Ever Wish You Could Control Your Dreams?Ever wish you could control your dreams? You know--you go to sleep and dream about whatever you want? Sometimes I think I could really FIX things if I could just dream them right. I guess that sounds pretty stupid. Like last week I had this huge test in Chemistry. I really like Chemistry, but there's so much to remember. I tanked. And I KNOW that stuff--that's what makes me so mad. Who cares, right? It's just a stupid test. But I'm the one who's supposed to be so smart. My Dad wants me to go to medical school, and I guess I do too, but who needs the pressure? I mean, doesn't he have a life of his own? If I turn out to be a moron, what's that to him? "My son, the Honor Student. My son, the Doctor." Can't he talk about sports like everybody else? The first thing he says to me when he gets home: "So, how'd the test go? Another A, right?" I told him we didn't get the test back yet. So that night I dreamed I aced the test. In my dream I remembered every stupid element. I could see the protons and electrons and neutrons spinning around like little solar systems, and I could recognize every one. I think I was flying among them for a while, like with a jet pak or something. Or maybe I WAS and electron. That part of the dream is sort of fuzzy. But the thing was, I KNEW IT ALL. I woke up before the dream was over, so I never saw my grade on the test, but I know I aced it. I had the stuff cold. And the funny thing was, the dream made the real test okay. I mean, I still got an F and all. I still probably can't get an A for the semester no matter what I do on the next test, but I'm okay with it. Look, I KNOW Chemistry. Hey, for one thing, if I didn't, how could I have dreamed all that stuff? I just had a bad day. The next morning I told my Dad I flunked the test. He gets all quiet for a minute, but then he goes, "Well, you'll do better next time, right?" He didn't even freak. I bet he still tells his buddies on Friday that I aced it, though. It's kind of pathetic when you think about it.
I personally do not like this monologue. A lot of it has to do with how it starts about wanting to control your dreams, and then ends with the person insulting his dad at the end. It's like a poorly written essay where the introduction doesn't match the conclusion. And, um, isn't chemistry more about formulas and periodic elements than protons and neutrons? But heck, chemistry for me was a looooooooooong time ago, so I don't remember.
The monologue is also way too long. But I can see why she liked it. It's a seriocomedic piece where there's some really funny stuff and some serious stuff when he talks about his dad.
I found a simpler comedic piece and sent it her way. She replied that she didn't respond to it as much as the one above and she wanted more of an arc. Fair enough. She asked if she should invest in a monologue book. Yes. Good investment.
But here's the thing about monologues:
Who says you CANT change them!?!
Okay, so you probably shouldn't go around with "Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo, I doth hath texted thee thousands of times!" But for monologues online or in books, you can tweak.
[Also, I have to caveat - I'm a struggling actress for a reason! - so....consider the source when I say you can do this or that.... :) ]
So yes, let's see if we can tweak the online monologue and cut it waaaay down. Here's my first pass at it:
My dad is very stern. Kinda scary. He's a biochemist. He wants me to go to medical school, and I guess I do too, but it's so much pressure! And last week I had this huge test in Chemistry. I really like Chemistry, but there's so much to remember. I tanked. Who cares, right? It's just a stupid test. But I'm terrified of what my dad's gonna say. And of course the first thing he says to me when he gets home is "So, how'd the test go? Another A, right?" I told him we didn't get the test back yet. That night I dreamt I aced the test. In my dream I remembered every element. I could see the molecules and ions and solutions. I recognized every one. I KNEW IT ALL. And the funny thing is, the dream made the real test okay. I mean, I still got a C- and all. I still probably can't get an A for the semester no matter what I do on the next test, but I'm okay with it. Look, I KNOW Chemistry. I just had a bad day. The next morning I told my dad my grade. He got all quiet for a minute, but then he goes, "Well, you'll do better next time, right?" He didn't even freak. I never, in a million years, would have dreamt he'd be okay with it. I love my dad.
And here's my reasons for the edits:
I didn't like how the monologue was more about a dream than it was about the relationship with the dad. The relationship with the dad is what gives it it's arc - she's scared the dad will stop loving her, he proves that he loves her no matter what, and yay, she realizes she had nothing to fear. The introduction of the monologue matches the subject matter in the conclusion.
I changed the dream. Now it includes actual chemistry!
I changed the grade from an F to a C-, because any A student would FREAK if she got a C-. An F seemed too unrealistic. I mean, come on. You have to work REALLY hard on a test to get an F, you know? It made it more realistic and empathetic to me.
Some beat notes: Make sure that it's a big deal that you lied to your dad about not getting the test back, and it's a big deal that you love him at the end. One thing that is constant in life is how we want to make our parents proud of us. I think that's the theme of this monologue. And I love that this monologue now HAS a theme.
There are a lot of bad monologues out there. Trust me, I know. But with a little tweaking, and actor advice from friends, you can take something okay and make it brilliant.
Here's to all the brilliance YOU help create as a STORYTELLER!
The Struggling Actress