracture, you know. It was nearly a compound fracture. That’s what they told me. (Indicates her head) Right here. You can practically see it to this day. Two X-rays. I said to him when I got home, I said, “You bastard, you know what you did to my head?” He just stands there. The way he does. “Sorry,” he says, “I’m ever so sorry.” I told him, I said, “You’re a bastard, that’s what you are. A right, uncontrolled, violent, bad-tempered bastard.” You know what he said? He says, “You call me a bastard again and I’ll smash your stupid face in”.
Curl Up and Dye is a 1989 play by Susan Pam-Grant which is set in a hair salon in Johannesburg. It premiered in 1989 at the Black Sun in Orange Grove, Johannesburg.
Characters: Rolene (a hairdresser); Mrs Dubois (caretaker of block of flats); Charmaine (a Wellconal addict); Miriam (domestic helper); Dudu (a nursing sister).
Character: Rolene speaking to herself and then on the phone. (Act One)
Type: Annoyance, Stress.
Hell, this place looks like a bomb’s gone off. Jissus Miriam – just you show that face of yours in that door and you dead, my girl! (She feels something furry on her foot.) Aaagh!! (She runs to the light switch.) Ooh, gonna, if that’s a rat I’m going to, I’m going to … faint. (She switches on the light.) Ag sis man, it’s yesterday’s hair. (She then goes to switch on the radio and then the kettle. While doing so, she’s mumbling and grumbling to herself.) This place is a mess, looks like a bladdy pigsty. I’m not picking up people’s dead hair, sis – I’m a hairdresser, not a bladdy sweeping girl. This is disgusting. So now who’s going to do the shampooing, and what about the mix for my highlights and my lowlights – Miriam you’ve had it, my girl. (She stands in front of mirror and starts doing something with her hair – phone rings.) Curl Up and Dye International, can I help you? Yes … Ja of course it’s me … At the salon. Ag Denzil, don’t be such a doos, what number did you just dial? .. When … what about five minutes ago? … I was trying to get in … Yes I am … About what? … Then talk … Listen Denzil, don’t you bokkie me … Sorry se voet! Every time afterwards you come and say you sorry you sorry… So, are you going to get the TV back then? … Today Denzil! But didn’t I just say I’m here by myself. Well if you don’t believe me, come down here and check … Ag nobody’s whistling at me, Denzil man – shit it’s the bladdy kettle. (ROLENE slams down the phone and continues with her hair and starts to touch up her make-up.) A few minutes later the phone rings again.) Curl Up and Dye International can I help you? … Jissus Denzil, now what. You can’t keep phoning me man – this is a business line, now hurry up, what you want? … Jissus Denzil sometimes you act like a real doos – the toilet paper is in the toilet and if it’s not in the toilet it’s at the Spar! There’s five rand in my panty drawer. And don’t send the child!
Character: Mrs Dubois to Rolene (Act One)
Type: Judgemental, Gossiping.
So what was her story? This business of Quintus and the knife and all that. What was her version? She say it wasn’t his fault? Se voet it wasn’t bis fault! One minute he’s fine – the next minute he’s there like a raving maniac. Of course, you know me Rolene, I don’t miss a thing. And they were making such a bladdy racket everyone else was out there watching too – the whole world and his wife – and the way they were performing and carrying on, Quintus screaming and shouting, ‘Leave my F … ing chick’ and ‘F … you’ – you know – it was embarrassing, man. Such filthy language. And they started. it hey, I’m telling you Rolene. Naag, rubbish, it wasn’t Jakkals. She was so hoog on the takke she wouldn’t know what the hell was going on – so Quintus pulls out a knife. As sure as my name is Hettie Coralinda Dubois. It was Quintus and he pulled the knife – I saw it. Look Rolene, I wasn’t born with concrete above my ears hey. Would he be standing there waving his arm around like a mad thing if it was a cigarette? I mean really, it was a bladdy knife. So then this other bloke. what’s it – urn – Jakkals – ja, he then tries to stop him – no luck – so he also draws a knife. Ja, so Quintus was in a spot of tight water, but he was so high he didn’t even notice and I think he ran right into the knife! Ja, that’s what happened – he ran into the knife – end of story. No buts … that’s the truth Rolene – hot from the horse’s mouth – there you have it in a nutshell- take what you want. (Miriam enters) And where were you Miriam? What’s this coming in at the time you arrive! For Pete’s sake man, you must come on time! (Sniffs as Rolene says something) Well then Rolene, next time you sitting on the pavement don’t come and complain to me! I never have this kind of a problem with my staff. Make no bones about it I don’t beat around the bush – they bugger me around upstairs, they must go. I don’t want to hear their troubles man. They must just do their job – that’s all I ask.
Character: Rolene speaking to Charmaine (Act One)
Type: Confidential, Concerned.
(She looks at CHARMAINE. Turns back to mirror. She pulls her cardigan down and examines a large bruise on her arm. She speaks into the mirror, occasionally glancing at CHARMAINE’s reflection. While she speaks CHARMAINE responds to a whistle from the street and leaves without her noticing). Denzil … ‘Bokkie!’ Jus’ after we got married hey, ‘Bokkie, in a year or two we’ll have our own house, even if it’s a small one, with a yard for the kids’ … Ja those were his very words. And you know I believed him. And it’s ever since ‘they’ started moving in that things have gone this way. I wish they would jus’ go away. Ag, maybe I should of told him straight – I can’t take it Denzil, I’m leaving … But a family’s got to have a father. And every time – the same pattern; the same story – belt undone – the skeef look – laughing at me. And it’s worse for the kid -shame -she really loves her father, and he’s very nice to that child – takes her to the park, to the Rand Show and that, buys her sweets … Now how can she understand it when she sees her mother crying? … And then I got to lie to her, tell her I’m now upset cos I’m feeling sick. He’s the one that’s sick man. Ag, but as long as I live – I won’t forget nothing … I’m telling you Char … (She turns around to look but Charmaine is not there).
Character: Miriam speaking to Rolene and Mrs Dubois (Act Two)
It’s always Miriam, Miriam, Miriam – you don’t think of me. Now you listen to me once! I’m in troubles – my husband is dying. I got three children in school, I’ve got no food, I’ve got nothing and you don’t want to give me increase! I am twenty years here, and I’m working like a slave! I’m he!ping you here with everything – I’m cleaning – but you don’t even want to say thanks – cause you don’t like me, you just like my hands! Do you think I’m a stupid! I’m not a stupid! You found me here and I teach you everything you know – you didn’t know nothing! I can leave this job at any time, at any moment – then you will call- ‘Miriam where’s this, Miriam where’s that’ because you can’t do nothing without Miriam! This job – it’s not good, Not even for a dog! So you and your Mrs Dubois and your pure white flats can all go to hell- the lot of you! And as for you, Mrs Dubois – you pretend you are my friend, then when it suits you – you just shout at me. You can’t even wash your own pantie – and you call me filth – ga! I don’t care if I’ve just got a Standard Five or what. But at least I can wash’ my own panties! Or hide them before I can let anyone else wash them. You think I’ve got no blood! I don’t want a bladdy glass of sugar water. I want pay! Money – so that I can buy my own sugar! (MIRIAM walks away to the kitchen to cool off.)
Dangerous Beauty is a 1998 biographical film based on the non-fiction book The Honest Courtesan by Margaret Rosenthal. It is about Veronica Franco, a courtesan in sixteenth century Venice who initially becomes a hero in her city, but later becomes the target of an inquisition by the Church for witchcraft.
Character: Margaret on trial.
I will confess, Your Grace. I confess that as a young girl, I loved a man who would not marry me for want of a dowry. I confess I had a mother who taught me a different way of life, one I resisted at first, but learned to embrace. I confess I became a courtesan. Traded yearning for power, welcomed many rather than be owned by one. I confess I embraced a whore’s freedom over a wife’s obedience… Your Grace, what am I to do? I need to confess my evil as the church instructs, these are my sins… I confess I find more ecstasy in passion than in prayer. Such passion IS prayer. I confess… I confess I pray still to feel the touch of my lover’s lips, his hands upon me, his arms enfolding me. Such surrender has been mine. I confess I hunger still to be filled and enflamed, to melt into the dream of us, beyond this troubled place, to where we are not even ourselves, to know that always, always this is mine. If this had not been mine, if I had lived another way, a child to a husband’s whim, my soul hardened from lack of touch and lack of love, I confess such endless days and nights would be punishment far greater than any you could meter out. You, all of you, you who hunger so for what I give, but cannot bear to see such power in a woman. You call God’s greatest gift – ourselves, our yearning, our need for love- you call it filth, and sin, and heresy. I repent there was no other way open to me. I do not repent my life.
Dangerous Liaisons is an award-winning 1988 drama film starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer. It is based on Christopher Hampton’s play, Les liaisons dangereuses which was staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-on-Avon in 1985. The play in turn was a theatrical adaptation of the 1782 French novel Les Liaisons dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. It’s about two rivals, Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, who use sex in their scheming manipulations of other people’s lives.
Character: Marquise Isabelle de Merteuil answering the Vicomte’s question as to how she manages to invent herself.
Well, I had no choice, did I? I’m a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skilful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So, of course, I had to invent not only myself, but ways of escape no one has ever thought of before. And I’ve succeeded because I’ve known I was always born to dominate your sex and avenge my own… When I came out into society, I was 15. 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 practiced 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…If I want a man, I have him. If he wants to tell, he finds that he can’t. That’s the whole story.
Diary of a Mad Black Woman is a 2005 film about a couple with a good marriage that seemed solid, actually begins to crumble when she discovers her husband’s intentions for divorce.
Character: Helen to Charles, her ex-husband.
Let me explain something to you. Old Helen is gone…And you will not talk to me like that. Now I came here to help you. But now, I’m gonna get even…Shut up! You want Brenda and your kids? Do you see what you left me for? This is what you left me for. She didn’t give a damn about you Charles. She told them to let you die. I was your wife I loved you, I never would’ve hurt you. Why did you do this to me? To us? Answer me! And you know what’s funny? I gave you life even though you took it from me. Your kids, your boys….I wanted children Charles. And had you not been with those whores, we would have had them. Got me all stressed out, my hair falling, my weight up and down can’t keep anything down. Two miscarriages. You took life away from me and you never said I’m sorry. I’m gonna let you sit here for a few days and think about what I said.
Erin Brockovich is a 2000 biographical film starring Julia Roberts. It is a dramatization of the true story of Erin Brockovich who fought against the US West Coast energy corporation Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
Character: Erin to the company representatives.
Type: Aggressive Dramatic
Oh, see, now that pisses me off. First of all — since the demur, we now have more than four hundred plaintiffs…and (mocking her) “let’s be honest”, we all know there’s more out there. Now, they may not be the most sophisticated people, but they do know how to divide, and twenty million dollars isn’t shit when it’s split between them. And second of all — these people don’t dream about being rich. They dream about being able to watch their kids swim in a pool without worrying they’ll have to have a hysterectomy at age 20, like Rosa Diaz — a client of ours — or have their spine deteriorate like Stan Bloom. Another client of ours. So before you come back here with another lame-ass offer, I want you to think real hard about what your spine is worth, Mr.Buda — or what you’d expect someone to pay you for your uterus, Ms. Sanchez — then you take out your calculator and multiply that number by a hundred. Anything less than that is a waste of our time.
Fanny’s First Play is a play by George Bernard Shaw which opened in 1911 which is a satire of theatre critics, whose characters were based upon Shaw’s own detractors – it features a play within a play.
Character: Margaret relating her recent escapade to her mother.
Oh, I don’t know. It was boat-race night, they said. The meeting at the great Salvation Festival got on my nerves somehow. It was the singing, I suppose: you know I love singing a good swinging hymn; and I felt it was ridiculous to go home in the bus after we had been singing so wonderfully about climbing up the golden stairs to heaven. I wanted more music—more happiness—more life. I wanted some comrade who felt as I did. I felt exalted: it seemed mean to be afraid of anything: after all, what could anyone do to me
against my will? I suppose I was a little mad: at all events, I got out of the bus at Piccadilly Circus, because there was a lot of light and excitement there. I walked to Leicester Square; and went into a great theatre. Lots of other women were going in alone. I had to pay five shillings. It was very stuffy; and I didn’t like the people much, because they didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves; but the stage was splendid and the music lovely. I saw that Frenchman, Monsieur Duvallet, standing against a barrier, smoking a cigarette. He seemed quite happy; and he was nice and sailor-like. I went and stood beside him, hoping he would speak to me. He did, just as if he had known me for years. We got on together like old friends. He asked me would I have some champagne; and I said it would cost too much, but that I would give anything for a dance. I longed to join the people on the stage and dance with them: one of them was the most beautiful dancer I ever saw. He told me he had come there to see her, and that when it was over we could go somewhere where there was dancing. So we went to a place where there was a band in a gallery and the floor cleared for dancing. Very few people danced: the women only wanted to shew off their dresses; but we danced and danced until a lot of them joined in. We got quite reckless; and we had champagne after all. I never enjoyed anything so much. But at last it got spoilt by the Oxford and Cambridge students up for the boat race. They got drunk; and they began to smash things; and the police came in. Then it was quite horrible. The students fought with the police; and the police suddenly got quite brutal, and began to throw everybody downstairs. They attacked the women, who were not doing anything, and treated them just as roughly as they had treated the students. Duvallet got indignant and remonstrated with a policeman, who was shoving a woman though she was going quietly as fast as she could. The policeman flung the woman through the door and then turned on Duvallet. It was then that Duvallet swung his leg like a windmill and knocked the policeman down. And then three policemen rushed at him and carried him out by the arms and legs face downwards. Two more attacked me and gave me a shove to the door. That quite maddened me. I just got in one good bang on the mouth of one of them. All the rest was dreadful. I was rushed through the streets to the police station. They kicked me with their knees; they twisted my arms; they taunted and insulted me; they called me vile names; and I told them what I thought of them, and provoked them to do their worst. There’s one good thing about being hard hurt: it makes you sleep. I slept in that filthy cell with all the other drunks sounder than I should have slept at home. I can’t describe how I felt next morning: it was hideous; but the police were quite jolly; and everybody said it was a bit of English fun, and talked about last year’s boat-race night when it had been a great deal worse. I was black and blue and sick and wretched. But the strange thing was that I wasn’t sorry; and I’m not sorry. And I don’t feel that I did anything wrong, really. Now that it’s all over I’m rather proud of it; though I know now that I’m not a lady; but whether that’s because we’re only shopkeepers, or because nobody’s really a lady except when they’re treated like ladies, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I don’t understand it myself. The prayer meeting set me free, somehow. I should never have done it if it were not for the prayer meeting. I suppose what I did was not evil; or else I was set free for evil as well as good. As father says, you can’t have anything both ways at once. When I was at home and at school I was what you call good; but I wasn’t free. And when I got free I was what most people would call not good. But I see no harm in what I did; though I see plenty in what other people did to me. I don’t think I’m a heroine of romance. I’m a heroine of reality, if you can call me a heroine at all. And reality is pretty brutal, pretty filthy, when you come to grips with it. Yet it’s glorious all the same. It’s so real and satisfactory. It’s no use, mother. I don’t care for you and Papa any the less; but I shall never get back to the old way of talking again. I’ve made a sort of descent into hell—
Francis is a 1982 American drama film starring Jessica Lange, Kim Stanley, and Sam Shepard, an account of actress Frances Farmer’s life and focussing on her relationship with her domineering mother, and her subsequent mental breakdown.
Character: Francis addressing her mother and father.
No! All you’ve done is try to break my spirit, try to turn me into you! But I’m not you, mother, and I never will be, and thank god for it! (to Ernest) That goes for you too! And frankly, I don’t know how, with the two of you, I turned out as sane as I am. (to the men in white coasts who are at the door) Wait right there, gentlemen, I’ll be with you in a minute… and believe me, I don’t want to stay here one second longer than I have to! (turning back) But I’ve got to tell you, Lillian, that one day before you die, you will realize what you’ve done and hang your head in shame. In shame! No! You’re not talking now. You listen. You can send me away, Lillian, you can pretend I’m crazy and pretend I’m still your little girl who can’t take care of herself, but one thing you can’t pretend anymore. You can’t pretend I love you because I don’t. I can’t. Not after what you’ve done to me. Because you see… I’m still me… I’m trying real hard all this time to be me… and you, ‘little sister’, you haven’t been any help at all. (walking out the door) Okay, boys, I’m ready.
Funny Girl is a 1964 Broadway musical with a book by Isobel Lennart, music by Jule Styne, and lyrics by Bob Merrill. Barbra Streisand starred in both the musical and the 1968 film adaptation. The semi-biographical plot is based on the life and career of Broadway, film star and comedienne Fanny Brice and her stormy relationship with entrepreneur and gambler Nicky Arnstein. Its original title was My Man.
Character: Fanny Brice
Suppose all ya ever had for breakfast was onion rolls. Then one day, in walks (gasp) a bagel! You’d say, ‘Ugh, what’s that?’ Until you tried it! That’s my problem – I’m a bagel on a plate full of onion rolls. Nobody recognizes me! Listen, I got 36 expressions. Sweet as pie and tough as leather. And that’s six expressions more than all those… Barrymores put together. Instead of just kicking me, why don’t they give me a lift? Well, it must be a plot, ’cause they’re scared that I got…such a gift! ‘Cause I’m the greatest star, I am by far, but no one knows it. Wait – they’re gonna hear a voice, a silver flute. They’ll cheer each toot, hey, she’s terrific!, when I expose it. Now can’t you see to look at me that I’m a natural Camille, and as Camille, I just feel, I’ve so much to offer. Kid, I know I’d be divine because I’m a natural cougher (coughs) – some ain’t got it, not a lump. I’m a great big clump of talent! Laugh, they’ll bend in half. Did you ever hear the story about the travelling salesman? A thousand jokes, stick around for the jokes. A thousand faces. I reiterate. When you’re gifted, then you’re gifted. These are facts, I’ve got no axe to grind. Ay! What are ya, blind? In all of the world so far, I’m the greatest star! No autographs, please. What? You think beautiful girls are gonna stay in style forever? I should say not! Any minute now they’re gonna be out! FINISHED! Then it’ll be my turn!
Girl Interrupted is an award-winning 1999 film, an adaptation of Susanna Kaysen’s 1993 memoir of the same name which is about Kaysen’s 18-month stay at a mental institution. It starred Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Brittany Murphy, Whoopi Goldberg and Vanessa Redgrave.
Character: Lisa to Daisy
We don’t need your daddy’s money. (Daisy extends her hand to get the Valium and Lisa grabs her arm revealing a badly-cut arm). What’s this? What’s this, huh? Trying out your new silver? (Daisy breaks free and walks away.) Less appealing for Daddy, hmm? Look at my own arm? I’m sick, Daisy, we know that, but here you are in so-called recovery, playing Betty Crocker, cut up like a goddamned Virginia Ham. Help me understand, Dais, ’cause I thought you didn’t do Valium. Tell me how the safety net is working for you…Tell me that you don’t take that blade and drag it across your skin and pray for the courage to press down. Tell me how your Daddy… …helps you cope with that. Illuminate me. Yeah, I bet your daddy loves you…with every inch of his manhood. They didn’t release you because you’re better, Daisy. They just gave up. You call this a life, hmm? Taking daddy’s money, buying your dollies and your knick-knacks, and eating his fucking chicken, fattening up like a prize fucking heifer? You changed the scenery, but not the fucking situation, and the warden makes house calls. And everybody knows… everybody knows (runs tongue across teeth) that he fucks you. But what they don’t know – is that you like it. Hmm? You like it. But hey, man, it’s cool. It’s fine! It’s fucking fine! A man is a dick, is a man is a dick, is a chicken. Valium, speculum, whatever, hmm? Whatever. You like being Mrs. Randone. Probably all you’ve ever known.Yeah.
Gray Matters is a 2006 comedic romance film about a brother and sister who look for partners for each other.
I quit weight watchers. Can you believe it? I quit! Fergie schmergie! I hate fibre. I like mallomars and if Derek isn’t going to love me for the tiny amount of cellulite I have on the back of my thighs then fuck him. Screw that guy. This is the package ok? It’s exactly the same under the wrapping. This is the packages, no exchanges, no returns. Right? Why does our society push us to be perpetually uncomfortable with who we are. It’s so messed up! Wanna know why? (Reading from a magazine) “Boost your buttocks and thighs. Luscious Liposuction. Flawless face lifts.” That’s why. Enough is enough. We need to stop letting society and media and our religious leaders delegate who we are. You’re amazing and I’m even more amazing and anybody who doesn’t get it can screw themselves… (sighs) that felt fantastic.
Gremlins is a 1985 film about a young man who receives a strange creature as a pet which then spawns others who turn into evil monsters.
Character: Kate Beringer tells her boyfriend, Billy, about how she found out that there was no Santa Claus.
The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple of hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. And that’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney on Christmas Eve, his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.
In & Out is a 1997 comedic starring Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Tom Selleck, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Newhart, and Wilford Brimley. It’s about a Midwestern teacher who questions his sexuality after a former student makes a comment about him at the Academy Awards.
Character: Emily to her fiancé, Hubert, who has told her that he is gay.
Type: Dramatic Humour
But I lost 75 pounds. I lost 75 pounds! You’re sorry?! You’re sorry?! After I wait for you! No, not just three years! My entire life! After I plan my future around our wedding. After I base my entire concept of self-esteem on the fact that you’re willing to marry me! And you’re sorry! Thank God my parents are dead, this would have killed ‘em! Are you really…gay? Is there-oh- ANY OTHER TIME YOU MIGHT HAVE TOLD ME THIS! I’M WEARING A WEDDING DRESS THAT YOU PICKED OUT! I highlighted my hair because you said I needed shimmer. I loved you and believed you and pretended not to notice the Streisand thing. I thought you were just creative and I thought you were just smarter than me and more sensitive and more interesting. I just thought you were the most wonderful man that ever lived. I thought you could just change my life and show me the whole world. And teach me about art and life and magic and I thought you could make me feel like a beautiful woman instead of the girl nobody wanted. (Charges out of the room to the room full of wedding guests) (Yelling) Does anybody know how many times I’ve had to watch Funny Lady?! (To Hubert) Fuck Barbara Streisand! And you! (Punches him and runs out) Stop! Somebody! This is an emergency. I need a heterosexual code red!
Kramer vs. Kramer is a 1979 American drama film adapted by Robert Benton from the novel by Avery Corman, and directed by Benton. It’s about a married couple’s divorce and its impact on everyone involved, including the couple’s young son.
Character: Joanna on the witness stand.
Yes … look, during the last five years we were married, I had … I was getting more and more … unhappy, more and more frustrated. I needed to talk to somebody. I needed to find out if it was me, if I was going crazy or what. But every time I turned to Ted – my ex-husband, he couldn’t handle it. He became very … I don’t know, very threatened. I mean, whenever I would bring up anything he would act like it was some kind of personal attack. Anyway, we became more and more separate … more and more isolated from one another. Finally, I had no other choice, I had to leave. And because of my ex-husband’s attitude – his unwillingness to deal with my feelings, I had come to have almost no self-esteem … At the time I left, I sincerely believed that there was something wrong with me – that my son would be better off without me. It was only when I got to California and started into therapy I began to realize I wasn’t a terrible person. And that just because I needed some creative and emotional outlet other than my child, that didn’t make me unfit to be a mother. I returned to New York because my son is here. And his father is here. As a mother, I don’t want my son to be separated from his father. I am asking for custody of my son … because he’s my child … because I love him. I know I left my son, I know that’s a terrible thing to do. Believe me – I have to live with that every day of my life. But just because I’m a woman, don’t I have a right to the same hopes and dreams as a man? Don’t I have a right to a life of my own? Is that so awful? Is my pain any less just because I’m a woman? Are my feelings any cheaper? I left my child – I know there is no excuse for that. But since then, I have gotten help. I have worked hard to become a whole human being. I don’t think I should be punished for that. I don’t think my son should be punished for that. Billy’s only six. He needs me. I’m not saying he doesn’t need his father, but he needs me more. I’m his mother.
Lady Windermere’s Fan is a play about a good woman, Lady Windermere, who thinks that her husband may be having an affair with another woman. This four act comedy by Oscar Wilde was first produced in 1892 at the St James’s Theatre in London. Among other adaptations, the BBC produced a televised version, which aired in 1985.
Character: Lady Windermere
Why doesn’t he come? This waiting is horrible. He should be here. Why is he not here, to wake by passionate words some fire within me? I am cold – cold as a loveless thing. Arthur must have read my letter by this time. If he cared for me, he would have come after me, would have taken me back by force. But he doesn’t care. He’s entrammelled by this woman – fascinated by her – dominated by her. If a woman wants to hold a man, she has merely to appeal to what is worst in him. We make gods of men and they leave us. Others make brutes of them and they fawn and are faithful. How hideous life is! . . . Oh! it was mad of me to come here, horribly mad. And yet, which is the worst, I wonder, to be at the mercy of a man who loves one, or the wife of a man who in one’s own house dishonours one? What woman knows? What woman in the whole world? But will he love me always, this man to whom I am giving my life? What do I bring him? Lips that have lost the note of joy, eyes that are blinded by tears, chill hands and icy heart. I bring him nothing. I must go back – no; I can’t go back, my letter has put me in their power – Arthur would not take me back! That fatal letter! No! Lord Darlington leaves England to-morrow. I will go with him – I have no choice. No, no! I will go back, let Arthur do with me what he pleases. I can’t wait here. It has been madness my coming. I must go at once. As for Lord Darlington – Oh! here he is! What shall I do? What can I say to him? Will he let me go away at all? I have heard that men are brutal, horrible . . . Oh!
Character: Mrs Erlynne
Type: Dramatic Pleading
(Starts, with a gesture of pain, then restrains herself, and comes over to where LADY WINDERMERE is sitting. As she speaks, she stretches out her hands towards her, but does not dare to touch her.) Believe what you choose about me. I am not worth a moment’s sorrow. But don’t spoil your beautiful young life on my account! You don’t know what may be in store for you, unless you leave this house at once. You don’t know what it is to fall into the pit, to be despised, mocked, abandoned, sneered at – to be an outcast! To find the door shut against one, to have to creep in by hideous byways, afraid every moment lest the mask should be stripped from one’s face, and all the while to hear the laughter, the horrible laughter of the world, a thing more tragic than all the tears the world has ever shed. You don’t know what it is. One pays for one’s sin, and then one pays again, and all one’s life one pays. You must never know that. As for me, if suffering be an expiation, then at this moment I have expiated all my faults, whatever they have been; for tonight you have made a heart in one who had it not, made it and broken it. But let that pass. I may have wrecked my own life, but I will not let you wreck yours. You – why, you are a mere girl, you would be lost. You haven’t got the kind of brains that enables a woman to get back. You have neither the wit nor the courage. You couldn’t stand dishonour! No! Go back, Lady Windermere, to the husband who loves you, whom you love. You have a child, Lady Windermere. Go back to that child who even now, in pain or in joy, may be calling to you. God gave you that child. He will require from you that you make his life fine, that you watch over him. What answer will you make to God if his life is ruined through you? Back to your house, Lady Windermere – your husband loves you! He has never swerved for a moment from the love he bears you. But even if he had a thousand loves, you must stay with your child. If he was harsh to you, you must stay with your child. If he ill-treated you, you must stay with your child. If he abandoned you, your place is with your child.
Character: The Duchess of Berwick
Type: Arrogant/Malicious Advice-giving
Ah, what indeed, dear? That is the point. He goes to see her continually and stops for hours at a time. And while he is there, she is not at home to anyone. Not that many ladies call on her, dear, but she has a great many disreputable men friends, my own brother particularly, as I told you, and that is what makes it so dreadful about Windermere. We looked upon him as being such a model husband, but I am afraid there is no doubt about it. My dear nieces, you know the Saville girls, don’t you? Such nice domestic creatures, plain, dreadfully plain, but so good, well, they’re always at the window doing fancy work, and making ugly things for the poor, which I think so useful of them in these dreadful socialistic days, and this terrible woman has taken a house in Curzon Street, right opposite them, such a respectable street, too! I don’t know what we’re coming to! And they tell me that Windermere goes there four and five times a week – they see him. They can’t help it – and although they never talk scandal, they – well, of course – they remark on it to everyone. And the worst of it all is that I have been told that this woman has got a great deal of money out of somebody, for it seems that she came to London six months ago without anything at all to speak of, and now she has this charming house in Mayfair, drives her ponies in the Park every afternoon and all – well, all – since she has known poor dear Windermere. It’s quite true, my dear. The whole of London knows about it. That is why I felt it was better to come and talk to you, and advise you to take Windermere away at once to Homburg or to Aix, where he’ll have something to amuse him, and where you can watch him all day long. I assure you, my dear, that on several occasions after I was first married, I had to pretend to be very ill, and was obliged to drink the most unpleasant mineral waters, merely to get Berwick out of town. He was so extremely susceptible. Though I am bound to say he never gave away any large sums of money to anybody. He is far too high-principled for that.
Magnolia is a 1999 film about two dying men who want to make contact with their estranged adult child.
Character: Linda telling her husband’s lawyer that she wants the will changed.
Type: Dramatic Hysteria
I’m so fucked up right now. There’s just so much, so many things. If – If I tell you something. If – if I say things then – you’re a lawyer, right? You can’t – you can’t say anything – you can’t tell anybody – it’s like a privilege right? Attorney – client – you understand. Look, look like a shrink. If I go see a shrink I’m protected – I can say things – Fuck! What am I doing? I have to tell you something, I have something to tell you. I want to change his will. Can I change his will? I need to. No, no, no, you see, um, I never loved him. I never loved him. Earl. When I met him – when I started – I met him, I fucked him, and I married him because I wanted his money. You understand? I’m telling you this … I’ve never told anyone, I didn’t love him … but now, I know I’m in that will. I mean, we’re all there together. We made that fucking thing and all the money I’ll get. And I don’t want it, because I love him so much now. I’ve fallen in love with him now for real as he’s dying. I look at him, and he’s about to go, Alan. He’s moments. I took care of him through this, Alan. What now? I don’t want him to die. I didn’t love him when we met, and I did so many bad things to him that he doesn’t know. Things that I want to confess to him. But now I do. I love him. This isn’t any fucking medication talking! I don’t know, I don’t know. Can you give me nothing? You have power of attorney! Can you go, can you go in the final fucking moments and change the will? I don’t want any money. I couldn’t live with myself with this thing that I’ve done. I’ve done so many bad things. I fucked around. I fucking cheated on him. I fucking cheated on him, Alan! There. There. You’re his lawyer, our lawyer. I am his wife. We are married. I broke the contract of marriage. I fucked around on him many times. I sucked other men’s cocks. (breaking down and crying and sobbing unintelligibly) Oh the things I’ve done.
Mean Girls is a 2004 film about the superficial lives of high-school girls.
Let me tell you something about Janis Ian. We were best friends in middle school. (makes a face) I know right, it’s soooo embarrassing. I don’t even…whatever. So then in eighth grade I started going out with my first boyfriend Kyle, who was totally gorgeous but then he moved to Indiana – and Janis was like, weirdly jealous of him. Like if I would blow her off to hang out with Kyle, she’d be like “Why didn’t you call me back?!” and I’d be like, “Uh, why are you so obsessed with me?” So then for my birthday party, which was an all girls pool party, I was like, “Janis I can’t invite you because I think you’re a lesbian” I mean, I couldn’t have a lesbian at my party! There were going to be girls there in their bathing suits! I mean right, she was a lesbian! So then her mom called my mom and started yelling at her and it was so retarded and then she dropped out of school ’cause no one would talk to her and she came back in the fall for high school and her hair was all cut off and she was totally weird and now I guess she’s on crack. (Gasps and turns to Lea) Oh my God! I love your skirt, where did you get it? Your mom’s? From the 80’s? Vintage, so adorable. (Watches Lea walk away) That is the ugliest effing skirt I’ve ever seen.
Mommie Dearest is a 1981 biographical drama film about the actress Joan Crawford, starring Faye Dunaway, which depicts the abusive and traumatic adoptive upbringing of Christina Crawford at the hands of her mother.
Character: Joan Crawford to her daughter
Type: Violent Abuse
No wire hangers! What’s wire hangers doing in this closet when I told you no wire hangers?! EVER!!!! I work till I’m half dead and I hear people say she’s getting old! What do I get ? A daughter who cares as much about the beautiful dresses I give her as she cares about me. What’s wire hangers doing in this closet?! Answer me! I buy you beautiful dresses and you treat ‘em like they were some dishrag! You do! You threw a 300 dollar dress on a wire hanger! We’ll see how many you got hidden over here, we’ll see! Get out of that bed! All of this is coming out! Out! Out! Out! Out! We’re gonna see how many wire hangers you got in your closet! Huh! Wire hangers. Why? Why? Why? Christina, get out of that bed! Get out of that bed! (picks up hanger and begins to beat Christina) You live in the most beautiful house in Brentwood and you don’t care if your clothes look hunchbacked from wire hangers. And your room looks like a two-dollar-a-week priced room in some cheap backstreet town in Oklahoma! Get up! Get up! Clean up this mess! Did you scrub the bathroom floor today? Did you? When I taught you to call me Mommy … I wanted you to mean it. Come here! Look at this floor! Do you call that clean? Do you? Do you think it’s clean? Look at that. Do you see? Dirt on the floor. We’re going to clean this floor, you and me together. Go! Scrub hard. Scrub! Scrub, Christina! This floor is not clean. Look at it! It’s not clean! Nothing is clean. This whole place is a mess! Clean up this mess!
Monster is a 2003 film based on the real life of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, a former prostitute who was executed in Florida in 2002 for killing six men in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Charlize Theron played the part of Aileen and her fictionalized lover, Selby, was played by Christina Ricci.
Character: Aileen to Selby.
Type: Dramatic Menacing.
Okay, we are going to talk about all of this, a’ryt? You don’t know what’s going on, Sel! But shit man, I do. So if you want to shut your eyes to the whole world, then the least you can do is hear me out. Now, it is not what you think it is. No. NO! You don’t know my fucking life Selby! But I know yours. And I’ve done everything in the whole wide world hoping that you’d never have to know. So you – so you could go on thinking that people are good…and kind, and that it should make sense. You know? Because I love that about you, Sel. But I can’t. So that’s why you need to hear this… I had to kill them. I have to kill those fucking rapists out there and screw all the people that say I shouldn’t! A’ryt, they can go fuck themselves!
God? Oh Selby, don’t talk to me about the Lord. Fuck man…I’m good with the Lord. I’m fine with him. And, and I know how you were raised; a’ryt. And I know how fucking people think out there and fuck it’s got to be that way! They got to tell you all that ‘thou shalt not kill’ shit and all of that! But that’s not the way the world works, Selby. And I know, because I’m out there every fucking day, living it! Who the fuck knows what God wants!? People kill each other every day. And for what? Hm? For politics; and religion …and they’re HEROES!? No! No! There’s a lot of shit I can’t do anymore; but killing’s not one of them. And letting those fucking bastards out there go and rape somebody else – that isn’t either! And there’s something you got to understand, Selby. They’re monsters. I mean, you can’t excuse what they did to me! You know me…you think I could do it otherwise? I’m not a bad person; I’m a real good person. Right? So don’t feel bad. It’s life, Sel. People like me and you go down every fucking day. But not all of us … You need to trust me, Sel. I love you; with all my heart, my mind and my soul. And – and I wouldn’t let anything ever happen to you! So you need to trust me. Can you?
My Fair Lady is a 1964 musical film adaptation of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name, based on the 1938 film adaptation of the original stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. It’s about a professor who takes a poor flower-seller under his wing and turns her into a lady.
Character: Eliza Doolittle at the races.
(Greeting Professor Higgin’s mother’s invited guests) How kind of you to let me come. How do you do? How do you do? How do you do? How do you do? Good afternoon, Professor Higgins. Ah, the weather. The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. But in Hartford, Heresford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen. (To Freddy) What is wrong with that, young man? I bet I got it right. Influenza? My aunt died of influenza, so they said. But it’s my belief they done the old woman in. Yes Lord love you! Why should she die of influenza when she come through diphtheria right enough the year before? Fairly blue with it she was. They all thought she was dead. But my father, he kept ladling gin down her throat. Then she come to so sudden she bit the bowl off the spoon. Now, what call would a woman with that strength in her have to die of influenza, and what become of her new straw hat that should have come to me? Somebody pinched it, and what I say is, them that’s pinched it, done her in. Them she lived with would have killed her for a hatpin, let alone a hat. The gin wouldn’t have killed her. Not her. Gin was as mother’s milk to her. Besides, my father poured so much down his own throat he knew the good of it. He drank? My word, something chronic. (To Freddy) Here, what are you sniggering at? Well, if I was doing it proper, what was you sniggering at? Have I said anything I oughtn’t? Well, that’s a mercy anyhow.
Nuts is a 1987 American drama film starring Barbra Streisand and Richard Dreyfuss. It’s about a high-class call girl accused of murder and who fights for the right to stand trial rather than be declared mentally incompetent.
Character: Claudia to the prosecuting attorney on whether or not she is nuts – he is asking her if she loves her mother.
When I was a little girl, I used to say to her, I love you to the moon and down again, and around the world and back again; and she used to say to me, I love you to the sun and down again, and around the stars and back again. Do you remember, Mama? And I used to think, wow, I love Mama and Mama loves me, and what can go wrong? What went wrong, Mama? I love you and you love me, and what went wrong? You see, I know she loves me, and I know I love her, and- so what? So what? She’s over there, and I’m over here, and she hates me because of things I’ve done to her, and I hate her because of things she’s done to me. You stand up there asking, do you love you daughter, and they say “yes”, and you think you’ve asked something real, and they think they’ve said something real. You think because you throw the word love around like a Frisbee that we’re all going to get warm and runny. No. Something happens to some people. They love you so much, they stop noticing you’re there, because they’re so busy loving you. They love you so much, their love is a gun, and they fire it straight into your head. They love you so much you go right into the hospital. Yes, I know my mother loves me. Mama, I know you love me. And I know the one thing you learn when you grow up is that love is not enough. It’s too much, and it’s not enough.
Network is a 1976 satirical film about a fictional television network, UBS, and its struggle with poor ratings.
Character: Diana, who heads the network’s programming department, talking to her staff.
Look, we’ve got a bunch of hobgoblin radicals called the Ecumenical Liberation Army who go around taking home movies of themselves robbing banks. Maybe they’ll take movies of themselves kidnapping heiresses, hijacking 747’s, bombing bridges, assassinating ambassadors. We’d open each week’s segment with that authentic footage, hire a couple of writers to write some story behind that footage, and we’ve got ourselves a series. Listen, I sent you all a concept analysis report yesterday. Did any of you read it? Well, in a nutshell, it said the American people are turning sullen. They’ve been clobbered on all sides by Vietnam, Watergate, the inflation, the depression. They’ve turned off, shot up, and they’ve fucked themselves limp. And nothing helps. Evil still triumphs over all, Christ is a dope-dealing pimp, even sin turned out to be impotent. The whole world seems to be going nuts and flipping off into space-like an abandoned balloon. So– this concept analysis report concludes — the American people want somebody to articulate their rage for them. I’ve been telling you people since I took this job six months ago that I want angry shows. I don’t want conventional programming on this network. I want counter-culture. I want anti-establishment. Now, 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. We 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. And, by the way, the next time I send an audience research report around, you all better read it, or I’ll sack the fucking lot of you, is that clear?
People are living there is a 1968 play by the renowned South African playwright Athol Fugard that tells the extraordinary story of an ordinary women as she reveals the sadness and frustration of her life. Millie, the feisty and volatile landlady of an old, sleazy boarding house, is dumped by her lover on her fiftieth birthday. She is determined both to have her revenge and to celebrate even if it kills her, as she persuades her downbeat lodgers to join her for a painteresque birthday party that none of them will ever forget. It premiered in 1968 in Scotland and Fugard directed the South African premiere in 1969.
Characters: Milly (landlady); Don (lodger); Shorty (lodger); Sissy (Shorty’s wife)
Character: Sissy to Shorty (Act One)
Type: Insulting, Dominating.
I said No! I’m sick of you and those silkworms! Anyway you told me you threw them away. Oh! Hiding the others are you. From who? From me? That’s not very nice is it? They’re mine you know. Jossie gave them to me. Where are they? (Pause.) Shorty Langeveld where are my silkworms. You know what you are? A bad boy. (stamping her foot). I said N – 0 spells No! Beetroot leaves! Ask some old Coolie shop for Beetroot leaves? On a Saturday night? Are you mad? And what will that make me look like? Going to the movies with a brown-paper bag! Full of Beetroot leaves. What will Billy think? “Beetroot leaves, Billy. For Shorty.” Yes. That’s what I will say. “Shorty eats Beetroot leaves, Billy.” He’ll laugh at you you know. He’ll’tell me again I’m married to a poep. Ag! Why do I talk to you. (Sissy turns away in disgust and goes to the stove where she collects a pair of stockings that have been hanging up to dry.) (To Milly) They got wet. I only got one pair. He’s to blame. (Pointing to Shorty.) Blame him. He’s supposed to earn the living. (Speaking to Shorty again.) Jossie’s got five pairs you know. Five. And she hasn’t even got a husband. (On the point of putting on the stockings she turns to Shorty who has been standing abashed, watching her.) Where’s your respect? Look the other way! (Shorty turns his back.) What I would like to ask you, Shorty Langeveld, is what the use is a husband that don’t even bring home the living what he’s supposed to earn? What sort of postman loses his letters! That’s what I’d like to know. Ashamed of yourself, I hope. (To Don and Milly.) I don’t – suppose he told you. One pound ten taken off because he lost letters again. It’s not the first time. There he IS. Ask him. You told Ma you could earn me a living. This is no married life. (She is finished with her stockings.) You can look now! (Sissy puts on her shoes, then takes out lipstick, mirror and powder-compact.) You know what I warned you! Well, I mean it. Once more, oh boy! Just you come home once more with your pay short and I’ll do it. I swear to God I’ll do it. And it won’t do you any good to cry. Yes, he cried. This big boy cried. Whaaa … whaa … whaa. Real tears. “Don’t, Sissy! Please, Sissy! I promise, Sissy!” (Shorty has not yet turned to face her.) I said you can look now. Turn around! (He does so. The sight of him provokes her still more.) Come here. Let’s make you pretty. Tell Milly and Don what a pretty boy we make you in the room. Red rips, rosy cheeks. (To Don and Milly.) He lets me do it upstairs. (To Shorty.) Didn’t you tell them? You don’t seem to tell your friends anything about what goes on. You know what you are? (Sissy leans forward suddenly and writes on his forehead with her lipstick.) That’s what you are! (Picks up her bag and flounces out of the room.)
Character: Milly to Mr Ahlers, her ex-lover who is offstage. (Act One)
Type: Jealous, Angry.
Sit down. Talk to Don. Pretend nothing’s happened. It’s him all right. (Milly goes to the door and takes up a pose of studied indifference, her arms folded, smoking.) (A loud voice, and heavily sarcastic to start with.) As I was saying chaps fine feathers making fine birds is one thing but a bald head that can’t even speak the English language properly, is another. There’s not a hope in hell for you know who, even in a new suit. So it’s no good anybody trying to get classy ideas around here, because we know all about it , (Now speaking directly to Ahlers, who is in the passage.) Enjoy yourself … with your old friend from Germany. And please don’t worry about me. I’ll just sit here in the kitchen and twiddle my thumbs. After all it was only ten years. Why worry about them? (Her anger and resentment beginning to break through.) Well, you’d better, because they were mine. Those were ten years of my life and you had them cheap. Just don’t think that means I’m hard-up for you. Because I’ve got a surprise for you, Mr. Big Shot. I’m also going to have a good time tonight. You bet. I’m going to have the best good time of my life. And it won’t be beer and sausages at the Phoenix’ Put that where the monkey puts his nuts. And when you come home I’ll be out and there’ll be an account for fifty pounds in your bed. (Now shouting) Because if you think this is the end of me you’ve got another guess coming. I’ve only started. Nothing has stopped, you understand. You’re not God. You can’t tell me it’s over. (Front door slams.) Yes go on! Go on, get the hell out of here, you rotten stinking thief. Thief! You heard that, I hope? (Shorty and Don nod.) Good! I’m glad. I wanted to humiliate him in public, and I think I succeeded. You should have seen him. He crawled through that door like a dog with his tail between his legs. Enough! Let’s leave it at that. Because I meant it. Every solitary syllable. I am going out and I am going to have a good time. Because, just between you and me, the old Phoenix was a bit of a flop the last couple of times. I’ve actually been looking for a way to get out of it. Now I’ve got it. Strictly speaking that makes this a stroke of luck. A chance to really enjoy myself for a change. In fact why not the three of us. There’s an idea! Let’s make it a trio.
Character: Milly to Don and Shorty (Act Two)
Type: Sad, Angry.
How can I put it? It happened. The thing boys don’t know about that happens to girls. Suddenly it was there. I sat on my bed with my body, being brave – but I didn’t know it anymore, if I liked it anymore. I mean me. To me be. It used to be fun, to be small. But suddenly I had to be careful because I was getting big. And Happiness was slipping away! I tried to hold it. I had it. That night I mean … Happiness. It felt like I was holding it so tight it was forever and ever. But my hands! It was also my hands. I’d sit on my bed and look at them. Because they weren’t so much use anymore. They didn’t hold – get a good grip and hold the way they used to. Everything was growing! It was too late! Always too late. Voices calling from the front door, “Come in now! It’s late!” And you calling back, “Let me play a little longer.” But no, somehow it was always too late. So go to bed little girl. Go to bed, get big and then you can play all night. Mildred Constance Jenkins. Fifty years old. (Her hands.) The identical pair. (She drops them.) And that’s more or less the way it was. The way it happened, whatever it was. The course of events was normal. Nothing really wrong, or ever really right. Nothing big to remember one way or another. Just little things, and slowly, so that now it’s gone, almost everything, even … I’m not a woman any more … he says. I never thought of it like that, but he says I’m not a woman any more. Last week it was, one night. He was eating liver sausage in bed and I just told him, you know, in case he started wondering. Then he said, matter-of-fact I’ll admit, not meaning to hurt, that therefore strictly speaking I’m not a woman any more. It sounded logical the way he put it. To do with function. The function of a thing, and being a woman, that meant babies. And you see, suddenly he sat up and said he wanted a family! Because of the business and Ahlers being a good name to keep alive through the ages. We better stop now, he said. But we can still be friends. So you see it’s gone. Or just about. A little left but mostly in the way of time. The rest just Gone. Not broken, or stolen, or violated – which might make it sound like there’s been no crime, I know. But I did have it and now it’s gone and nobody ever gets it back so don’t tell me that doesn’t make us victims. Don’t ask me how! Somehow! Victims of something. Look at us. All flesh and bone, with one face hanging onto your neck until you’re dead!
Poltergeist is a 1982 horror film which is set in a California suburb, about a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct the family’s youngest daughter.
Character: Clairvoyant Tangina speaks to the mother about her daughter’s relation to the unseen spirits that have pulled her into their sphere.
There is no death. There is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness. Carol Anne is not like those she’s with. She’s a living presence in their spiritual, earth-bound plane. They’re attracted to the one thing about her that’s different from themselves. Her life-force – it is very strong. It gives off its own illumination. It is a light that implies life and memory of love and home and earthly pleasures, something they desperately desire but can’t have anymore. Right now, she’s the closest thing to that, and that is a terrible distraction from the real light that has finally come for them. Do you understand me? These souls who for whatever reason are not at rest are also not aware that they have passed on. They’re not part of consciousness as we know it. They’re in a perpetual dream state, a nightmare from which they cannot wake. Inside this spectral light is salvation – a window to the next plane. They must pass through this membrane with friends who are waiting to guide them to new destinies. Carol Anne must help them cross over, and she will only hear her mother’s voice. Now, hold onto your selves. There’s one more thing – a terrible presence is in there with her. So much rage, so much betrayal. I’ve never sensed anything like it. I don’t know what hovers over this house, but it was strong enough to punch a hole into this world and take your daughter away from you. It keeps Carol Anne very close to it and away from the spectral light. It lies to her. It says things only a child can understand. He’s been using her to restrain the others. To her, it simply is another child. To us, it is the Beast. Now let’s go get your daughter.
Precious is a 2009 film adaptation of Geoffrey S. Fletcher’s 1996 novel Push by Sapphire. It is about a New York City Harlem overweight, abused, pregnant and illiterate teen who enrols in an alternative school to improve her life.
Character: Mary (Precious’ mother) talking to the social worker, Mrs Weiss)
Precious was a little girl … She was three, and I had been givin’ her the bottle. And I was givin’ Carl the tittie because my milk hadn’t dried up in my breasts. But not from her, but because Carl was – because Carl was suckin’ on that, and that’s what kept my milk in my breasts. And I thought that was for hygiene. I did what my momma told me that I was supposed to do with my child, so that’s what I did. And you’re sittin’ up there, and you’re tryin’ to judge me … But Ms. Weiss, I don’t like you lookin’ at me like that. You got this bitch lookin’ at me like I’m some kind of a f–kin’ monster … I didn’t want her suckin’ behind him, because that was nasty, and the things that he was … it was just nasty, Ms. Weiss. I-I, I had a man and I have a child. And I had to take care of both of them. Okay? Did I want Carl to touch my baby? Because I would lay my baby, I would lay her on the side of me on this pillow. And it was pink and it had this little white writin’ on it and it had her name, ’cause she was Precious. And I would lay my baby on that pillow. And Carl would be laying on the other side. And then we would, we would, uh, start doing it and he reached over and he touched my baby. And I asked him, I said, Carl what are you doin’? And he told me to shut, to shut my fat ass up and it was good for her…. I shut my fat ass up. And I don’t want you to sit there and judge me, Ms. Weiss … (hysterically) I did not want him to abuse my daughter. I did not want him to hurt her. I did not want him to do nothin’ to her. I wanted him to make love to me. That was my man. That was my f–kin’ man. That was my man and he wanted my daughter. And that’s why I hated her because it was my man who was supposed to be lovin’ me, who was supposed to be makin’ love to me, he was f–kin’ my baby. And she made him leave, she made him go away … It was Precious’ fault because she let my man have her and she didn’t say nothin’. She didn’t scream, she didn’t do nothin’. So those things that she told you I did to her, who, who, who else was gonna love me? Hmm? Since you got your degree and you know every f–kin’ thing, who was gonna love me? Who, who was gonna make me feel good? Who was gonna touch me and make me feel good like that? And she made him go away. So, when you sit there and you write them f–kin’ notes on your pad about who you think I am and why I did it and all of that … Because I’m in hell.
Presumed Innocent is a 1990 film adaptation of the best-selling novel by Scott Turow, starring Harrison Ford. It tells the story of a prosecutor charged with the murder of his female colleague and mistress.
Character: Barbara, the wife of Assistant DA Rusty Sabich confesses that she murdered Caroline because of her affair with him.
You understand what happened had to happen. It couldn’t have turned out any other way. A woman’s depressed – with herself, with life. With her husband, who had made life possible for her, until he was bewitched by another woman. A destroyer. Abandoned. Like someone left for dead. She plans her suicide, until the dream begins. In the dream, the destroyer is destroyed. That’s a dream worth living for. Now, with such simplicity, such clarity, everything falls into place. It must be a crime that her husband can declare unsolved and be believed by all the world. She must make it look like a rape, but she must leave her husband the clues. Once he discovers who it was, he’ll put the case into the file of unsolved murders. Another break-in by some sex-crazed man. But all his life, he’ll know that it was her. She remembers a set of glasses she bought for the woman some time before – a housewarming gift from her husband and his office. She buys another set. Her husband has a beer one night – doesn’t even comment on the glass. Now she has his fingerprints. Then on a few mornings, she saves the fluid that comes out when she removes her diaphragm. Puts it in a plastic bag. Puts the bag in the basement freezer, and waits. She calls the woman and asks to see her. Stops first at the U and logs into the computer. Now she has her alibi. She goes to the woman. The woman lets her in. When her head is turned, she removes the instrument from her bag and strikes. The destroyer is destroyed. She takes a cord out that she brought along, and ties her body in ways her husband described that perverts do. She feels power, control. A sense that she’s guided by a force beyond herself. She takes a syringe and injects the contents of the Ziploc bag. Leaves the glass on the bar. Unlocks the door and windows. And goes home. And life begins again. Until a trial, when she sees her husband suffer the way she never intended. She was prepared to tell the truth, right up to the very end. But magically, the charges were dismissed. The suffering was over. And they were saved!
Rusty sobbed the response: “Saved?!”
Primary Colors is a 1998 drama film, starring John Travolta, based on the novel Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, about Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign in 1992.
Character: Libby Holden, Jack and Susan’s old friend, addressing them both.
Libby: You’re right, Henry and me have already decided this dies here. I’m sorry sweetheart, but it does.and here’s why. You know what this is? Test results on Jack’s blood. Uncle’s Charlie’s blood taken over the years. And this is the blood test result that Jack gave me that proves he’s not the father of Loretta McCollister’s baby, and you know what Jack? It’s not your blood. Isn’t that a riot? The blood sample Dr. Beauregard took was not from you. It was from Uncle Charlie. You sent him to have his blood tested in your place because you know good old Dr. Beauregard loves you want to teach those Yankees a lesson. Well he’s not gonna love you enough to lose his license, Jack. Once he knows I have proof he’ll fold like a cheap accordion. I know that won’t prove you’re the father of Loretta’s baby, in fact I think you’re not, but it proves you thought you might be and that proves you fucked her and that will kill your chances. You see Jack, she hasn’t even heard. She’s isn’t even upset that you fucked your 17 year-old babysitter. And you know why, it’s never the cheat that goes to hell, it’s always the one who he cheated on. That’s why you can still talk in that tender hearted voice about being in it for the folks and Suzie here can only talk in that voice from hell about your political career. Now what kind of shit is that, Jack? Oh, excuse me, I forgot it’s the same old shit, it’s the shit no one ever calls you on, ever, because you’re so completely fucking special. Because everyone’s always so proud of you. Me, too. Me the worst. It just makes it a whole lot easier for me. I mean it’s totally depressing. What have I been doing this for my whole pathetic fucking life? So here’s the deal. If you move on Freddie Picker, who I think we all agree Is a flawed but a decent man, I move on you. Yes, I will destroy this village in order to save it.
Promedy is a 2010 play by Wade Bradford published by Eldridge Plays. It’s about students arranging the theme for their Prom when one student uses his persuasive abilities to cancel the event.
Character: The normally bookish Beatrix Holiday, the 17-year old president of the student body, explains to her fellow student why Prom means so much to her.
Type: School, Society, Motivational
That’s not true. Young women need the Prom. It’s a rite of passage as sacred as getting your driver’s license or buying your first bra. There are only a few things in life that are guaranteed to be glorious and memorable and sparkling with gowns and cummerbunds. Prom is the quintessential teenage experience. Think of the unlucky grown-ups and the elderly who lament the day they decided not to go to the Prom. It is a key ingredient to a happy and meaningful life. Prom is short for Promenade, a slow, gentle walk through a shady glen, and this beloved ceremony symbolizes our journey from the shadows of adolescence to the bright sunshine of the adult world with all its freedoms. And it may be the only chance I’ll ever have to dance with a boy. Maybe I’ll never have someone get down on their knee and Offer me a diamond ring. Maybe I’ll never walk down the aisle with a smug look of bridal triumph. But it is my right, and the right of every plain, frumpy, book-wormish, soon-to-be librarian to have one night of Cinderella magic. Even if we have to go with our cousin, or our gay best friend from tap class, we will have a Prom. And you will help me.
Rachel Getting Married is a 2008 drama film starring Anne Hathaway, Rosemarie DeWitt, Bill Irwin and Debra Winger. It’s about a young woman who has been in and out from rehab for the past 10 years and who returns home for the weekend for her sister’s wedding.
Character: Kym at support group.
Hi, I’m Kym. I’m an addict. I am nine months clean. (Pause) When I was sixteen, I was babysitting my little brother. And I was, um… I had taken all these Percocet. And I was unbelievably high and I… we had driven over to the park on Lakeshore. And he was in his red socks just running around in these piles of leaves. And, um, he would bury me and I would bury him in the leaves. And he was pretending that he was a train. And so he was charging through the leaves, making tracks, and I was the caboose, and I was, um… so he kept saying, coal, caboose! Coal, caboose! And, um, we were… it was time to go and I was driving home… and… I lost control of the car… and drove off the bridge. And the car went into the lake. And I couldn’t get him out of his car seat. And he drowned. And I struggle with God so much, because I can’t forgive myself. And I don’t really want to right now. I can live with it, but I can’t forgive myself. And sometimes I don’t want to believe in a God that could forgive me. But I do want to be sober. I’m alive and I’m present and there’s nothing controlling me. If I hurt someone, I hurt someone. I can apologize, and they can forgive me… or not. But I can change. And I just wanted to share that and say congratulations that God makes you look up, I’m so happy for you, but if he doesn’t, come here. That’s all. Thank you.
Rebecca is a 1938 novel by English author Daphne du Maurier. The book has been adapted for film, TV and stage.
Character: Mrs de Winter – the book opens with this monologue.
Last night, I dreamed I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden, the supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again, and little by little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on and on while the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley. Manderley, secretive and silent. Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it. I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of a past about its staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again. That much is certain. But sometimes, in my dreams, I do go back to the strange days of my life which began for me in the south of France…
Requiem for a Dream is a 2000 film directed by Darren Aronofsky based on the novel of the same name by Hubert Selby, Jr., with whom Aronofsky wrote the screenplay. It’s about three seasons in the lives of Sara, her son, Harry, and his girlfriend (Marion) and friend (Tyrone). It depicts their addictions, delusions and desperations.
Character: Sara to her son, Harry.
Well of course he gives me pills, Harry, he’s a doctor. I lost 25 pounds already. How come you know so much huh? How come you know more than a doctor? Oh come on, I almost fit in my red dress. The one I wore to your high school graduation? The one your father liked so much. Oh I remember how he looked at me in that red dress. I’m gonna wear it on…. Oh, you don’t know! I’m gonna be on television. I got a call and an application. No no no, I’m tellin’ ya I’m gonna be contestant on television. I don’t know when yet, they didn’t tell me. But you’ll see. It’s a big deal. I’m somebody now, Harry. Everybody likes me. Soon, millions of people will see me and they’ll all like me. I’ll tell them about you, and your father, how good he was to us, remember? It’s a reason to get up in the morning. It’s a reason to lose weight, to fit in the red dress. It’s a reason to smile. It makes tomorrow alright. What have I got, Harry? Why should I even make the bed or wash the dishes? I do them. But why should I? I’m alone. Your father’s gone, you’re gone. I got no one to care for. What have I got, Harry? I’m lonely, I’m old. I got friends but it’s not the same. They don’t need me. I like the way I feel. I like thinking about the red dress and the television, and you, and your
father. Now when I get the sun, I smile.
Revolutionary Road is a 2008 film based on the 1961 novel by Richard Yates. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and is about a young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s who struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children.
Character: April Wheeler to her husband.
Frank, we need to talk. There’s going to be another baby. No, Frank. Look around you; this is what’s unrealistic. It’s unrealistic for a man with a fine mind to go on working year after year at a job he can’t stand. Coming home to a place he can’t stand, to a wife who’s equally unable to stand the same things. And you want to know the worst part? Our whole existence here is based on the premise that we’re special and superior to the whole thing, but we’re not. We’re just like everyone else! We all bought into the delusion that we have to resign from life and settle down the moment we have children. And we’ve been punishing each other for it. Don’t you see, Frank? I just want IN, is that so hard to understand? I just want us to live again. For years I though we shared a secret, that we would be wonderful in this world. I didn’t know exactly how, but just the possibility kept me hoping. How pathetic is that? To put all your hopes in a promise that was never made. How long must this go on for? Do you really want another child? Well, do you? Tell me, tell me the truth Frank. Remember that? We used to live by it. You know what’s so good about the truth, Frank? It is that everyone knows what it is, no matter how long they have lived without it. Nobody forgets the truth; they just simply get better at lying. And just because you think you’ve got me in this safe little trap, that you can bully me into feeling whatever it is you want me to feel. I have a little truth for you now, Frank. I feel nothing.
Secrets and Lies is a 1996 British movie, written and directed by Mike Leigh, about a troubled lower-class white family whose mother is approached by her adopted black daughter and everyone’s secrets are exposed.
Character: Cynthia to the daughter she gave away for adoption – Hortense.
Type: Comic Dramatic
I hope you find your mum, sweetheart. You keep looking. They shouldn’t go raising your hopes like that. It ain’t fair. (Looking at a piece of paper with her signature on it.) This is stupid. I don’t understand it. I mean, I can’t be your mother, can I? I mean, look at me. Listen, I don’t mean nothing by it darling, but I ain’t never been with a black man in my life. No disrespect or nuthing. I’d have remembered, wouldn’t I? (Long pause, then she starts as she remembers something.) Oh, bloody hell. Oh Jesus Christ Almighty. (Turns her back on her and starts crying in shock for a while, speaking between sobs.) I’m sorry, sweetheart. I’m so ashamed. I can’t look at you. (Turns back to face her.) I didn’t know, sweetheart, honest, I didn’t know. I didn’t know you was black. I thought they got the dates all wrong. All this time I thought you was born six weeks premature, but you wasn’t. You wasn’t. (Tearful.) You don’t wanna know who the father was. Listen, I want to be honest with you, but I can’t tell you that, sweetheart. I’m sorry. Look at you. I expect I’m a disappointment to you, hey love. You’d be better off without me. I can tell you that much. I’ve done you a good turn. What’s your mum like then? Does she mind you looking for me? Oh, died – sorry. What about your dad? Dead, too. No, I’m not married. You’re not? Bet you got a boyfriend, ain’t you, nice looking girl like you? I give boyfriends a wide berth. They got me into enough trouble in the past, ain’t they? (Laughing turns into a spot of crying again.) You got a job, ain’t you? That’s good. Eh? Optician, are you? Well, there’s a turn-up. I work in a factory. Pays the rent. My daughter works for the council. I bet your mum was proud of you, wasn’t she? Yeah, of course she was. I’d have been proud. I’m sorry, dear, that I didn’t want to see you, but nobody knows about you, sweetheart. I don’t want to upset my daughter, do I? I didn’t know you was black. They wanted me to look at you, but I was too upset. They wanted me to hold you, but I couldn’t … I couldn’t. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. I was only a little girl meself. Sixteen. I didn’t have no choice. If I had seen you, I would’ve wanted to keep you. You do believe me, don’t you sweetheart?
See No Evil: The Moors Murders is a 2006 film made for television about the notorious British Manchester Moors murders, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, as seen through the eyes of Myra’s sister, whose husband was the one who reported them to the police. This monologue has been adapted from the film and from actual recorded statements/writings of Myra Hindley.
Character: Myra to her sister Maureen visiting her in jail.
(Earnest) Mobi, you don’t know how I have longed for this moment. I’m so glad you’ve come to see me. You’ve been through hell because of me. (Pause) So how are you? (Pause) Well, I’ve done my best to fit in here. Made some very good friends, even with the warders. One even does my hair (smile). I’ve been studying (pause) I’m getting my degree in Humanities soon. (Earnest) I’ve changed a lot. I’m not the same person I was all those years ago. (Bitter) You know Brady’s written some awful letters about me, saying that I’m manipulative and obsessive-compulsive. He’s the really evil one and he knows it. That’s why he’s never applied for parole. He’s just saying horrible things now because he doesn’t want me to be free while he rots in prison. But I’ve come clean about the murders now. I’ve even helped the police look for the bodies of those kids, but the Moors are so vast, it’s difficult to remember where we buried them all. I know it was an unsavoury business. But that tape – I wrote and told Lesley’s mother that we didn’t physically torture her no matter what it sounded like. (pause) Besides, a ten year old shouldn’t have been out so late – why does no-one bring that up? And that mug-shot of me they keep using and calling me the most evil woman in Britain. I’m a bit like Christ on the cross – being crucified all over again by the tabloids. I’ve admitted my guilt and I’ve served my sentence. I wasn’t the arch-villain. But I’ve accepted that I was wicked and behaved monstrously.
(Pause) Of course I have nightmares – (matter-of-factl – I’ve become Catholic again. Brady had convinced me there was no God. I only waited a long time to confess because of him. Don’t you believe me? (Coldly) Oh, you don’t understand, Mobi. Anyone who has not killed cannot understand killing. You know me, I’m not evil. I was born an innocent baby, just like every other baby is. (Beginning to cry) Judge me as I am now, Mobi, not as I was then. Please – there has to be forgiveness surely – for all of us. There has to be redemption. Everyone makes mistakes. (Desperate) They have to grant me parole. I’ve worked for it. I’m not a threat to society anymore. Mobi, will you be there at the hearing? I need your support. (Matter-of-fact) I want to make a good impression. Could you bring me a bottle of make-up? It’s Ponds Angel Face; Shade Golden Rose. Tawny will do, but any other colour looks terrible with my complexion. (Smilingly) Bring the kids with you on your next visit. I’m so looking forward to seeing them.
Serendipity is a 2001 romantic comedy film, starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale, about a couple who reunite years after the night they first met.
Character: Sara (taken from two different scenes in the movie)
I’ve always believed in fate. I’ve always believed that life is more than a series of meaningless accidents or coincidences. But rather, a tapestry of events that culminate into an exquisite plan. I mean, I just spent the entire flight staring into the sky thinking. Not about my fiancé, but about this mystery guy I met a million and a half hours ago. A guy I don’t even remember except for this vague picture inside my head. It’s just a few seconds, a fragment really, and it’s like, in that moment the whole universe existed just to bring us together. We spent only a few precious hours together and I never even gave him my last name or my phone number. Instead, I told him that if we were meant to be together, if fate meant for us to be together, we’d meet again someday. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I’m going to let fate take me anywhere it wants to go, because when all of this is over, at least I’ll never have to think of him ever again. Let’s just pray he’s a bald Fascist who picks his nose and wipes it under the car seat.
Shirley Valentine is a 1989 film based on the 1986 one-character play by Willy Russell. It’s about a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who wonders what happened to her life, and who eventually embarks on a holiday in Greece.
Character: Shirley (talking to the wall)
Wait till he finds he’s getting’ chips an’ egg for his tea tonight. Well it’s Thursday isn’t it? And on Thursday it has to be mince. It’s the eleventh commandment isn’t it? Moses declared it. ‘Thou shalt give thy feller mince every Thursday and if thou doesn’t, thy feller will have one big gob on him all night long.’ What will he be like wall? What will he be like when he sees it’s only ships an’ egg? An’ I wouldn’t mind, it’s not even my bloody fault about the mince. Well I gave it the dog y’ see. This dog at the place I work. Well it’s a bloodhound y’ see. But this couple I work for – they are vegans, y’ know the vegetarian lunatic fringe – ‘The Marmite Tendency’ I call them. Well they’ve brought up this bloodhound as a vegetarian. Well it’s not natural is it? I mean if god had wanted to create it as a vegetarian dog he wouldn’t have created it as a bloodhound would he? He would have made it as a grapejuice hound. But his dog is a bloodhound. It needs meat. Well it was just on impulse really. I’m there today, an’ I looked at this dog an’ all’s I can think about was the pound an’ a half of best mince that’s in me bag. Well d’ y’ know, I think it was worth what I’ll have to put up with from ‘him’ tonight; just to see the look on that dog’s face as it tasted meat for the first time. Course I don’t think Joe’ll quite see it that way. ‘Y’ did what? What did y’ do? Y’ gave it to the dog? You’ve gone bloody mental woman. Is this it? Have y’ finally gone right round the pipe?’ (She adopts a rather grand gesture and voice.) ‘Yes Joseph I rather thin I have. I have finally gone loop the fracking loop. I have become crazy with joy, because today Jane gave me the opportunity of getting away for a fortnight. Joe! I am to travel to Greece with my companion. Our departure is less than three weeks hence and we shall be vacationing for some fourteen days. And now I must away, leaving you to savour your chips an’ chuckie egg whilst I supervise the packing of my trunk.’ Our Brian was round before. I showed him the tickets. Didn’t I wall? An’ what did he say? ‘Mother, just go. Forget about me Father, forget about everythin’, just get yourself on the plane an’ go.’ (Laughs.) Well that’s how he is, our Brian; you wanna do somethin’? You just do it. Bugger the consequences.
Showboat is a 1927 musical by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II about a family theatre group abroad a travelling boat on the Mississippi river and a gambler who joins them. It is based on a book by Edna Ferber.
Character: Julie LeVerne addressing Ravenal (the gambler).
This monologue is adapted from the dialogue between Julie LeVerne and Ravenal.
(Julie is standing next to a piano. She speaks to the piano player.) Hey Lucky, you know this one? (Hums part of the tune.) Yes, that’s it …Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. I gotta love one man ‘til I die. Can’t help … (Ted smacks her) Oh leave me alone, Ted! (Ravenal comes to her rescue) Thanks Mister. You didn’t have to do that. I don’t know why … I don’t know why it should matter to you. (Ravenal walks off and Julie turns to Lucky) Hey Lucky, who is that fellow? A gambler, huh? His name ain’t Ravenal is it? So that’s the no-account. See you later, Lucky. (Follows Ravenal) Hey Mister, wait up. Nice place, Natchez. You getting off here? No? New Orleans? Thought maybe Natchez, seeing as there’s a show boat tied up there. Still New Orleans, huh? Well, maybe I thought ’cause you look like an actor. Oh, you were, huh? But you’re still going to New Orleans? Sorry? You’re sorry? Is that all you’re sorry for, Mister? Maybe you’re sorry ’cause you’re some kind of rat! (She grabs his arm) Oh no, please Mister, don’t go. I was talking about myself maybe. Lots of rats come off showboats. On the stage, under the stage, sneaking off, kicked off … kicked off. Taking things with them. Taking nothing. Hey Mister, I was on a show boat once. Had a friend there. She was so pretty and sweet. So open, trusting and sweet. And you know something Mister, some big soft talking card player came along and took her off the Cotton Blossom where she belonged and then left her broke and alone in Chicago when she was going to have a baby and there was nobody around to help her. You want to see what you left, Mister. I’ve kept track of Nolie since the baby was born. Look at what you left behind, Mister. Look! Pretend for one second you’re not some rat who leaves … wait, you didn’t know? But I thought … I thought … I gotta go now. I hope I did right. I know there’s always two sides to everything. Hey Mister, if you ever do get to see Nolie, not get back together I mean, but if you do ever get to talk to her, don’t ever tell her you saw me … don’t ever tell her you saw me like this.
Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You is a 1979 play by Christopher Durang which was adapted into film in 2001. It’s about a nun, Sister Mary Ignatius, explaining to the audience the basic tenets of Catholicism.
Character: Sr Ignatius
I’ll take the next one. Are you ever sorry you became a nun? No, I’m not sorry I became a nun. What exactly went on in Sodom? “Who asked me this question?” I am an Aries. Is it a mortal sin to follow your horoscope? It is a sin to follow your horoscope ‘cos only God knows the future and he won’t tell us. Also, we can tell that horoscopes are false because according to astrology Christ would be a Capricorn and Capricorn people are cold and ambitious creatures and are attracted to Scorpios and Virgos and we know that Christ was warm and ever loving and not attracted to anybody. I’m going to talk about Sodom a bit. (Softer) To answer your question, sodomy is where they commit acts of homosexuality and bestiality in the Old Testament and God, infuriated by this, destroyed them all in one fell swoop. Modern day Sodoms are New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Amsterdam…well, basically where the population is over fifty thousand. Now the only reason that God has not destroyed these modern day Sodoms is because of the Catholic nuns and priests that live in these cities and God, kind and loving as he is, does not wish to destroy them. He does, however, give these people body lice and hepatitis. It’s so hard to know why God allows wickedness to flourish. I guess it’s because God wants man to choose goodness freely of his own free will. Sometimes, one wonders if free will is worth all the trouble if there’s going to be so much evil and unhappiness in the world. But God knows best, presumably. If it were up to me I might be tempted to wipe out cities and civilisations, but luckily for New York and Amsterdam I’m not God.
Smallholding is an award-winning 1989 play by Paul Slabolepszy which is a scathing condemnation of petty bourgeois aspirations among marginalised Whites who live on a small-holding. It was first performed at the Standard Bank Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown in 1989.
Characters: Pa – a Boere-Rambo, prone to drink; Evie, his daughter, brittle personality who doesn’t fit in; JJ, unintelligent, poorly educated son; Gideon, a black farmhand; and Christiaan, a young God-fearing, compassionate Afrikaner.
Character: Evie to Pa (Act One – Scene Three)
Type: Judgemental, Frustration
My mother’s dad, for God’s sake! (takes the storm-lantern containing her mother’s ashes) You want my mother – here she is! You want your wife? You want her…? It’s a chunk of glass with some dust in the bottom. That’s all it is. You see that? It doesn’t talk to you and you can’t talk to it. It’s not a person. It’s nothing living. It’s what is called an inanimate object. I’m sick to death of your drunk-stupid stories, your crackpot ideas! Your never-ending bladdy Klipdrif dreams! You call yourselves farmers. You’re not farmers. The only thing you ever did properly in your life was crash cars at Tarlton Race Track. (She contemptuously tosses the lantern towards him) Here! Here’s a bladdy trophy for you. I’m leaving. I’m saying goodbye to this place. It’s not so difficult. I’ve been over it thousands of times in my mind. I’ll get up tomorrow morning, as usual. Go down to the farm stall and open up. But, instead of trying to sell something to the first person that stops, I’ll ask for a lift. Doesn’t matter where they’re going. But, one thing I do know. Once I’m gone, I’m never coming back. It’s the noise, you know. The noise that goes on and on and never seems to stop. Even at night. Even when I’m down by the road and on my own. Their voices. Their machines. All I want is a place without noise.
Some Like It Hot is a 1959 comedic film which starred Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and George Raft. It’s about two musicians who flee the mob after witnessing a mob hit and join an all female band dressed as women.
Character: Sugar Kane talking to Josephine/Joe.
Yeah, you better keep a look out. I’m not very bright I guess. No, just dumb, if I had any brains I wouldn’t be on this crummy train with this crummy girls band. I used to sing with male bands but I can’t afford it anymore, have you ever been with a male band? That’s what I’m running away from. I’ve been with six different ones in the last two years — oh brother! I can’t trust myself. I have this thing about saxophone players …especially tenor sax. I don’t what it is but they just curdle me, all they have to do is play eight bars of “Come To Me, My Melancholy Baby” and my spine turns to custard, I get goose pimply all over and I come to them. Every time. That’s why I joined this band: Safety first. Anything to get away from those bums. You don’t know what they’re like! You fall for ‘em. You really love ‘em, you think “This is going to be the biggest thing since the Graf Zeppelin.” The next thing you know, they’re borrowing money from you, they’re spending it on other dames, and betting on horses. Then one morning, you wake up — the guy’s gone, the saxophone’s gone. All that’s left behind is a pair of old socks and a tube of toothpaste all squeezed out. So you pull yourself together, you go on to the next job, the next saxophone player…it’s the same thing all over again! See what I mean not very bright…I can tell you one thing, it’s not going to happen to me again. Ever. I’m tired of getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop!
Sophie’s Choice is a 1982 film based on the 1979 novel by William Styron. It’s about a Polish immigrant, Sophie, and her tempestuous lover who share a boarding house with a young writer in Brooklyn. The film starred Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Peter MacNicol.
Character: Sophie talking to Stingo (the writer)
Type: Pathos, Tragic
The truth? I don’t even know what is the truth. After all these lies I’ve told…
My father… how can I explain how much I loved my father? My father believed that human perfection was a possibility. Every night I pray to God…to forgive me for always making a disappointment to my father. I was a grown woman…when I realised I hated my father beyond all words to tell it. It was winter of 1938 and my father was working for weeks on the speech he calls…”Poland Jewish Problem”. Ordinarily I type his speeches…and I don’t hear the words, their meaning, but…this time I came upon a word that I have never hear before. The solution for Poland Jewish Problem, he concludes…is “vernichtung”. Extermination. I have not meant to go to the ghetto that afternoon…but something made me go there. I stood there. I don’t know how long…watching these people that my father has condemned to die. All these men, these women, these children would be “vernichtung”. Extermination. I suddenly remembered that my father is waiting for that speech…and I hurry home to finish the typing but…in my rushing and in my haste to finish that…I make so many mistakes in the sentences and…I run with it to University and my father has no time…to check it before speaking. And he get up in front of all those people…and he read the speech and makes those mistakes…and I see him getting so angry. And when it was over, he came up to me…and in front of all his colleagues he said: Zozia…your intelligence is pulp. Pulp. I did not have any courage to say: “Yes, but what about the Jews?” The Jewish people, but…After that he didn’t trust me anyway.
Shortly after that I was arrested and they sent me to Auschwitz with my children. When the train arrived in Auschwitz we were marched past block Three where they kept the prisoners who were waiting to be exterminated. These people stood there for days naked – no food – no water – and their arms and their hands reached out from the bars and they cried and they pleaded. (Pause.) The Germans forced me to make a decision about my children – who would live and who would die. No mother can make such decision. My little boy, Ian, my little boy, Ian, who went to the Kinderlogg Camp and my little girl, Eva, she went to the crematorium. She was exterminated. (Pause.) Thanks to my perfect secretarial skills, my perfect German and everything that my father taught me, I came to work for commander of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess. I beg him to find a way to release my little boy. That night I kept saying to myself I have … I have saved my son. Tomorrow I will get to see him and I will say goodbye, but he will have been saved. Ah, I had such happiness – and hope – but Rudolf Hoess did not keep his promise. I never knew what happened to my little boy. And now you know why I don’t want to live with the truth no more. Don’t ask me, Stingo. You should have another…mother…for your children. It would not be fair to your children to have me as their mother.
Steel Magnolias is a 1989 film starring Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah, and Julia Roberts, about a group of women in Louisiana. It is based on Robert Harling’s 1987 novel which dealt with the death of his sister.
Character: M’Lynn after the funeral of her daughter, to her friends.
No. I couldn’t leave my Shelby. I just sat there and kept pushin’ the way I always have where Shelby was concerned…. I was hopin’ she’d sit up and argue with me. Finally we realized there was no hope. They turned off the machines. (Pause) Drum left.. couldn’t take it. Jackson left. (Slight laugh) I find it amusin’.. men are supposed to be made outta steel or somethin. I just sat there. I just held Shelby’s hand. Oh God… I realize as a woman how lucky I am! I was there when that beautiful creature drifted into my life.. and I was there when she drifted out of it. It was the most precious moment of my life… (Sighs) I gotta get back. Has anyone got a mirror? (Looking in mirror, upset) Shelby was right! This IS a brown foot ball helmet!!!! (Begins to cry) I’m fine.. I’m fine.. I’m fine.. I’m FINE! (sobbing/screaming) I could jog all the way to Texas and back.. but my daughter can’t!! She never could!! Oh.. God…..I’m so mad I don’t know what to do!! I wanna know why! I wanna know WHY Shelby’s life is over!! I wanna HOW that baby will EVER know how wonderful his mother was.. Will he EVER know what she went THROUGH for him? Oh God I wanna know WHY? WHY? Lord…I wish I could understand! No…NO…NO!! It’s not supposed to happen this way! I’m supposed to go first!! I’ve always been ready to go first! I don’t think I can take this.. I.. I don’t think I can take this! I just wanna hit somethin’! I just wanna hit somebody.. till they feel as bad as I do!! I just wanna hit something! I wanna hit it HARD!
The Accused is a 1988 film starring Jodie Foster and Kelly McGillis. It’s about a woman who suffers a brutal rape in a bar one night and the female prosecutor who helps bring the perpetrators to justice, including the ones who encouraged and cheered on the attack.
Character: Prosecuting Deputy D.A. Kathryn Murphy presenting a forceful court argument.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Paulsen has told you that the testimony of Sarah Tobias is nothing. Sarah Tobias was raped, but that is nothing. She was cut and bruised and terrorized but that is nothing. All of it happened in front of a howling crowd and that is nothing. Well, it may be nothing to Mr. Paulsen, but it is not nothing to Sarah Tobias and I don’t believe it is nothing to you. Next, Mr. Paulsen tried to convince you that Kenneth Joyce was the only one in that room who knew that Sarah Tobias was being raped – the only one! Now you watched Kenneth Joyce, how did he strike you? Did he seem especially sensitive, especially observant? Did he seem so remarkable that you said to yourselves, ‘Of course! This man would notice things other people wouldn’t.’ Do you believe that Kenneth Joyce saw something in that room that those three men didn’t see? In all the time that Sarah was pinned down on that Pinball machine that other people didn’t know? Kenneth Joyce confessed to you that he watched a rape and did nothing. He told you that everyone in that bar behaved badly – and he was right. But no matter how immoral it may be, it is not the crime of criminal solicitation to walk away from a rape. It is not the crime of criminal solicitation to silently watch a rape. But it is the crime of criminal solicitation to induce or entreat or encourage or persuade another person to commit a rape. ‘Hold her down! Stick it to her! Make her moan!’ These three men did worse than nothing. They cheered, and they clapped, and they rooted the others on. They made sure that Sarah Tobias was raped, and raped, and raped. Now you tell me, is that nothing?
Character: Sarah to Kathryn
You double-crossing bitch, you sold me out! Did you see this? Huh? Did you do this? Is this what you did? Yeah, I wouldn’t make a good witness, right? I’m too fragile, my past is too questionable; I’m a drunk, I’m a party-head, I’m a drug addict, I’m some slut who got bounced around a bit in some bar, right? So I didn’t get raped, huh? I never got raped. How come it doesn’t say that in the newspaper? How come it doesn’t say: “Sarah Tobias was raped”? No, rather the headline reads ‘reckless endangerment’! What the fuck is reckless endangerment? (Pause) I don’t care if it has the same prison term, who the hell are you to decide that I ain’t good enough to stand as a witness? Huh? I bet you, if I went to law school, and I didn’t live in some God damn dump, then I would be good enough! (Pause) Understand how I feel? Fuck you; you don’t understand how I feel. I’m standing there with my pants down and my crotch hung out for the world to see and three guys are sticking it to me, and a bunch of other guys are yelling and clapping and you’re standing there telling me that ‘that’s the best you can do’? Well, if that’s the best you can do, then your best sucks. Now I don’t know what you got for selling me out, but I sure as shit hope it’s worth it! You know, some guy came up to me and you know what he said? He said: “Do you want to play pinball?” Like what happened is some sort of joke. He figures I’m a piece of shit. Everybody … everybody, they just figure I am some piece of shit. And why not? You told them that. I – me – I never got to tell nobody. No. You did all my talking for me. I – I don’t get it. I thought you were on my side? You told me you were on my side? Why’d you do that?
The Cherry Orchard is the last play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, written in 1904. A film adaptation was made in 1999. It’s about Madame Ranevskaya who is an aging aristocrat returning to face the loss of her Cherry Orchard after a default on the mortgage.
Character: Madame Ranevskaya to Peter, a young student
Why doesn’t Leoníd come? Oh, if only I knew whether the property’s sold or not! It seems such an impossible disaster, that I don’t know what to think. . . . I’m bewildered . . . I shall burst out screaming, I shall do something idiotic. Save me, Peter; say something to me, say something. You can see what’s truth and untruth, but I seem to have lost the power of vision; I see nothing. You settle every important question so boldly; but tell me, Peter, isn’t that because you’re young, because you have never solved any question of your own as yet by suffering? You look boldly ahead; isn’t it only that you don’t see or divine anything terrible in the future; because life is still hidden from your young eyes? You are bolder, honester, deeper than we are, but reflect, show me just a finger’s breadth of consideration, take pity on me. Don’t you see? I was born here, my father and mother lived here, and my grandfather; I loved this house; without the cherry orchard my life has no meaning for me, and if it must be sold, then for heaven’s sake sell me too! My little boy was drowned here. Be gentle with me, dear, kind Peter. I am so wretched today, you can’t imagine! All this noise jars on me, my heart jumps at every sound. I tremble all over; but I can’t shut myself up; I am afraid of the silence when I’m alone. Don’t be hard on me, Peter; I love you like a son. I would gladly let Anya marry you, I swear it; but you must work, Peter; you must get your degree. You do nothing; Fate tosses you about from place to place; and that’s not right. It’s true what I say, isn’t it? And you must do something to your beard to make it grow better. I can’t help laughing at you. It’s a telegram from Paris. I get them every day. One came yesterday, another today. That savage is ill again; he’s in a bad way. . . . He asks me to forgive him, he begs me to come; and I really ought to go to Paris and be with him. You look at me sternly; but what am I to do, Peter? What am I to do? He’s ill, he’s lonely, he’s unhappy. Who is to look after him? Who is to keep him from doing stupid things? Who is to give him his medicine when it’s time? After all, why should I be ashamed to say it? I love him, that’s plain. I love him, I love him. . . . My love is like a stone tied round my neck; it’s dragging me down to the bottom; but I love my stone. I can’t live without it. Don’t think ill of me, Peter; don’t say anything! Don’t say anything!
The Color Purple is a 1985 Spielberg film based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It’s about a young African American girl named Celie Harris and shows the problems African American women faced during the early 1900s, including poverty, racism, and sexism.
Character: Sofia confronting Selie.
You told Harpo to beat me! All my life I had to fight. I had to fight my daddy. I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. Girl child ain’t safe in a family of mens. But I ain’t never thought I had to fight in my own house! I loves Harpo. God knows I do. But I’ll kill him dead ‘fore I let him beat me…Now you want a dead son-in-law, Miss Celie? You keep on advisin’ him like you’re doin’…Girl, you oughta bash Mister’s head open and think about heaven later!
Character: Shug to Celie
Come on, Missy. I don’t want to have to come in there after you now. Lord, have mercy! Firemen ain’t gonna get it, somebody call the law! You could light a fire without a match. You can catch a fish without a hook. You can make a blind man see. Now do your shimmy. Shake your shimmy, girl! Come on! Yeah! Show me your stuff! Come on, Celie! Oh, Miss Celie, why you always covering up your smile? Show me some teeth. Oh, Miss Celie, why you always covering up your smile? Show me that pretty smile. Oh, girl, you need …a smiling lesson. Come on. (Shug sings) ‘Made him stout . . . Wasn’t satisfied til they made him a snout. Made him a snout just as long as a rail. Wasn’t satisfied til they made him a tail. Made him a tail, just. . .’ You see, Miss Celie, you gots a beautiful smile. Well, Miss Celie, I do believe it’s time for me to go. September. Yeah, September be a good time to go off in the world. What’s the matter, Miss Celie? I know he a bully. But there’s some things I love about him. I go what you call a passion for him. If I was ever going to have a husband, he’d been it. But he weak. Tell me the truth, Celie. Do you mind if Albert sleep with me? I have to confess, I love it. Don’t you? Do his business? Why, Miss Celie, you sound like he going to the toilet on you. I don’t think youse ugly. I love you. Amen. Oh, Miss Celie. That was just the salt in sugar. Me being jealous of you and Albert. I think you beautiful.
The Curse of the Cat People is a 1944 film about a young girl called Amy who has trouble differentiating between fantasy and reality.
Character: Mrs Julia Farren (an aging reclusive actress) to Amy.
I’ll tell you a story. A lovely story … Do you know the story of the Headless Horseman? … You live right here in Tarrytown and you don’t know the legend of Sleepy Hollow? Then you must hear it. I shall tell it to you. There, now, you sit there. Now, we’ll pretend this is the stage. The Headless Horseman… It was shot off long ago in the great battles that were fought here. With the British on one side and the Americans on the other…. On the dark nights, on the stormy nights, you can hear him. He passes like the wind, and the flapping and fluttering of his great cloak, beating like gaunt wings. And the thunder of his horses’ hooves is loud, and loud, and louder! At the midnight hour, down the road that leads to Sleepy Hollow, across the bridge, he goes galloping, galloping, galloping. Always searching, always seeking. And if you stand on the bridge at the wrong hour, the hour when he rides by, his great cloak sweeps around you! He swings you to his saddlebow. And then forever you must ride. And always his cold arms around you, clasping you into the cavity of his bony chest. And then, forever, you must ride, and ride, and ride – with the Headless Horseman.
The Glass Menagerie (1944) by Tennessee Williams. Premiered in Chicago in 1944 and two film versions were made in 1950 and 1987. Original name was “The Gentleman Caller”. It’s about a mother, son and daughter who live together in a rather isolated atmosphere when a gentleman caller comes to visit.
Character: Amanda to her daughter, Laura
Possess your soul in patience? You will see! Something I’ve resurrected from that old trunk! Styles haven’t changed so terribly much after all. Now just look at your mother! This is the dress in which I led the cotillion, won the cakewalk twice at Sunset Hill, wore one spring to the Governor’s ball in Jackson! See how I sashayed around the ballroom, Laura? (She raises her skirt and does a mincing step around the room.) I wore it on Sundays for my gentlemen callers! I had it on the day I met your father I had malaria fever all that spring. The change of climate from East Tennessee to the Delta – weakened resistance I had a little temperature all the time – not enough to be serious – just enough to make me restless and giddy I Invitations poured in – parties all over the Delta! – ‘Stay in bed,’ said mother, ‘you have fever!’ – but I just wouldn’t. – I took quinine but kept on going, going! Evenings, dances! – Afternoons, long, long rides! Picnics. – lovely! – So lovely, that country in May. – All lacy with dogwood, literally flooded with jonquils! – That was the spring I had the craze for jonquils. Jonquils became an absolute obsession. Mother said, ‘Honey, there’s no more room for jonquils.’ And still I kept on bringing in more jonquils. Whenever, wherever I saw them, I’d say, “Stop! Stop! I see jonquils! I made the young men help me gather the jonquils! It was a joke, Amanda and her jonquils! Finally there were no more vases to hold them, every available space was filled with jonquils. No vases to hold them? All right, I’ll hold them myself – And then I – met your father! Malaria fever and jonquils and then – this – boy…. I hope they get here before it starts to rain. I gave your brother a little extra change so he and Mr O’Connor could take the service car home.
Character: Laura pleading with her mother to be excused from dinner.
Mom, I can’t do anything – no, Mom, please! I have to say this. I can’t go outside these walls. There’s just too much pain! I can feel everyone staring at me – staring at this. (She points to the braced leg.) The noise it makes, it’s just so loud! That’s why I dropped out of high school! I felt everyone’s eyes staring at me, heard all the giggles they tried to suppress as I clomped and limped down the hall. Especially when I would enter the choir room! Jim would never want to be around me again. Sure, we talked sometimes, but he wouldn’t want to be around me anymore than those few occasions–not around the limping girl who makes such a racket! Nobody would want to be near me. So I tuned out from the rest of the world before it could cause me any more pain than I have already suffered. And it seems that whatever crippled my leg – yes, Mom, you might as well admit that I’m crippled! It has crippled the rest of my being throughout time. It seems I just got worse and worse at school. And then at business college, in that confined typing room, that quick clacking of keyboards surrounded me as I stumbled and fat-fingered all the letters. It felt as if the professor was breathing down my neck, silently mocking me as I continued to fail. Until finally, all that pressure poured out of me – and into a toilet. Mom, secluded from the world in this home listening to phonograph records and dusting my glass collection – this is where I belong! I fail everywhere else in the outside world. Here, there’s nothing to fail at! I’ll never succeed at finding a husband or a job, so I might as well give up trying now and just be content in my bubble with at least having no additional failure for the rest of my life! I can’t see Jim! (Tears are welling in her eyes.) It would only result in the ultimate failure –rejection from the only person I have ever loved! Mom, I can’t! Just have dinner without me. Please, Mom.
Character: Laura to visitor Jim.
What do I do? I don’t do anything – much. Oh please don’t think I sit around doing nothing! My glass collection takes up a good deal of time. Glass is something you have to take good care of, and I do take good care of my glass collection. What kind of glass? Little articles of it, they’re ornaments mostly. Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie. Here’s an example of one, if you’d like to see it. This is one of the oldest, it’s nearly thirteen. Oh, be careful – if you breathe, it breaks. Go on, I trust you with him. Oh alright, I’ll put it on the table. There now, He loves being in the light. I shouldn’t be partial, but he is my favourite one. Haven’t you noticed the single horn on his forehead? Lonesome? Well if he does he doesn’t complain about it. He stays on a shelf with some horses who don’t have horns and all of them seem to get along nicely together. At least, I haven’t heard any arguments among them. (Unicorn falls) Oh my! It’s fallen off the table. It’s lost its horn. Now it’s just like all the other horses.
The Hungry Earth is a 1979 play by Maishe Maponya which was first performed with a cast of five at the Donaldson Orlando Cultural Club in Soweto in 1979. It’s about the ill-fated lives of black South Africans.
Character: A Woman. The scene is everyday activity in a compound. (Act One – Scene Six)
My name is Chirango. This is my only home. I came here some five years after my husband had written to me to come and join him in this city of gold. To my dismay, I was not permitted to stay with him. I could not go back to Rhodesia because I had no money. He took me into his room at night. Later when a wall was erected around the compound it became risky to sneak in. Once I was arrested and fined R90,00 or 90 days. He did not have the money and I went to jail. When I came back I was told that his contract had expired and since then I have never seen or heard of him. Today I manage to live and feed my two fatherless children out of the beers and indambola [liquor] I sell. And when the beers don’t sell I become every man’s woman. What else can I do? I can’t get permits to work here. I’ll never get to Malawi. I’ll never get to Transkei. I’ll never get to Bophuthatswana. (Turns to someone who has entered.) Yes, my husband’s name is Chirango. Where is my husband? (She becomes hysterical and crying). Oh, how cruel this earth is. Our men will never stop dying to feed this hungry earth. Today I have no place to stay. Today I am a widow. Today my children are fatherless. Yet I do not know. How many more have vanished like that without the knowledge of immediate relatives? My husband has died digging endlessly for gold which would help to prop up the Apartheid system. My man is dead! My man is eaten by the hungry earth! He is dead!
The Others is a 2001 horror film starring Nicole Kidman about a woman living with her two photo-sensitive children who becomes convinced that her house is haunted.
Character: Grace to her housekeeper and children.
At first I could not understand … what the pillow was doing in my hands … or why you didn’t move. But then I knew. It had happened. I had killed my children. I got the rifle. I put it to my forehead. Then I pulled the trigger. Nothing. Then I heard your laughter in the bedroom. Ahh. You were playing with the pillows as if nothing had happened. And I thought … the Lord in His great mercy was giving me another chance, telling me “Don’t give up. Be strong. Be a good mother. For them.” But now … now … what does all this mean? Where are we? I don’t know if there even is a limbo. I’m no wiser than you are. But I do know that I love you. I’ve always loved you. And this house is ours. You say it with me. This house is ours. This house is ours. This house is ours.
The Quiet is a 2005 film about a young deaf and mute woman (Dot) who is sent to live with her godparents and their daughter (Nina).
Character: Nina to Dot.
Life sucks, Dot. I feel like I can tell you this. I feel like I can be honest because you can’t hear. Or can you? Look at you, eating your sandwich like a piglet while I talk. Strangely comforting… When I first met you, I mean when you first moved in, I hated you. I hated your face, your dumb blank stare. But now that I feel like I know you again that’s all changed. It’s so nice to know there’s someone whose life sucks more than mine. (whispers) I’m gonna kill my dad Dot. Tonight. I hate him you know. I hate him and I love him. I hate it when he won’t let me go out with my friends, but I love it when he fucks me. I hate it when he fucks me too, though. See how that works? Doesn’t make any sense. He likes it when I bite on his nipples though. I stick the tip of his nipple between my teeth… and I rub my tongue back and forth on it, like a windshield wiper. (she emulates, using Dot’s finger) Drives him wild. I made him come once just by sucking on his nipples. I didn’t even need to touch his dick once. I love that I can tell you this shit, ’cause it’s like it’s off my chest but it’s still a secret, you know? Michelle’s dad’s got a gun. I know where it is. But I figure it’d be too gross. You know, with Mom’s decorating and all. Although she’s probably already joining Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe in Pill Popper’s Paradise. Just like an ‘E!’ True Maradin story. I’m gonna do it late. Mom won’t wake up, nah. You can’t hear. It’ll just be me, my daddy, and a bullet. Michelle’s gonna steal it for me this afternoon. (slams hand on table) Pow…
The Seagull is a 1895 play by Russian dramatist Anton Chekhov which dramatises the romantic and artistic conflicts between four characters: the famous story writer Boris Trigorin, the actress Nina, the fading actress Irina Arkadina, and her son the playwright Konstantin Tréplev. It was adapted for film in 1968 starring James Mason and Vanessa Redgrave.
Character: Nina talking to her ex-boyfriend, Kostya.
Why do you say you kiss the ground I walk on? I ought to be killed. I’m so tired, Kostya! If I could only rest … rest. I am the seagull … No, that’s not it. I’m an actress! It doesn’t matter. So he’s here, too! It doesn’t matter! He didn’t believe in the theatre, he laughed at my dreams, and little by little, I stopped believing myself. I lost heart. And always the strains of love, jealousy, constant fear for the child … I became trivial, and commonplace, I acted without thinking or feeling … I didn’t know what to do with my hands, I couldn’t move properly, or control my voice. You can’t imagine what it’s like to know you’re acting badly! I am a seagull. Do you remember the seagull you shot? You left it at my feet, he came to me and said, “I had an idea. A subject for a short story. A girl, like yourself, lives all her life on the shores of a lake. She loves the lake, like a seagull … But a man comes along, by chance, and, because he has nothing better to do, destroys her …” What was I talking about, before? I – Yes, about acting. I’m not like that anymore. I’m a real actress now! I act with delight, with rapture. I feel drunk when I’m onstage and think that I am wonderful. Ever since I got here, I’ve been walking around, walking around and thinking, thinking and even believing that my soul grows stronger every day. Now I see at last, Kostya, that in our kind of work, whether we’re writers or actors, the important thing is not fame, or glory, not what I used to dream about, but learning how to endure. I must bear my cross, and have faith. If I have faith, it doesn’t hurt so much, and when I think of my calling I’m not afraid of life. When you see him, don’t tell him anything… I do love him, yes, I love him more than ever… “By chance. A subject for a short story.” How sweet it used to be, Kostya! Remember? How bright, and warm, how joyous and pure our lives were! And the feelings we had for each other were like fine, delicate flowers! Do you remember?
The Shining is a 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. It is based on Stephen King’s 1977 novel about a writer, Jack Torrance, who accepts a job as an off-season caretaker at an isolated haunted hotel. Jack becomes influenced by the supernatural presences and, descending into madness, he tries to murder his wife and son.
Character: Wendy talking to the doctor.
We’ve only been here about three months. Eh we’re from Vermont. My husband was teaching school there. Um let’s see I guess Danny started talking to Tony about the time we put him into nursery school there. He didn’t like it too much at first, and then he had an injury – ah he dislocated his shoulder – so we kept him out for a while, and, yeah, I…I guess that’s about the time when I first noticed that he was talking to Tony. Well it was just one of those things. You know… purely an accident, um.My husband had oh… been drinking, and he came home about three hours late, so he wasn’t exactly in the greatest mood that night. And well Danny had scattered some of his school papers all over the room… and my husband grabbed his arm, you know, and pulled him away from them. It’s…it’s just the sort of thing you do a hundred times with a child – you know, in a park or on the streets – but on this particular occasion my husband just… used too much strength and he injured Danny’s arm. Anyway, something good did come out of it all because he said: “Wendy, I’m never gonna touch another drop and if I do you can leave me”, and he didn’t and he hasn’t had any alcohol in – -eh five months.
Up at the Villa is a 2000 film based on the 1941 novella by William Somerset Maugham about a young widow caught among three men: her suitor, her one-night stand, and her confidant.
Character: Mary Panton to Rowley Flint, her suitor.
I don’t want love because for years I’ve only known the humiliation of it. I loved my husband desperately and he ended up killing himself with drink and gambling and left me with nothing. Apart from debts. We were married for twelve years. Everyone told me I shouldn’t marry him – but I didn’t care. We had plenty of money then but I’d have married him if he hadn’t had a cent. He was such fun, lots of friends and we were terribly in love, but in the end he was- bankrupt and had no friends except for the riff raff that sponged off him and bled him to death and the women he with when he went out and got – got blind drunk. I preferred it that way. First I was terribly jealous and very upset and in the end I realized if he didn’t have them he’d come home and want me with his breath stinking of whiskey and his face all distorted and all hunched up and I knew it wasn’t love that made him passionate, just drink. Me or another woman, it made no difference. And his kisses made me feel sick and his desire horrified me. I should have left but I couldn’t. Even when I thought I’d die of shame, even when he got rough with me, I still stayed. How could I leave when I knew I was the only thing standing between him and absolute ruin? He was alone in the car when he crashed it, thank God. He was doing 60 miles an hour on a slippery road and went straight into a tree. I got there before he died. His last words were, “I’ve always loved you, Mary”. And that broke my heart. You see, despite all he’d done I still loved him. Well, you certainly got more than you bargained for when you brought me up here, didn’t you. Well, may I have one of your cigarettes, please? Anyway I feel much better.
When a Man Loves a Woman is a 1994 film starring Andy García and Meg Ryan about an airline pilot and his wife who are forced to face the consequences of her alcoholism when her addictions threaten her life and their daughter’s safety.
Character: Alice at an AA meeting.
Hi, I’m Alice…I’m an alcoholic. I’ve been sober for 184 days. I drank my first beer when I was nine years old. My father was an alcoholic, so my mother liked to blame my problem on his bad example, that way she could hurt us both at once. Anyway, I liked my beer and the ones that followed. And about a year ago I got drunk … and I couldn’t stop. It’s never quite happened like that before, and I still don’t know why. I’ve lied to everyone I know, everyone I loved. I was ashamed, terrified and humiliated every day. One day I got out of the shower, grabbed a towel and decided to go get the paper. It’s a good thing no one saw me go out the door or at the curb, because i went out there with the towel in my hand. I know how lucky I’ve been. Because there were times I drove my little girls around just ripped out of my mind. One Saturday I took my baby girl on errands and when I got home I realized she wasn’t with me. I had left her somewhere. And since I couldn’t remember where I’d been, I had no idea where so, I spent the next few hours calling every shop I’d ever been to, until finally, the tile guy rang my door bell. He had found my address on one of my checks. I rewarded him of course, by never going back to his store. My bottom was 184 days ago, when my little girl watched me chase aspirin with vodka. And then I hit her. And when I passed out, she was alone with me. And she thought I was dead. In all my life I will never know what that did to her. But I have to forgive myself for that and I have to forgive myself for what I did to my husband. It’s amazing how much you can hate yourself for being low and weak and he couldn’t save me from that. So I turned it on him and I tried to empty it onto him, but there was always more, you know. When he tried to help I told him he made me feel small and worthless. But nobody makes us feel that way, we do that for ourselves. I shut him out, because I knew that if he really saw who I was on the inside … he wouldn’t love me. And we’re separated now. He’s moved away and it was so hard not to beg him to stay. And I don’t know if I’m going to get another chance, but I have to believe, that I deserve one. Because we all do.
White Oleander is a 2002 film about a teenage girl (Astrid) who gets moved to various foster homes after her mother has gone to prison. It is based on the 1999 novel by Janet Fitch.
Everybody asks why I started at the end and worked back to the beginning. The reason is simple. I couldn’t understand the beginning until I had reached the end. There were too many pieces of the puzzle missing, too much she would never tell. I could sell these things. People want to buy them. But I’d set it all on fire first. She’d like that. She’d make it just to burn it. I couldn’t afford this one, but the beginning deserves something special. But how do I show that nothing, not a taste, not a smell, not even the color of the sky has ever been as clear and sharp as it was when I belonged to her? I don’t know how to express that being with someone so dangerous was the last time I felt safe. The Santa Anas blew in hot from the desert that fall. Only the oleanders thrived. Maybe the wind was the reason my mother did what she did. If it was, I wouldn’t have known. I lived in her shadow then. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I know everybody thinks that when they’re small, but she was the most beautiful woman most people had ever seen. He came into our lives without warning. She ignored him at first; he wasn’t her type. We laughed about him, his persistence. “Never let a man spend the night,” she said. “Never apologize. Never explain.” She was breaking all her rules and it would change everything.
Two years after Paul and I moved to New York, I received a letter from my mother. In it was a copy of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, my mother on the cover. A Santa Monica gallery had mounted a showing of her work, and the Times included seven pages of her hauntingly distant prison collages. She stares out from the cover, the bars of her cell behind her. Beautiful. Dangerous. Proud. The Times said her lawyer came close to winning a retrial after a first failed appeal; they called her show a triumph. It’s too much to imagine her tempering her joy with a moment of grief, a moment for what that triumph had cost. These suitcases are a map of that country, a terrible country I will never revisit. Even so, I find myself thinking of her, wanting to feel that wind. It’s a secret wanting, like a song I can’t stop humming, or loving someone you can never have. No matter how much she has damaged me, no matter how flawed she is, I know my mother loves me.
Wit is a 2001 television movie based on the 1998 Pulitzer Prize winning play of the same title by Margaret Edson about Vivian Bearing, an English professor who has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, and who reflects on significant events in her life.
Character: Professor E M Ashford to Vivienne during her college years.
Oh yes, your essay on Holy Sonnet 6, Ms Bearing, is a melodrama with a veneer of scholarship unworthy of you, to say nothing of Donne. Do it again. Begin with the text, Ms Bearing, not with the feeling. Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so. You have entirely missed the point of the poem because you’ve used an edition of the text that is unauthentically punctuated. In the Gardner edition – Ms Bearing, you take this too lightly. This is metaphysical poetry, not the modern novel – the standards of scholarship and critical reading that one would apply to any other text is simply insufficient. The effort must be total for the results to be meaningful. Do you think that the punctuation of the last line of this sonnet is merely an insignificant detail? The sonnet begins with a valiant struggle with death – calling on all the forces of intellect and drama to vanquish the enemy, but it is ultimately about overcoming the seemingly insuperable barriers separating life, death and eternal life. In the edition you chose, this profoundly simple ruling is sacrificed to hysterical punctuation. And Death – capital D – shall be no more; – semi-colon – Death, – capital D – comma – thou shalt die! – exclamation mark. If you go in for this sort of thing I suggest you take up Shakespeare. Gardner’s edition of the Holy Sonnets returns to the Westmoreland manuscript source of 1610 – not for sentimental reasons I assure you, but because Helen Gardner is a scholar. It reads: And death shall be no more – comma – death thou shalt die. Nothing but a breath, a comma, separates life from life everlasting. So simple really. With the original punctuation restored, death is no longer something to act out on a stage with exclamation marks. It is a comma, a pause. In this way, the uncompromising way, one learns something from the poem, wouldn’t you say? Life. Death. Soul. God. Past. Present. Not insuperable barriers, not semi-colons, just a comma. It is not wit, Ms Bearing it is truth. The paper is not the point. Vivian. you’re a bright young woman. Use your intelligence. Don’t go back to the library. Go out. Enjoy yourself with friends, ‘hmm?
Wuthering Heights is the only published novel by Emily Brontë, published in 1847. The most famous film adaptation was 1939’s Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon and directed by William Wyler. It’s about on two neighbouring families, the Earnshaws of Wuthering Heights and the Lintons of Thrushcross Grange. Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff are the main characters of the story and their passionate, but ultimately doomed love eventually destroys them and the people around them.
Character: Catherine proclaims her feelings about Heathcliff and Edgar to Nelly, the maidservant.
Who is to separate us, pray? No, as long as I live, Ellen. Every Linton on the face of the earth might melt into nothing, before I could consent to forsake Heathcliff! Oh, that is not what I mean. I shouldn’t be Mrs Linton were such a price demanded. He’ll be as much to me as he has been all his lifetime. Edgar must shake off his dislike for Heathcliff and learn to tolerate him. He will when he learns my true feelings for Heathcliff. Nelly, I see now, you think me a selfish wretch, but did it ever strike you that if Heathcliff and I should marry, we would be beggars? Whereas if I marry Linton, I can aid Heathcliff to rise and place him out of my brother’s power. What were the use of my creation if I were contained here? My great miseries have been Heathcliff’s miseries and I have watched and felt each from the beginning. If all else perished and he remained, I should continue to be. If all else remained and he were annihilated, the universe would turn into a mighty stranger. My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it – I am well aware – as winter changes the trees, but my love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath, invisible, but necessary. Nellie – I AM Heathcliff!”
Character: Catherine (speaking to Isabella in front of Nelly).
I wouldn’t be you for a kingdom! Nelly, help me to convince her of her madness. Tell her what Heathcliff is: an unreclaimed creature, without refinement, without cultivation; an arid wilderness of furze and whinstone. I’d as soon put that little canary into the park on a winter’s day, as recommend you to bestow your heart on him! It is deplorable ignorance of his character, child, and nothing else, which makes that dream enter your head. Pray, don’t imagine that he conceals depths of benevolence and affection beneath a stern exterior! He’s not a rough diamond – a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic: he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man. I never say to him, “Let this or that enemy alone, because it would be ungenerous or cruel to harm them;” I say, “Let them alone, because I should hate them to be wronged” and he’d crush you like a sparrow’s egg, Isabella, if he found you a troublesome charge. I know he couldn’t love a Linton; and yet he’d be quite capable of marrying your fortune and expectations: avarice is growing with him a besetting sin. There’s my picture: and I’m his friend – so much so, that had he thought seriously to catch you, I should, perhaps, have held my tongue, and let you fall into his trap. Banish him from your thoughts. He’s a bird of bad omen: no mate for you.
Character: Nelly Dean to Mr.Lockwood, the stranger who has come to stay at Wuthering Heights.
Before I came to live here, I was almost always at Wuthering Heights; because my mother had nursed Mr. Hindley Earnshaw, that was Hareton’s father, and I got used to playing with the children. I ran errands too, and helped to make hay, and hung about the farm ready for anything that anybody would set me to. One fine summer morning – it was the beginning of harvest, I remember – Mr. Earnshaw, the old master, came downstairs, dressed for a journey and, after he had told Joseph what was to be done during the day, he turned to Hindley, and Cathy, and me – for I sat eating my porridge with them – and he said, speaking to his son, “Now, my bonny man, I’m going to Liverpool to-day, what shall I bring you? You may choose what you like: only let it be little, for I shall walk there and back – sixty miles each way, that is a long spell!” Hindley named a fiddle, and then he asked Miss Cathy; she was hardly six years old, but she could ride any horse in the stable, and she chose a whip. He did not forget me. for he had a kind heart, though he was rather severe sometimes. He promised to bring me a pocketful of apples and pears, and then he kissed his children, said good-bye, and set off. It seemed a long while to us all – the three days of his absence – and often did little Cathy ask when he would be home. Mrs. Earnshaw expected him by supper-time on the third evening, and she put the meal off hour after hour; there were no signs of his coming, however, and at last the children got tired of running down to the gate to look. Then it grew dark; she would have had them to bed, but they begged sadly to be allowed to stay up; and, just about eleven o’clock, the door-latch was raised quietly, and in stepped the master. He threw himself into a chair, laughing and groaning, and bid them all stand-off, for he was nearly killed — he would not have such another walk for the three kingdoms. “And at the end of it to be flighted to death!” he said, opening his great-coat, which he held bundled up in his arms. “See here, wife! I was never so beaten with anything in my life: but you must e’en take it as a gift of God; though it’s as dark almost as if it came from the devil.” We crowded round, and over Miss Cathy’s head I had a peep at a dirty, ragged, black-haired child; big enough both to walk and talk: indeed, its face looked older than Catherine’s; yet when it was set on its feet, it only stared round, and repeated over and over again some gibberish that nobody could understand. I was frightened, and Mrs. Earnshaw was ready to fling it out of doors: she did fly up, asking how he could fashion to bring that gipsy brat into the house, when they had their own bairns to feed and fend for? What he meant to do with it, and whether he were mad? The master tried to explain the matter; but he was really half dead with fatigue, and all that I could make out, amongst her scolding, was a tale of his seeing it starving, and houseless, and as good as dumb, in the streets of Liverpool, where he picked it up and inquired for its owner. Not a soul knew to whom it belonged, he said; and his money and time being both limited, he thought it better to take it home with him at once, than run into vain expenses there: because he was determined he would not leave it as he found it. Well, the conclusion was, that my mistress grumbled herself calm; and Mr. Earnshaw told me to wash it, and give it clean things, and let it sleep with the children. Hindley and Cathy contented themselves with looking and listening till peace was restored: then, both began searching their father’s pockets for the presents he had promised them. The former was a boy of fourteen, but when he drew out what had been a fiddle, crushed to morsels in the great-coat, he blubbered aloud; and Cathy, when she learned the master had lost her whip in attending on the stranger, showed her humour by grinning and spitting at the stupid little thing; earning for her pains a sound blow from her father, to teach her cleaner manners. They entirely refused to have it in bed with them, or even in their room; and I had no more sense, so I put it on the landing of the stairs, hoping it might he gone on the morrow. By chance, or else attracted by hearing his voice, it crept to Mr. Earnshaw’s door, and there he found it on quitting his chamber. Inquiries were made as to how it got there; I was obliged to confess, and in recompense for my cowardice and inhumanity was sent out of the house. This was Heathcliff’s first introduction to the family.