Finding Inspiration with Monologue Deconstruction

Similar to last week’s class, I was frustrated with myself for not thinking of funnier punch lines or interesting ideas throughout the majority of class. I didn’t have any new ideas at all.  It seems crazy to say that because I have twenty-two years of life experience to draw from, and yet, when I walked onstage, all I could think about were scenes that people had already done.

Everything changed when we began to do monologue deconstructions, which will be the format of our class show. In a monologue deconstruction, the audience provides a word to inspire the improvisers. Someone tells a real-life story based on the word that might be funny, but doesn’t have to be. Then, three scenes are performed in response to the monologue. After the three scenes, another monologue is performed, and the whole process repeats three times.

I find it a lot easier to do scenes in the context of a monologue deconstruction than in warm-ups. I’m not sure why, but I feel more comfortable and energetic when the scenes are in response to a monologue, rather then when every scene starts new. During that part of class, trust began to develop between me and the other members of my team, which led to an improvement in our collective performance. When one person walks onstage to do a scene, someone else walks out to support the first person. That means that when you walk out with an idea, you have to trust that someone will meet you, support you, and provide their own ideas. That trust seems to create better and more interesting scenes, and it made me feel more comfortable with my teammates. The difference between how I felt at the beginning of class and how I felt during the monologue deconstruction was surprising, and it seemed that time and my brain slowed down, leaving me ample time to think of something interesting to say. There was another “aha!” moment where I felt comfortable and started to enjoy myself onstage without worrying about future scenes and how they would go.

It’s hard to believe that next week is our last class, and that in two weeks we’ll perform our new skills for an audience. With the comfort and trust that’s developing in our teams, I’m not as nervous as I was the first day of class, when the class show seemed like a terrifying and insurmountable challenge. I’m even getting a little bit excited.

-Jillian McCarthy