Talking to Myself –by Janet S. Tiger
© Feb. 15, 2014 all rights reserved
(The set is a round table with five chairs around it - if you don't have round a card table will do. Each chair has something either on it or on the table in front of it - one chair has a purse on the table, another has a small pair of glasses, one has a jacket on the chair, one with a strange hat, another a scarf, a glass of water. A woman enters, she is of indeterminate middle age, and she is very cheerful, perhaps a bit too cheerful.)
Well hello, everyone! How are all my wonderful friends, today?
(There is –of course - no response from the empty table, and she gets a little irritated)
I know you're all here - I am talking to you. (She pauses to listen - no response) Can't you hear me? (Listens again) What is going on? Let me start over. (She takes a deep breath, even more phony cheerful) How are ALL my WONDERFUL friends today?
(Now she goes over to the table and lifts up the hat, puts it on, she changes, her voice is different, deep Southern.)
(Southern) How do you think we would be, you fool? Do you imagine that we just sit here waitin for the likes of you?
(She steps back, takes off the hat, a little surprised)
(As herself) What do you mean?
(She puts the hat back on)
(Southern) What the hell do you think I mean? You have no idea what's goin on now, and it shows! What is this hat? I would never wear a hat like this - and you know it, too!
(She takes off the hat, chastised)
(Herself) I'm sorry, I thought the hat would help.
(She turns to another chair.)
What about you, do you think this of any value?
(She takes the glasses and puts them on, she now sounds older, male, from a different time)
If these props are necessary for you to perform within your life, then far be it from me to interfere.
(She takes off the glasses)
(herself) Thank you, Ben, I appreciate that.
(She now goes over to the table and opens the purse, taking out cigarettes and starts to light them. As she does this, it's as if a hand pulls her to the hat, and she puts the hat on her head, Southern again, and angry.)
(Southern) If you think that startin to smoke is gonna help you - or any of your other friends here, then you are sadly mistaken! Put that cigarette down, right now!
(She starts to fight with herself, one hand pulling the cigarettes from the other. It is a tough battle, but the 'Southern' woman wins)
(Southern) There, you just forget about all this craziness! What are you trying to do - kill us all? Is that what you want?
(She puts the glasses on now, forgetting she still has the hat, and speaks as 'Ben')
(Ben) I don't think that's what she wants, I believe she is in what you now call - 'a fragile state'
(Southern) A state of insanity is what I would it, Ben, may I call you Ben? I mean we are in the same room, in the same head, I would think that's all right.
(As Ben, she waves her hand graciously)
(Ben) Of course, my dear, there are no walls here. And I certainly am no stranger to battles, why I think it was in 1787, during the Constitutional Convention, during the most heated discussions, that I was able to bring some level of rational thought back into the room.....
(At this, she takes off the hat and glasses and puts on the jacket at the table. This is a younger man, more physical)
(Tougher voice) Ok, Ben, that's enough, we know you saved the whole damn country, but right now, there's something else goin on. You know it, we all know it. Only thing is, I'm the only one who's man enough to say it.
(She steps back, not taking off the coat, but now with the Southern accent)
(Southern) Say what? What is it that you can do that we all can't?
(Tough) I can tell the damn truth - that's what I can do. I can tell the truth and I can make the truth happen, and everyone in this room knows it.
(There is a moment of apprehension, then quiet, as she picks up the scarf and speaks quietly, but with great authority)
I say this not just as an attorney, but as a fellow human being - just because you have committed unspeakable crimes against many other humans does not mean you have the power to destroy this person. Only she has that power.
(Herself, very upset) But I don’t have any power! He took it all away! Why did I think going for therapy was a good idea?
(Southern) Because you believe in what the mass media tells you, honey, and it is mostly a crock of shit.
(Tough) Yeah, why did you need to talk about us? He didn’t need to know anything about what you do in this room!
(Herself) But you are a part of me! A big part of me! And I wanted to know why!
(Ben) And that’s very admirable, my dear. I don’t understand why everyone is so angry with you. It doesn’t make sense to me.
(Tough) Shut up, Ben, I am sick of listening to your high and mighty bullshit.
(Ben) Your verbal flatulence does not change the facts……
(Tough) And what are the facts, old man? That she could talk to us with no problems – hell, her mysteries with me in them are her biggest seller, and you know that! How much money has her play about you gotten? Hunh? And whaddaya mean....‘verbal flatulence?’ You think I didn’t know that was an insult? Who the hell do you think you are?
(Ben) I am Benjamin Franklin….who is on the 100 dollar bill as opposed to you who are on the south side of a northbound mule’s ….
(Tough) What is that supposed to…..
(Herself) Stop fighting! I can’t take this anymore! We used to get along so well…..ok, maybe some arguments, but at least I could talk to all of you without these…..
(She picks up the props in disgust, playing with the scarf.)
(Herself) Could I do something drastic? Could I end a life? In all my mysteries, I’ve wondered what that truly feels like. But now, could I actually….do it?
(Tough) Sure you could. I mean, a scarf isn’t the best way, you need a lot of upper body strength to strangle someone……and scarves can rip…
(Ben) Do you feel it is the best solution?
(Southern) Yeah, what exactly would that accomplish?
(Herself) It would end this nightmare I’ve been living…..one way or another….(she now takes the scarf and winds it around her throat, but her other hands jerks it back, very roughly)
(Tough) You can't kill yourself, that would be like...like mass murder! No, you know it, deep inside you know it. You have to do it, not yourself, you have to kill him. Here.....
(He reaches inside the pocket and pulls out a knife, holds it out. She throws down the knife and takes off the jacket, she is breathing deeply, very upset)
You know I can't do that, it's..... that would be......
(She goes over slowly, takes the glass of water, drinks heavily. She is now the attorney.)
(Attorney)...... murder. The legal term is murder. Premeditated murder. As an attorney, I have to give you good counsel. We've talked about this before, my dear. Every time you write something about death or killing, we talk about many facets of each decision. There are the technical aspects…
(She speaks and we see her lips move but no sound comes out. Ben turns to the ‘tough’ guy.)
(Ben) And you think I talk a lot….
(Tough) Oh, lawyers are always the worst, right up there with pastors
(We now hear the attorney again)
(Attorney) …..And you know that this would have severe consequences, both legally and emotionally. Also, it is very, very wrong.
(She finishes the water, puts the empty glass on the table, stands and puts on the jacket again, becoming almost violent)
(Tough) Wrong? What about what he did? He's the reason she can't write anymore- and you know it!
(She takes her arm and sweeps the table clear of all the items.)
(Tough) That's why she needs all this crap to talk to us - did she ever need it before? NO! She just talked, and we talked, and it was good. But now...it's all changed- do you think these stupid props work?
(She goes to the floor to get the hat, stops.)
(Southern) Honey, you don't need that stupid hat. You never needed it before, did you? All these years of talkin to all of us? Did you?
(She is herself)
(Herself) But now, it's different! He said.....he said.....
(Tough guy) What did he say? You know what he said - he said (with a deep sneer) that you were talking to ....yourself. Right?
(She shudders and almost cries, pulls herself together)
(As Ben) Perhaps this line of thought is less valuable than another, perhaps this is a time for compromise....
(Tough) Shut up Ben, no one wants to hear your shit. You people comprised about slavery, and look what it caused. The time for compromise is past! The time for action is now1
(As herself) But he has a family, children!
(Tough) Who gives a shit? Do you? I don't think so. You don’t have a family. You don't have children. All you had was your writing, and he took that from you, didn't he? Well, didn't he?
(Almost in tears) Yes!
(She turns, reliving the moment)
I was finished with the session, I was leaving, and I made some simple comment about how all of you liked him and how you all were glad I was seeing him….and he said….’but, my dear….he always says that when he wants to make some important point….(overemphasizes it) But, my dear, you know you are merely….(very deliberately) talking to yourself.
(She puts her hands to her face in anguish)
Why did he say that to me? What purpose did he have? You are all so real to me – I can feel all of you across the miles, across the centuries! And if I’m just talking to myself, then…..then I must be…..crazy…..
(She looks at the empty room, becomes herself, but does not put down the knife.)
And this is what? Could I do it?
(She lifts the knife- is it for herself?)
To write or not to write….that is the question. Could I actually kill him?
(Tough) You could do it, you know you can!
(Southern) Honey, you are the one in control…..
(Ben) Remember, once you have committed yourself…..no pun intended, my dear, - once you have committed yourself, you cannot turn back the hands of time.
(Lawyer) And don’t forget the legal ramifications…..do you really, truly want to deal with the police, the legal system, the possibility of life in jail…..
(She waves her hands and puts her hands on her head)
(Herself) Everyone shut up! I have to think – you need to be quiet for one minute!
(She breathes deeply.)
(Herself) There, the room has stopped spinning……I know what I have to do….
(She now picks up all the ‘props’ from around the table and floor and puts them into a box, which she marks – Give away. But then she reaches in and removes the knife, looks at it, starts to smile. She now brings out a suitcase, and removes an old typewriter and a large manuscript, which she places on the table.
She now lifts the knife over her head. She looks at it, takes a deep breath.)
Out, out, damned………..psychiatrist!
(And she plunges the knife into the manuscript, grinding it until the pages are shredded.
She then puts a new piece of paper into the carriage and starts to type.)
Chapter One……I decide NOT to see a shrink……
(The lights fade, as we hear the clacking of the keys and her laughing.)
Janet S. Tiger 858-274-9678
Member Dramatists Guild since 1983
Swedenborg Hall 2006-8
Some notes - this monologue is over 10 minutes in reading time, so - with action - it could run from 11-15 minutes. Closer to a one-act, and it needs a very experienced actress. If you know someone who might be interested, please pass it along- thanks!
It could also have an alternate ending - shorter, as it would not have the typewriter bit, just her leaving with the knife, an ambiguous one, where she leaves, and the audience doesn't know if she plans to kill the shrink or herself, or ? I prefer the one I have here, but when time is an issu