[Bamboo Nation's week of new regular features continues! From now on, every Tuesday will be reserved for a thrilling feature called "Monologue Madness," for which I select one of my favorite monologues from one of my scripts (produced or unproduced) and post it here for your reading pleasure.
We kick off things with an excerpt from The Theory of Everything (2000), which premiered in Singapore and Los Angeles in a co-production between Singapore Repertory Theatre and East West Players and which was published by Dramatic Publishing. If you have not read it or seen it yet, SHAME!
But I forgive you. In fact, I reward you with my favorite monologue from the play. The character is Shimmy, 43, a Filipino American who immigrated to the United States at the age of 23. She speaks with a thick Filipino accent:]
(SHIMMY stands, facing the audience.)
SHIMMY: When I first came over to the United States twenty years ago, I took all kinds of English classes. Free ones at the high school. Grammar, Literature, Writing.
I had this one class with this teacher who during the day worked the craps table at the Sahara. This teacher made us write a one-page essay every week. Told us he would kick us out of class if we didn’t do it. Imagine. He scared us, so of course we all did it. Week after week. Writing about anything that was on our mind and then reading it out loud.
The first week I wrote about slot machines. The next week I wrote about blackjack. Then roulette. Then poker. Then baccarat. And so on and so on.
On the very last day of class, right when I was about to walk out the door, the teacher—Mr. Mitchell—stopped me and told me I wrote the best essays out of all the students in class, and then he asked me why I never ever wrote about craps. I don’t know why I said this or what I meant exactly, but I said, “You scare people, and it is my job stop you.” And I left and never saw him again.
Anyway, the essay-writing became such a habit that, even after the class was over, I continued to write. Essays. One page. Every week. Every subject possible. Everything and anything that was on my mind. I have written twenty years worth of essays. Over a thousand.
Here’s the one for this week:
(She produces a sheet of paper, reads.)
“Why I Like Madonna.
“I like Madonna a lot. Not the biblical Madonna, but the singer. I liked her even way back when she was still not so popular. I liked her during her ‘Borderline’ days. That was a good song.
“I like her because she’s vulgar. I like her because she says exactly what’s on her mind. I like her because when she sings ‘Don’t Cry for Me Argentina’ I cry.
“Some people call her a slut. But she doesn’t care. And I don’t care.
“She just keeps on singing no matter what anyone says. She keeps on acting even though people don’t like her to act. She’s her own woman. And I wish I could be as outspoken as her. But instead I am just me.
“She speaks for me. She is my voice. She lets out my frustrations. She makes life easier. She makes me think that anything is possible. She makes me believe in things like love and forgiveness and self-worth.
“In her I see what I could have been if I were not me and somebody else. She is my somebody else, and that is why I like Madonna.”
And after I have finished writing my one-page essay and read it a couple times, I crumble it up and throw it away. I don’t save them like you think.
I don’t like to see those words, those words that I wrote, fixed. In place. Just those words spelled out and in dry ink seem so final. Makes me think that everything inside me is final.
I know my life on the outside is that way, but I can’t control that too much. But what’s inside me has to constantly change. It makes me feel that I am real. It makes me feel alive. It makes me feel that maybe this life is worth living because who knows what I will write next.
(SHIMMY crumbles the paper, throws it over her shoulder. Blackout.)