OUR TOWN - AUDITION MONOLOGUES
Choose a few monologues and be able to read them at auditions. It is not necessary to memorize any monologue, but they are written in dialect, so practice and become familiar with them. As always, characterizations are very important. Bear in mind, these are just snippets from the original text. If you prefer, I encourage you to write your own 1-minute monologue for a character, based on lines from the text.
STAGE MANAGER—It's 1904. It's July 7th, just after High School Commencement. That's the time most of our young people jump up and get married. Soon as they’ve passed their last examinations in solid geometry and Cicero's Orations, looks like they suddenly feel themselves fit to be married. It's early morning. Only this time it's been raining. It's been pouring and thundering. Mrs. Gibbs' garden, and Mrs. Webb's here: drenched. All those bean poles and pea vines: drenched. All yesterday over there on Main Street, the rain looked like curtains being blown along. Hmm ... it may begin again any minute. There! You can hear the 5:45 for Boston. And there's Mrs. Gibbs and Mrs. Webb come down to make breakfast, just as though it were an ordinary day. I don't have to point out to the women in my audience that those ladies they see before them, both of those ladies cooked three meals a day one of 'em for twenty years, the other for forty and no summer vacation. They brought up two children apiece, washed, cleaned the house, and never a nervous breakdown. It's like what one of those Middle West poets said: You've got to love life to have life, and you’ve got to have life to love life. . . It's what they call a vicious circle.
STAGE MANAGER (as clergyman) – There are a lot of things to be said about a wedding. We can’t get them all into one wedding, naturally, - especially not into a wedding at Grover’s Corners, where weddings are mighty short and plain. In this play, I take the part of the minister. That gives me the right to say a few things more. Yes, for a while now the play gets pretty serious. Y’see some churches say that marriage is a sacrament. I don’t quite know what that means, but I can guess. This is a good wedding. The people here are pretty young, but they come from a good State, and they chose right. The real hero of this scene isn’t on stage at all. And you all know who that is. And don’t forget the other witnesses at this wedding: the ancestors. Millions of them. Most of them set out to live two-by-two. Millions of them. Well, that’s all my sermon. ‘Twan’t very long anyway.
STAGE MANAGER— You know as well as I do that the dead don’t stay interested in us living people for very long. Gradually, gradually, they lose hold of the earth… and the ambitions they had … and the pleasures they had …and the things they suffered… and the people they loved. They get weaned away from earth—that’s the way I put it, --weaned away. And they stay here while the earth part of ‘em burns away, burns out. And all that time they slowly get indifferent to what’s goin’ on in Grover’s Corners. They’re waitin’. They’re waitin’ for something that they feel is comin’. Something important and great. Aren’t they waitin’ for the eternal part in them to come out clear? Some of the things they’re going to say maybe’ll hurt your feelings. That’s the way it is. Mother’n daughter…husband ‘n wife...enemy ‘n enemy…money ‘n ‘miser… all those terribly important things kind of grow pale around here.
EMILY WEBB— (to George) I’m not mad at you. But, since you ask me, I might as well say it right out, George - I don t like the whole change that’s come over you in the last year. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I’ve just got to tell the truth and shame the devil. Up to a year ago, I used to like you a lot. And I used to watch you while you did everything - because we’d been friends so long. And then you began spending all your time at baseball. And you never stopped to speak to anyone anymore. Not even to your own family, you didn’t. And George, it’s a fact - ever since you’ve been elected Captain, you’ve got awful stuck up and conceited, and all the girls say so. They may not say so to your face, but that's what they say about you behind your back, and it hurts me to hear them say it, but I've got to agree with them a little. I always expect a man to be perfect and I think he should be. Well, my father is. And as far as I can see, your father is. There’s no reason on earth why you shouldn’t be too.
EMILY WEBB —I can't bear it. They're so young and beautiful. Why did they ever have to get old? Mama, I'm here. I'm grown up. I love you all, everything. I can’t look at everything hard enough. (pause) Oh, Mama, just look at me one minute as though you really saw me. Mama, fourteen years have gone by. I'm dead. You’re a grandmother, Mama – I married George Gibbs, Mama. Wally’s dead too, Mama. His appendix burst on a camping trip to Crawford Notch. We felt just terrible about it, don’t you remember? But, just for a moment now we’re all together. Mama, just for a moment let’s be happy. Let’s look at one another! (To Stage Manager) I can’t go on! It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize… all that was going on and we never noticed! Take me back – up the hill – to my grave. But first--Wait! One more look! Good-by, Good-by, world. Good-by, Grover's Corners. . . Mama and Papa. Good-by to clocks ticking . . . and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths . . . and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? every, every minute? (sighs) I'm ready to go back. I should have listened to you. That's all human beings are. Just blind people.
GEORGE GIBBS – I’m celebrating because I’ve got a friend who tells me all the things that ought to be told me. I’m glad you spoke to me like you did. But you’ll see. I’m going to change so quick. And Emily, I want to ask you a favor. Emily, if I go away to State Agricultural College next year, will you write me a letter once in a while? The day wouldn't come when I wouldn't want to know everything that's happening here. Y’ know, Emily, whenever I meet a farmer I ask him if he thinks it’s important to go to Agricultural School to be a good farmer. And some of them even say it’s a waste of time. And like you say, being gone all that time – in other places, and meeting other people. I guess new people probably aren’t any better than old ones. Emily – I feel that you’re as good a friend as I’ve got. I don’t need to go and meet the people in other towns. I’m going to make up my mind right now – I won’t go. I’ll tell Pa about it tonight.
GEORGE GIBBS— Emily, I'm glad you spoke to me about that---that fault in my character. What you said was right; but there was one thing wrong with it. That's where you said that I wasn't noticing--- people---and you for instance---why, you say, you were watchin' me when I did everything---Why I was doin' the same about you all the time. Why sure---I always thought about you as one of the chief people I thought about. I always made sure where you were sitting on the bleachers, and who you were with, and for three days now I've tried to walk home with you, but something always got in the way. Yesterday, I was standing over by the wall waiting for you and you walked home with Miss Corocan. Listen, Emily, I'm going to tell you why I'm not going to Agricultural School. I think once you've found a person you're very fond of---I mean a person who's fond of you, too, and likes you well enough to be interested in your character---Well, I think that is just as important as college is, even more so. That's what I think.
DR. GIBBS —Make yourself comfortable, George. I'll only keep you a minute. George, how old are you? Sixteen. Yes, and what do you want to do after school's over? Work on your Uncle Luke’s farm, right? You'll be willing, will you, to get up early and milk and feed the stock . . . and you'll be able to hoe and hay all day? George, while I was in my office today I heard a funny sound – and what do you think it was? It was your mother chopping wood. There you see your mother – getting up early; cooking meals all day long; washing and ironing; - and still she has to go out in the backyard and chop wood. I suppose she just got tired of asking you. She just gave up and decided it was easier to do it herself. And you eat her meals, and put on the clothes she keeps nice for you, and you run off and play baseball, - like she’s some hired girl we keep around the house but that we don’t like very much. Well, I knew all I had to do was call your attention to it. George, I've decided to raise your spending money twenty-five cents a week. Not, of course, for chopping wood for your mother, because that's a present you give her, but because you're getting older and I imagine there are lots of things you must find to do with it.
DR. GIBBS — I was remembering my wedding morning, Julia. I was the scaredest young fella in the State of New Hampshire. I thought I’d make a mistake for sure. And when I saw you comin’ down that aisle I thought you were the prettiest girl I'd ever seen, but the only trouble was that I'd never seen you before. There I was in the Congregational Church marryin' a total stranger. Ye-e-s! I get a shock every time I think of George setting out to be a family man--that great gangling thing! I tell you Julia, there's nothing so terrifying in the world as a son. The relation of father and son is the darndest, awkwardest thing. They'll have a lot of troubles, I suppose, but that's none of our business. Everybody has a right to their own troubles. Julia, do you know one of the things I was scared of when I married you? I was afraid we wouldn't have material for conversation more’d last us a few weeks. I was afraid we'd run out and eat our meals in silence, that's a fact. Well, you and I been conversing for twenty years now without any noticeable barren spells.
MRS. GIBBS—Everything all right, Frank? Bacon'll be ready in a minute. Set down and drink your coffee. You can catch a couple hours' sleep this morning, can't you? All told, you won't get more'n three hours' sleep. Frank Gibbs, I don't know what's goin' to become of you. I do wish I could get you to go away someplace and take a rest. I think it would do you good. I declare, you got to speak to George. Seems like something's come over him lately. He's no help to me at all. I can't even get him to cut me some wood. All he thinks about is that baseball. (calling) George! Rebecca! You'll be late for school! And don't make any noise. Your father's been out all night and needs his sleep.
MRS. GIBBS—Myrtle, did one of those secondhand-furniture men from Boston come to see you last Friday? No? Well, he called on me. First I thought he was a patient wantin' to see Dr. Gibbs. He wormed his way into my parlor, and, Myrtle Webb, he offered me three hundred and fifty dollars for Grandmother Wentworth's highboy, as I'm sitting here! He did! That old thing! Why, it was so big I didn't know where to put it and I almost give it to Cousin Hester Wilcox. I don't know if I’m going to take it. If I could get the Doctor to take the money and go away someplace on a real trip, I'd sell it like that. Y'know, Myrtle, it's been the dream of my life to see Paris, France. Oh, it sounds crazy, I suppose, but for years I've been promising myself that if we ever had the chance… Oh, I'm sorry I mentioned anything. Only it seems to me that once in your life before you die, you ought to see a country where they don't talk in English and don't even want to.
MRS. GIBBS—Frank Gibbs, don't you say another word. I feel like crying every minute. Sit down and drink your coffee. I declare, Frank, I don't know how George’ll get along. All these years, I've arranged his clothes and seen to it he's put warm things on, Frank! They're too young. Emily won't think of such things. He'll catch his death of cold within a week. Oh, Frank, weddings are perfectly awful things. Farces, that's what they are!
MR. WEBB—Well, ma’am, there ain’t much culture or love of beauty in Grover’s Corners— not in the sense you mean. Come to think of it, there’s some girls that play the piano at High School Commencement; but they ain’t happy about it. No, ma’am, there isn’t much culture; but maybe this is the place to tell you that we’ve got a lot of pleasures of a kind here: we like the sun comin’ up over the mountain in the morning, and we all notice a good deal about the birds. We pay a lot of attention to them. And we watch the change of the seasons; yes, everybody knows about them. But those other things-you’re right, ma’am, well, there ain’t much.
MR. WEBB—George, I was thinking the other night of some advice my father gave me when I got married. “Charles,” he said, “Charles, start out early showing who's boss,” he said. “Best thing to do is to give an order, even if it don't make sense; just so she'll learn to obey.” And then he said, “if anything about your wife irritates you her conversation, or anything just get up and leave the house. That'll make it clear to her,” he said. And, oh, yes! He said, “never, never let your wife know how much money you have, never.” So, I took the opposite of my father's advice and I've been happy ever since. And let that be a lesson to you, George, never to ask advice on personal matters.
MRS. WEBB—Emileeee! Time to get upl Wally! Seven o'clock! Walleee! Emileee! You'll be late for school! Walleee! You wash yourself good or I'll come up and do it myself. There you are! Now eat your breakfast. (pause as they dig in) Children! Now I won't have it. Breakfast is just as good as any other meal and I won't have you gobbling like wolves. It'll stunt your growth, that's a fact. Put away your book, Wally. You know the rules well as I do: no books at the table. As for me, I'd rather have my children healthy than bright.
MRS. WEBB—I don’t know why on earth I should be crying. I suppose there’s nothing to cry about. This morning at breakfast it came over me. There was Emily eating her breakfast as she’s done for seventeen years – and she’s going out of my house. I suppose that’s it – And Emily! She suddenly said, “I can’t eat another mouthful.” And she put her head on the table and she cried. Oh, I’ve got to say it – You know, there is something cruel about sending girls out into marriages like that. It’s – it’s cruel, I know; but I just couldn’t get myself to say anything – I went into it blind as a bat myself. The whole world’s wrong, that’s what’s the matter.
SIMON STIMSON—Now look here, everybody. Music come into the world to give pleasure. Softer! Softer! Get it out of your heads that music's only good when it's loud. You leave loudness to the Methodists. You couldn't beat 'em, even if you wanted to. Oh, before I forget it: how many of you will be able to come in Tuesday afternoon and sing at Fred Hersey's wedding? Show your hands. That'll be fine; that'll be right nice. We'll do the same music we did for Jane Trowbridge's last month. Now we'll do: "Art Thou Weary; Art Thou Languid?" It's a question, ladies and gentlemen, make it talk. Ready and begin!
SIMON STIMSON — Yes, now you know. Now you know: that’s what it was to be alive. To move around in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those – of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion or another. Now you know – that’s the “happy” existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness!
MRS. SOAMES—Naturally I didn't want to say a word about it in front of those others, but now we're alone really, it's the worst scandal that ever was in this town! Simon Stimson! To have the organist of a church drink and drink year after year. You know he was drunk tonight. And it's getting worse….Oh dear, I can see Mr. Soames scowling at the window now. You'd think we'd been to a dance the way the menfolk carry on. Tsk.
MRS. SOAMES—Perfectly lovely wedding! Loveliest wedding I ever saw. Oh, I do love a good wedding, don’t you? Doesn’t she make a lovely bride? Don’t know when I’ve seen such a lovely wedding. But I always cry; don’t know why it is, but I always cry. I just like to see young people happy. Don’t you? Oh, I think it’s lovely! Aren’t they a lovely couple? Oh, I’ve never been to such a nice wedding. I’m sure they’ll be happy. I always say, happiness – that’s the great thing. The important thing is to be happy.
HOWIE NEWSOME—Morning, Doc. Somebody sick? Oh, delivering twins, eh? This town's gettin' bigger every year. Well, it’s not gonna rain, no sir. No, it’ll be a fine day and that mist’ll burn through. Come on, Bessie. Yessir, Bessie’s going on seventeen. She’s all mixed up about the route ever since the Lockharts stopped takin' their quart of milk every day. She wants to leave 'em a quart just the same. Keeps scolding me the whole trip. Oh, morning, Mrs. Gibbs. Doc's just comin' down the street. Sorry I’m a little late today. Somep'n went wrong with the separator. Don't know what 'twas. Well, come on, Bessie!
REBECCA—I can’t use my own window, George, there's no moon there. . . . George, do you know what I think? I think maybe the moon's getting nearer and nearer and there'll be a big 'splosion. George, is the moon shining on South America, Canada and half the whole world? Is it? You know what? I never told you about that letter Jane Crofut got from her minister when she was sick. He wrote Jane a letter and on the envelope the address was like this: It said: Jane Crofut; The Crofut Farm; Grover's Corners; Sutton County; New Hampshire; United States of America. But wait, listen, it's not finished: the United States of America; Continent of North America; Western Hemisphere; the Earth; the Solar System; the Universe; the Mind of God. That's what it said on the envelope. And the postman brought it just the same!
SI CROWELL—Morning, Howie. Nope, nothing in the papers today, except we're losing about the best baseball pitcher Grover's Corners ever had--George Gibbs. He could hit and run bases, too. Yep. Mighty fine ball player. I don't see how he could give up a thing like that just to get married. Would you, Howie?
CONSTABLE WARREN—Well, I was called up this mornin’ to rescue a Polish fella darn near froze to death, he was, down by Polish Town thar. Got drunk and lay out in the snowdrifts. Thought he was in bed when I shook'm. And there’s ol’ Simon Stimson is rollin' around a little. Just saw his wife moving out to hunt for him, so I looked the other way. There he is now. I don't know how that's goin' to end, Mr. Webb. I just don’t.
JOE CROWELL, JR. —Morning, Doc Gibbs. Do you want your paper now? My schoolteacher, Miss Foster, 's getting married to a fella over in Concord. And, of course, it's none of my business but I think if a person starts out to be a teacher, she ought to stay a teacher forever. My knee? Oh, it’s fine, Doc, I never think about it at all. Only like you said, it always tells me when it's going to rain.
Dialogue for Sam Craig and Joe Stoddard
SAM CRAIG: I'm Sam Craig.
JOE STODDARD: Gracious sakes' alive! Of all people! I should'a knowed you'd be back for the funeral. You've been away a long time, Sam.
SAM CRAIG: Yes, I've been away over twelve years. I'm in business out in Buffalo now, Joe. But I was in the East when I got news of my cousin's death, so I thought I'd combine things a little and come and see the old home. You look well.
JOE STODDARD: Yes, yes, can't complain. Very sad, our journey today, Samuel.
SAM CRAIG: Yes.
JOE STODDARD: Yes, yes. I always say I hate to supervise when a young person is taken. They'll be here in a few minutes now. I had to come here early today my son's supervisin' at the home.
SAM CRAIG: Reading stones. Old Fanner McCarty, I used to do chores for him after school. He had the lumbago.
JOE STODDARD: Yes, we brought Farmer McCarty here a number of years ago now.
SAM CRAIG: Why, this is my Aunt Julia ... I'd forgotten that she'd ... of course, of course.
JOE STODDARD: Yes, Doc Gibbs lost his wife two-three years ago . . . about this time. And today's another pretty bad blow for him, too.
SAM. CRAIG: Do they choose their own verses much, Joe?
JOE STODDARD: No . . . not usual Mostly the bereaved pick a verse.
SAM CRAIG: Doesn't sound like Aunt Julia. There aren't many of those Hersey sisters left now. Let me see: where are ... I wanted to look at my father's and mother's . . .
JOE STODDARD: Over there with the Craigs’ . . Avenue F.
SAM CRAIG: (reading Simon Stimson’s epitaph) He was organist at church, wasn't he? Hm, drank a lot, we used to say.
JOE STODDARD: Nobody was supposed to know about it. He'd seen a peck of trouble. Behind his hand. Took his own life, y' know?
SAM CRAIG: Joe, what did she die of?
JOE STODDARD: Who?
SAM CRAIG: My cousin.
JOE STODDARD: Oh, didn't you know? Had some trouble bringing a baby into the world. 'Twas her second, though. There's a little boy 'bout four years old.
SAM CRAIG: The grave's going to be over there?
JOE STODDARD: Yes, there ain't much more room over here among the Gibbses, so they're opening up a whole new Gibbs section over by Avenue B. You'll excuse me now. I see they're comin'.