Monologue – The Wizard of Oz

Someone challenged me today, without knowing it, to help them with a monologue they had to do for a performing arts audition for Level 3 at college next year.

Did I know some good monologues? I came up with a website for her, which had the following monologues contained therein…

Peter Pan – Dramatic Monologue

WENDY

Boy, why are you crying? You say that you are not crying? Oh, yes you are. What is my name? Wendy, Moira, Angela, Darling. What’s yours? Peter Pan, is that all? Oh, it is. In that case, I’m so sorry. Where do you live? The second star to the right and straight ‘till what? What a funny address. I ah mean, is that what they put on your letters? Well if you don’t get letters, you mother must get… You don’t have a mother? Oh, Peter.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Dramatic Monologue

VIOLET BEAUREGARDE

(Chewing ferociously on gum, waving arms excitedly, talking in a rapid manner, from somewhere in audience) I’m a gum-chewer normally, but when I heard about these ticket things of Mr Wonka’s, I laid off the gum and switched to candy bars in the hope of striking it lucky. Now, of course, I’m right back on gum. I just adore gum. I can’t do without it. I munch it all day long except for a few minutes at mealtimes when I take it out and stick it behind my ear for safe-keeping. To tell you the honest truth, I simply wouldn’t feel comfortable if I didn’t have that little wedge of gum to chew on every moment of the day, I really wouldn’t. My mother says it’s not ladylike and it looks ugly to see a girl’s jaws going up and down like mine do all the time, but I don’t agree. And who’s she to criticize, anyway, because if you ask me, I’d say that her jaws are going up and down almost as much as mine are just from yelling at me every minute of the day. And now, it may interest you to know that this piece of gum I’m chewing right at this moment is one I’ve been working on for over three months solid. That’s a record, that is. It’s beaten the record held by my best friend, Miss Cornelia Prinzmetel. And was she ever mad! It’s my most treasured possession now, this piece of gum is. At nights, I just stick it on the end of the bedpost, and it’s as good as ever in the mornings.

ANNE FRANK – Dramatic Monologue

Look, Peter, the sky. (she looks up through the skylight) What a lovely, lovely day! Aren’t the clouds beautiful? You know what I do when it seems as if I couldn’t stand being cooped up for one more minute? I think myself out. I think myself on a walk in the park where I used to go with Pim. Where the jonquils and the crocus and the violets grow down the slopes. You know the most wonderful part about thinking yourself out? You can have it any way you like. You can have roses and violets and chrysanthemums all blooming at the same time! It’s funny. I used to take it all for granted. And now I’ve gone crazy about everything to do with nature. Haven’t you? (softly) I wish you had a religion, Peter. Oh, I don’t mean you have to be Orthodox, or believe in heaven and hell and purgatory and things. I just mean some religion. It doesn’t matter what. Just to believe in something! When I think of all that’s out there. The trees. And flowers. And seagulls. When I think of the dearness of you, Peter. And the goodness of people we know, all risking their lives for us every day. When I think of these good things, I’m not afraid any more. I find myself, and God, and I… We’re not the only people that have had to suffer. There’ve always been people that’ve had to. Sometimes one race, sometimes another, and yet…I know it’s terrible, trying to have any faith when people are doing such horrible things, but you know what I sometimes think? I think the world may be going through a phase, the way I was with Mother. It’ll pass, maybe not for hundreds of years, but someday I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are really good at heart. Peter, if you’d only look at it as part of a great pattern.

Peter Pan – Dramatic Monologue

CAPTAIN HOOK

How still the night is. Nothing sounds alive. Now is the hour when the children in their homes are a-bed. Their lips bright- browned with the goodnight chocolate, and their tongues drowsily searching for belated crumbs housed insecurely on their shining cheeks. Compare with them the captive children on this boat. Split me infinitives, but ‘tis me hour of Triumph! Peter killed at last and all the boys are about to walk the plank. At last, I’ve reached me peak! All mortals envy me- no little children love me. I’m, told they play at Peter Pan, and that the strongest always chooses to be Peter. They force the baby to be Hook. THE BABY!

http://kidzkonnectionct.org/ages-14/

How would you handle these when delivering them? Would you take a word or two at a time, to really get the emphasis over well? I hope so, because that is what successful delivery of a monologue is all about; dramatic emphasis. Words of power brought to life by your acting!

These were from that website, but then, I became more and more challenged to write one of my own, so I asked her, what is her favourite story, or film. The answer came back as The Wizard of Oz, so I asked her her fave character and she said Dorothy.

So, without further ado, I set to writing a two minute monologue that she could learn, take her time with when delivering and master quite easily. Here it it… see if you can hear Dorothy’s voice, from the film at any point in this selection of words.

Dorothy’s Monologue

There comes a time when we have to learn something, as children and young people and I have just learnt a very important lesson in life. You see, for all the so called friends, who say they will support you and then, when the going gets tough, fail you, there are some people who you cannot do without.

Imagine finding such a friend in a cowardly lion too afraid of his own shadow, or a clanking, clunking rusting tin man, minus a heart, or a brainless scarecrow so intent on trying to be brainy? Well that just happened to me in ways that I would not have thought possible, as we pitched battle against an evil wicked witch intent on killing me, fought off trees that wanted to keep their own juicy, ripe red apples and battled little grey, menacing, monkey creatures that even flew!

Yes, flew! Unbelievable, I know!

But it happened. I can assure you. It was so unreal, like it was part of a strange, weird dream. Like someone had managed to put a dream into my head, against my wishes, where nasty creature after creature challenged me to think of how to get home. I was so stuck you see, thinking I had to get home to Aunt Em and the farm. I had to bring Toto back home. I simply had to!

And the odd thing about it all, the thing that I learnt the most, that I now know to be true, is that there is no place like home. There’s no place, like home! That’s where the love is. That is where truth is. That is where family are! That is the place to be.

There’s no place like home!

Go on, have a go at writing one of your own from your favourite film or story. Add it here, or on the FB page for this website, to share with others. It will be gratefully received I am sure. 

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9-1 Grading Explained

If you have taken an exam this year then this site may explain how those 9 through 1 grades will be awarded a little more for you. Your teachers may have explained it, but just in case, here it is…

http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/edexcel-gcses/understanding-9-1.html?utm_source=teachitenglish&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=SEC_GEN_01JUN2017_postresults_Q

It is the Pearson Edexcel version but will be standard across the others as well, give or take a point.

RJ

Structure

If you have studied GCSE English at any level, 9 through to 1 or A* through to G, then you will have seen the word “Structure” pop up from time to time. How does a writer structure this, or that? How does this speech show a level of structure that is different from the rest etc?

Sometimes, when you read a text and then you get a “structure” question, the lights can begin to go out as you think to yourself what the hell is going on here. Don’t worry. It is normal to be like this for unless someone explains it in a way you can understand it, then it will always be something that is beyond you.

This blog aims to do just that, to explain one way of looking at a piece and then applying yourself to the dreaded “structure” question. It is not as difficult as you would think. So, you have a text. It has got words in it. Obvious, I know. But have you ever stopped to think how those words are put there, in the order they are in, on purpose? Well, if you haven’t, then you need to start thinking of it now.

Structure, you see, means just that, how a text is built and just like that other thing you build, a house, it has several elements to it. Just as the house has foundations, so too does a piece of writing. Now, as I type this, I am not consciously thinking I know, I will write a short sentence here … adding the words ‘he fell’ as one sentence just for effect. No, I am writing, thinking of four things as I write and that is structure. What is in the mind of the writer when he or she is writing?

PS. If I was writing a story for you, I would add very short sentences in there.

Think poetry for a moment. A good poem has a style, a rhythm, a pace and only so many words on a line can be there, or the intended effect is lost. The same is true with prose [stories] as well, or with speeches. Indeed, it is the same with anything ever written. So when you look at something new next, stop and think for a moment; what was this person thinking or planning when they wrote this? What was their reason for writing it? Was it to teach, to entertain, to persuade people [the MLK speech ‘I Have a Dream for example]?

What was the reason?

To analyse a text when looking at structure, try to do so in 4 ways. This is especially true of AS and A2 level English as it is here, in GCSE terms. Given a text, whatever it may be, think word, sentence, paragraph, text. Keep repeating it now…

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How has the writer used words; individual, strong, stylistic words for effect? In the Bible, there is a 2 word sentence, “Jesus wept.” It is written for effect. It is written to convey the real bitterness and sadness of the event that has gone before it. It is a reactionary phrase, a reactionary verb phrase if you will. Likewise, if someone wrote “he then plunged to his death” on one line, for effect, instead of two words being used for effect it is now six of them but look at each one. The word plunged is a powerful word, evoking an image in the mind of someone drowning, perhaps in the fear of the moment when falling. That is what I mean by looking at certain words, at a word level of usage.

Then there is sentence level work in a given text. Just as very short sentences are used to great effect, so too can they be extended, built on to really impact on meaning. Consider Dickens for a moment where he describes the fruit on display in the shop windows in A Christmas Carol. He does so in extreme detail. There are pages of writing just describing something that can and will be eaten that day. It is really quite technical language as well so when ever I taught the text, I read that bit because the students, aged twelve, found it too hard. After 5 years of teaching it one lad asked me how many times I had read that bit. “Far too many” said I. So write about how a text has simple and then complex sentences [use of colons, semi colons etc, more than basic punctuation skills] for effect.

Explain that effect.

Then go on to paragraph level analysis, looking at how a paragraph is put together. It might start off simple; easy words to lure you in to reading it further and then gradually get more difficult to read. Again, Dickens can be like that. No room for laziness when it comes to Charlie Boy. So, look at the length of each sentence. I did this with someone recently and he saw that the four sentences in the one paragraph had exactly the same amount of words in them; fourteen words. As a paragraph therefore, it was an evenly spaced and well constructed paragraph. This is how you can analyse in close detail and reflect how the writer has planned the thoughts out well.

Then, look at the whole text level. Does it have moments of fun, levity, light heartedness? If so, then how does it build up to them? Does it do so using some of the ideas we have seen and looked at earlier? Is it a case of building up tension by lengthening the sentences? Or vice versa? If so then you have a technique being used so share it. Explain how this works and the desired effect, how you see it and do so, writing about how the writer has therefore, put all of this together to form what is good [or not] literature and be prepared to criticise it for your ideas are what get extra points.

But above all, do not forget that mantra; word, sentence, paragraph, text. 

Safe writing folks!

Task

Have a go at writing this, about how the writer, Charles Dickens, structures his opening to A Christmas Carol. [Use the mantra]. Post it underneath for me to share please.

Marley was dead: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that.  The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner.  Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.  Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Mind!  I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail.  I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade.  But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.  You will therefore permit me to repeat, emphatically, that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead?  Of course he did. How could it be otherwise?  Scrooge and he were partners for I don’t know how many years.  Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend and sole mourner.  And even Scrooge was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event, but that he was an excellent man of business on the very day of the funeral, and solemnised it with an undoubted bargain.

The mention of Marley’s funeral brings me back to the point I started from.  There is no doubt that Marley was dead.  This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.  If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s Father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot — say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance — literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.