Solo Performance – Monologue Project: Everyone Has a Story to Tell

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Solo Performance – Monologue Project: Everyone Has a Story to Tell

We are born storytellers, but often we dismiss our experiences as being dull or unworthy because we are so familiar with them. Stories emerge if you are open to recognize them. Everything that happens to you is potential material, from your daily life to the epic moments. It's all truth, lies and memories.

The guidelines for this assignment are as follows:

  1. You must complete at least 7 of the writing exercises.

  2. You must turn in your exercises and a final draft of your monologue (typed).

  3. Your monologue must be 3-5 minutes in length.

  4. Your material must be appropriate for the classroom.

  5. Your monologue must be memorized.

  6. Your monologue must be written prior to your performance, you cannot improvise.

The rest is up to you. Do you want to be a character? Do you want to be yourself? Do you want to talk to someone? Do you want to talk directly to your audience? Are you better suited for comedy or something more serious? Do you have someone in mind that is an interesting character? Can you interview them about something and turn it into a monologue?


  • A monologue expresses the thoughts of one person.

  • A monologue must have a beginning, middle and an end.

  • A monologue should always reveal something - be it a story, a secret, an answer to a question, or an emotional outpouring.

Questions every monologue must answer:
WHO? Who are you? You should know your character inside and out?
WHAT? What are you doing? What are you talking about? What problems or complications arise for your character?
WHEN? Are we in the past, present, or future? What time of day is it?
WHERE? What it the setting? How does this location affect the character who is speaking? Your audience must get a sense of where you are.

WHY? Through your character’s dialogue, let us know why the character is saying and doing the things she/he are doing. The audience must have a sense of what motivates the character otherwise they will become confused and uninterested.

HOW? How does your character resolve the complications you have set up? The way a character resolves a conflict is one of the main components of storytelling.
Monologue Project – Writing Exercises
You must choose at least 7 of the writing exercises to complete. Please do each exercise on a separate sheet of paper and label appropriately. Each exercise must be at least 1 page written. The purposes of these exercises are to inspire you to come up with some ideas for your monologue. If you produce something good in an exercise you can work with it to become a full length monologue.
Each writing exercise is worth 10 points and will be turned in on the day you perform. Any additional writing exercises you do will count as 5 points extra credit a piece.

  1. Go to a public place like a restaurant, library, the bus, or mall. Observe one person for 10-15 minutes without interruption. Write down a detailed description of that person. Talk about what they look like physically, how they move or speak, and predict some things about who they are. Write their “back-story.” Are they married? Do they have kids? What do they do for a living? Do they have a secret? You may free-write as you observe writing down as many details as fast as you can without stopping.

  1. Look through old stuff like pictures, letters, diaries, toy, etc. Pick something and tell the story. Be as detailed as possible.

  1. Write a rant. A rant is when you typically attack a person, idea, institution, or an event. Rants are usually negative.

  1. Think of three people. Write about each of them getting angry. What characteristic gestures do they use? What tones of voice? Emphasize their physical action and how it shows their anger, but feel free to include dialogue and what is going on inside them.

  1. Write down an actual overheard conversation - it might be someone in your family or a stranger on the train. I once overheard a man talking passionately with what seemed to be his girl friend - and then calling his wife to tell her what time he'd be home!  After you've written the observed half of the conversation, write again, making up what the second person said.

  1. Think of a common cliché or stereotype and write a passage in which you describe a time you heard it used, or write a scene in which a character uses it. Then--have something humorous or serious happen-- an action-- that is the opposite of the cliché or stereotype: the early bird doesn't catch the worm or the old man is demonstrably not set in his ways....

  1. It is the birthday of someone important who has died. This person is famous or someone you know personally. You or, if you're writing fiction, a character writes a letter to the person.

  1. Free-write about something embarrassing that once happened to you.

  1. Write the story of a family meal. This can be your family or a family you wish you had been part of, or a totally fictional family. Is the meal a happy occasion? What is being eaten? Do underlying tensions cause flare-ups over small disagreements? Write what is served, how it is served, where it is served, what the family talks about-- and what they are really talking about.

  1. Pick someone you know: a family member, friend, the guy who works at the corner store…and free-write as them. The important part of this exercise is not necessarily what you are talking about, but that you are saying it as that person. Try to visualize how their voice sounds, their rate of speech, and how they are moving.

  1. Interview someone about an event. It could be a personal event (ex. the first time they fell in love) or a societal event (ex. Where they were and what they were doing when Obama got elected). Tape the interview and transcribe their answers into a monologue.

  1. Free-write about someone who has a secret.

  1. Start a free-write with the first line: ‘I know you won't believe this, but I'm coming home.'

  1. Write a toast. The character giving the toast hates the person they are toasting. Where the character is in love with the person they are toasting. Where the character doesn't actually know the person they're toasting.

  1. Write a letter to yourself as someone else. This could be whomever you want.

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