Open Forum

Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

  • 1.  Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-09-2018 21:24
    When I was in high school, we had a library of cuttings for monologues and scenes. It was amazing, because as a high school theatre student, it was an easy place to look for a monologue or scene. At that point their was no internet, and finding contemporary plays or musicals at the library was often a challenge in Kansas.

    In nearly 20 years of teaching, I have never made this kind of file because it seemed like a copyright violation. I have a collection of scene and monologue books, plus hundreds of scripts and vocal selections. These books get a lot of abuse, and I get tired of seeing the same scenes.

    New plays come out every year and I try to buy 10-20 more a year.

    I think some of the online services are great, but they have subscription fees and I don't know that they have everything I would like in a collection for students.

    How do you handle this in your classroom? What do playwrights and publishers think about classroom performances of their work, and how we should be handling them as theatre educators?

    David Tate Hastings
    Olathe South High School
    Thespian Troupe #5006
    Kansas Thespians
    Treasurer & Membership Chair

  • 2.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-10-2018 09:29
    This is a real problem.

    I try to get my students to look through the play library I have in the classroom or go to the local library to look for monologues and scenes. Unfortunately, the siren song of the internet is too attractive to most of them. They end up trolling through a limited number of appropriate monologues they can find there or they select a short or poorly written monologue from a poor source.

    I have been trying to be tougher on selection and tossing out monologues that are not well written. I have also posted lists of Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award wining plays and playwrights. Not a comprehensive list of excellent plays, I know, but at least it was pointed some of my kids int he right direction.

  • 3.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-10-2018 10:50

    As a teacher, this drove me crazy. I had a large folder of monologues, which were always being lost, and several "monologue books" that I inherited from the previous teacher. The "monologue books" were outrageously bad, all written by the same person, and made me dizzy with madness every time a student chose one. I eventually got rid of them.

    I started bringing in my own monologues and duets from my plays, and then slipping them in alongside the other pieces - (I usually didn't tell my students that I had written them) - and my kids tended to pick my material more than any others.

    So I decided to put them online for other people to use. I've continued to do this over the years - and I make everything free to use, download, and most importantly, photocopy. I figure it's a resource that I can provide teachers to make their lives easier. I know a lot of playwrights balk at the idea of putting their work online for free - (and I feel the same way about people putting up plays, royalty-free, but these are in-class monologues and duets in an educational setting)

    I think I've got almost 200 monologues and over 100 duet scenes (and trios) online now, all from published plays, and I think it's a great way to introduce kids to my work (and teachers as well). I could easily put them all together and publish a couple of books of them, but I want to keep them free for kids out there.

    A lot of people "trolling" the internet for monologues find my website - (before google changed their algorithm you could type in "scenes for teenagers" or "free monologues" and my site would be in the top 3) and I'm fine with that.

    One last thing: A few years ago, I tried to persuade Playscripts (unsuccessfully) to do the exact same thing with their entire database - give all the monologues away, make everything searchable. I figured the traffic on the site would explode and people would buy the plays eventually, but only if you were comfortable giving some of it away for free. They decided not to follow my advice, sadly.

    Don Zolidis
    Austin TX

  • 4.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-11-2018 11:29
    Mark, are you able to post those lists?

  • 5.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-10-2018 14:25
    The answer to this question for me is that I don't want to make it easy for students. As a person who came to theater by accident in high school and through it actually discovered that theater was a treasure trove of literature, I fell in love with scripts. I could imagine them on stage as I read them. It led me to directing and playwriting, and I became a pest to every non-reading theater person I ever met. I never understood the need for anyone to collect monologues or clippings because to me, those were the fingernails and nose hairs of the great bodies of work. Why aren't actors making their own discoveries and finding their own monologues? When I pass out scripts, I get very annoyed at actors who only read for their own parts. It's ineffective and narcissistic--the opposite of what you want an actor to be. Everyone has to read every play from cover to cover--to support the body of the work and to come to a more complete understanding of what a playwright is trying to do and where a script fits into the larger body of literature of which it is a part. How can you even comprehend a role by reading a single monologue anyway?  There, I've had my rant. 

  • 6.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-10-2018 15:30
    Great topic to bring up, @David Hastings, thank you.

    Couple of thoughts, before I dash out to the hairdressers. Not for me, obviously, but for my son. Anyway, I have generally found the monologue books published to be a little lacking. There's something about trying to understand a monologue or scene ripped from context from the entire play, and I always found it better (not necessarily easier or less time consuming) to actually read as many new (actually new or new to me) plays as possible. I aim to read between 50 to 100 a year, but I'm an overachiever and rapidly weird in my OCD and ADD.

    As I read each new play, I would immediately scan promising scenes and/or monologues into a PDF, and then catalogue the scene in a database with description (2 Males, 1 Female 1 Male/Comedy, Dramatic/time/place/accents/brief outline). A lot of the time, for scene work in class, I was the one assigning the scenes based on perceived strengths/weaknesses, chemistry, etc. as my students generally came from a place of ignorance of theatre (that changed the longer they stayed with me, as they became more independent). I assigned to avoid having to see 1700 iterations of Goodbye Charles or another very popular internet search playwright (not you, @Don Zolidis! I frequently turned to your material for scene work. We almost did 'The Election' as part of our 2016 fall season, but the real world just became so weirdly toxic, and our administration shot it down. But that's a separate thread for another time).

    In terms of copyright. Does 'fair use' for educational purposes cover this? As long as these are scenes that are not being performed publicly, doesn't that avoid the issue? Since I had purchased copies of the script (quite often I'd buy them in twos), does this constitute fair use? Because that then becomes a question of what are we doing with IE performances...we don't pay loyalties for those, correct? If it's a one act we're performing, we pay the licensing, obviously, but if its a scene...? I wonder if that's a separate question. For classroom use though and scene work, I think legally one is in the clear, but I would love to find out if I am mistaken. Drama Teacher Academy has a wonderful unit on copyright that's worth studying, but I can't remember if scene work for classrooms was covered (if it was, I've forgotten).

    Again, great topic to bring up!

    Phillip Goodchild
    Theatre Arts Instructor

    Etobicoke ON

  • 7.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-11-2018 16:03
    I too am interested in Fair Use.  I previously had permission from the editor to make copies of a book of plays that went out of print.  She no longer has the rights, except for the fantastic notes and discussion questions that she wrote.  If I still have reprints that she okayed, can I still use them?  Includes the following plays that I still teach: Pygmalion, Glass Menagerie, Inherit the Wind

    Karen Fairbank
    Director, eighth grade play
    Thomas Jefferson School
    St. Louis MO

  • 8.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-11-2018 09:28
    I kept a binder with what I considered good monologues and kept the full script handy for the students to read. I actually found good plays when students would bring a monologue from a play I wasn't familiar with. "Wow, that's a good monologue. I think I'll read the play." That's how I found Don Zolidis' The Birds when a student performed the Iris monologue.

    John Perry
    Retired Theatre Teacher

  • 9.  RE: Library of cuttings for monologues/duets/IE's

    Posted 07-11-2018 13:32

    Great discussion topic. Like Don, through my website I make available a bunch of monologues and scenes from my plays. They're free for use in the classroom and for auditions (and YouthPLAYS, my publishing company, does as well). All people have to do is ask.

    For IEs and forensics, the rule of thumb has been that if it's under 10 minutes, there are no royalties, but you need to purchase a copy of the script from which it comes for each participant.

    The challenge--and where people sometimes try to stretch it--is when someone wants to present a "scenes" night or showcase in front of an audience. As we all know (or at least I hope we all do), anytime a play is produced in the presence of an audience outside of the cast and crew, royalties are due, regardless of whether admission is charged. "But we're just doing a showcase of scenes," they'll say. Yeah, but taken together, they're presenting a full night of theatre--which really isn't that different from presenting a single full-length play.

    David, when you're talking about classroom performances, are you talking about in a closed classroom or open to audience (other classes, friends, parents, etc.)? If it's the former, I'd say just buy scripts (or a classroom photocopy license, if available). If it's the latter, then add royalties too.


    Jonathan Dorf
    Playwright/ Co-founder of YouthPLAYS/ Co-chair of The Alliance Of Los Angeles Playwrights
    Los Angeles CA