To participate in the August Wilson Monologue Competition, students must prepare a one to three minute monologue from Wilson’s Century Cycle. To get started, Seattle Rep has listed the top 10 male and female monologues below.
Top Ten Female Monologues:
Fences: Rose; Act 2, Scene 1
Troy has just told Rose that he’s going to be a father to another woman’s child. This revelation stuns Rose because she has sacrificed so much of herself and her dreams for Troy.
Gem of the Ocean: Black Mary; Act 2, Scene 3
Black Mary is the protégée of Aunt Ester. After being nagged by Aunt Ester on how to do daily cooking and chores, Black Mary snaps. In this monologue, Black Mary stands up for herself for the first time.
Jitney: Rena; Act 2, Scene 1
Rena has come to the jitney agency to confront Youngblood (Darnell) after he took her savings. To her shock and dismay, she discovers that he has bought a house without her knowing.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone: Martha; Act 2, Scene 5
Martha is talking to her husband Herald Loomis for the first time they have laid eyes on each other in seven years. Loomis was enslaved by Joe Turner’s men and didn’t know if he’d ever be reunited with Martha and their daughter, Zonia. The reunion is highly emotional partly because Martha explains that she has decided to move on.
Joe Turner’s Come and Gone: Molly Cunningham; Act 2, Scene 1
Molly Cunningham is talking to one of her fellow female boarders and Mattie Campbell, explaining her “personal Philosophy” to them. Initially, Molly might come off as a flirt, but what she says here is a window to how she may have been hurt in her past.span>
King Hedley II: Tonya; Act 1, Scene 2
Tonya and King are arguing over Tonya’s decision to have an abortion. Tonya feels like she cannot have another child because of the violence and suffering in their world.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Ma Rainey; Act 2, Scene 1
Ma Rainey is the biggest blues singer of her time. The injustices that have been inflicted on her as an artist have hardened her, making her more worldly and outspoken.
The Piano Lesson: Berniece; Act 2, Scene 2
Berniece’s firm opinion on not selling the piano is rooted in how much pain and suffering she has seen it cause her family. In this monologue, she is trying to get Boy Willie to understand that the piano has come to symbolize violence and death in their family.
Radio Golf: Mame; Act 2, Scene 4
Mame looses a potential job as the Governor’s Press Secretary due to her husband’s bad press. She believes that this has destroyed possibilities that were there for both of them.
Seven Guitars: Vera; Act 1, Scene 2
Years ago Vera’s boyfriend Floyd left her for another woman and moved to Chicago. Now Floyd wants Vera back, and she explains her suffering while he was gone.
Top Ten Male Monologues:
Fences: Troy; Act 1, Scene 1
Troy’s in his yard, talking to his best friend Bono, his eldest son Lyons, and his wife Rose. Troy, who enjoys being the hero in every story, relishes telling every detail of the story.
Gem of the Ocean: Caesar Wilks; Act 1, Scene 3
Caesar Wilks is the local constable. He often gets judged for being too harsh on his community. In this monologue, Caesar reacts to an innocent man’s decision to drown himself.
Jitney: Becker; Act 1, Scene 4
Becker is talking to his son, Booster who has just been released from prison. It has been about 20 years since they have last spoken to each other. Becker could never bring himself to visit his son in prison, an even now he can’t quite bring him self to forgive him.
Jitney: Youngblood; Act 2; Scene 1
Youngblood talks to his girlfriend Rena about the hard work he does to support their family. He commits to her and their future.
Jitney: Booster; Act 1, Scene 4
In an emotional reunion with his father, Booster recalls the day he realized his father wasn’t the big man he thought he was.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: Levee; Act 1, Scene 1
Levee is the talented and temperamental trumpet player in Ma Rainey’s band. After the white producers and his fellow bandmates disappoint and taunt him Levee erupts with a story from his childhood that forever shaped his desire for revenge.
The Piano Lesson: Boy Willie; Act 1, Scene 2
Boy Willie firmly believes that selling the family piano to buy land in the South will help redefine what that land has meant to his family. From slavery to ownership, from suffering to success. Yet his sister, Berniece, wants to keep the piano.
Radio Golf: Harmond Wilks; Act 2, Scene 4
Harmond Wilks is running for Mayor of Pittsburgh. He is caught between what is politically expedient and what is morally just. Harmond and Roosevelt stand on opposite sides when it comes to the demolition of Aunt Ester’s former home.
Seven Guitars: Floyd; Act 2, Scene 6
Floyd is talking to Vera, explaining why he abandoned her and left Pittsburgh to go to Chicago. He’s once again trying to woo Vera, who he loves as much as he’s capable of.
Two Trains Running: Memphis; Act 1, Scene 2
Memphis is responding to Sterling’s desire to have a rally in honor of Malcolm X’s birthday. Memphis strongly believes in action and hard work, and he castigates political rhetoric. He is a self-made man despite his struggles and the injustices he has suffered.