Seven student writers offer insight into their monologues, from a supernatural story of motherhood to a personal reflection on class, performed for Buttered Toast’s exciting new podcast series.
Monologues have always been a great way for writers to develop their skills and get noticed. During lockdown, the medium has become even more appealing for obvious reasons. Over the past few months, Buttered Toast Theatre Company has brought together actors, writers and directors to produce some audio monologues that will be released over the next five weeks. Without further ado, here are some of the writers on the inspirations behind their pieces – this is a writers’ note, not a writer’s note, after all.
Megan Cooper on Ghost in the Kitchen (Week 1)
Ghosts in pop culture are rarely about the dead. Whether it’s Swayze protecting his wife from beyond the grave or Winona Ryder’s teen outcast finding acceptance through the recently deceased couple in her house, their appearance is made meaningful only through the living and having lived themselves. In life, the estate agent in Erika’s kitchen couldn’t sell the house he now haunts. Not spooked by this distinctly new and unthreatening spectre – but confronted with a supernatural, illogical and immovable force nonetheless – single mum Erika takes a seat to assess what this apparition means for her and her family. Thalia Agoglossakis captures in a nuanced way a mind tripping over itself and unravelling as it contends with its responsibilities and roles.
Jeff Dunne on Cancellations (Week 1)
Cancellations was conceived following a conversation about the variety of reactions theatres have given as a consequence of the mind-boggling societal stressors of 2020. While no organizations (that I know of, at least) have been as outright absurd as the monologue’s fictitious ‘Transition Theater’, the financial and social pressures of the year have certainly resulted in a display of many organizations’ ‘true colours’ and priorities. Cancellations takes the situation into the absurd, deliberately over-accentuating the negative for a laugh. It is worth noting explicitly, however, that the overwhelming majority of theatre (again, at least that I know of) have demonstrated inspiring levels of compassion and support for their communities, putting in Herculean efforts to ensure that their membership and extended families are being taken care of during these trying times. In other words, this piece is really just a bit of fun, and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.
Ryan King on Until Break Time (Week 2)
Until Break Time is a very serious monologue, but the initial idea came from a silly place. Towards the start of lockdown, I found a theatre company that was looking for monologues with the theme ‘isolation’. Even early on in lockdown, the theme of isolation was becoming tired. That is not to criticise any isolation content, but there was so much of it that I knew it would be hard to stand out. Instead of finding a new way of looking at the feeling of isolation, I deliberately misinterpreted the word. I wrote a monologue about a kid in isolation – as in, the school punishment. My story is about how this kid got there: the specific incident and the background to it.
Gregory Vines on 100 Calls a Week (Week 3)-
The original idea for the monologue came from an article on Brexit in 2017. The article highlighted how so many services for vulnerable women – in Britain would be affected by leaving the EU. Those running such services – initiatives for women and those affected by family violence – predicted that, while these services would be lost, the need for them would remain as prevalent as ever. They also forecast that the drive for improved policies and laws would lose prominence. 100 Calls a Week looks at the continual hunt of leading women’s services for funding and demonstrates the worth and value of such vital and often lifesaving services.
Jacob Freda on Posho (Week 4)
This monologue is told from the perspective of a self-confessed ‘posho’, an individual whose biggest hardship in life was the month he had to work weekends at a Tesco Express (his dad made him do it). He recalls with guilt a recent incident in which he acted like “a bit of an arsehole”, and for once in his life is forced to imagine his actions from someone else’s perspective. Whether this will trigger any real change within him remains to be seen…
Issy Flower on Burial Ground (Week 4)
Burial Ground explores the aftermath of what you see on the news: what happens when someone you love does something unthinkable, and the whole world knows it. Particular inspirations include Dennis Nielsen’s house, which is now occupied despite its grisly history. Who sold it? How did they sell it? And why buy it? I haven’t answered any of these questions, but hopefully the despair and hope following a personal tragedy is clear.
Saniya Saraf on Pinar (Week 5)
Pinar Gültekin’s murder stood testament to a phenomenon that is revoltingly intrinsic to the culture of my country. Beaten, strangled and burnt, her body was recovered days later in a forested area in the Yerkesik neighbourhood. It was later found to be a married man who in a fit of rage decided the price to pay for romantic refusal was bodily massacre.
Needless to say, when my social media started flooding with pictures of women in black and white, it felt insufficient and scanty. Another woman lost at the hand of a whim. Protest filled the streets yet the ordeal felt familiar and repetitive – her story represents a far deeper-rooted cultural detriment.
For context, please read this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jul/23/turkey-outrage-rising-violence-against-women
The first episode of the Purple on Toast Podcast will be available on Spotify under Purple Radio Drama during week one, with the following episodes being released weekly. Check out Buttered Toast’s Facebook page for more details.