At the Woodstock Writers’ Festival this past weekend, I participated in a workshop on “page to stage,” led by two of the founding members of T.M.I. (Too Much Information) out of New York. This is a group of three women who have started a monologue troupe where they, as well as others who join them, perform shows based on original work they write and turn into performance pieces. They also conduct workshops throughout the year.
I’ve asked them to come to Boston, where I know of nothing like T.M.I., so I’m putting it out there – Does anyone know of any venues where these women could put on a show or hold a workshop? I’m hoping they will have some weekend workshops in New York so I can learn more and get better at this. I want to do what they do. I want this to be my retirement career.
Below I will post the first part of a brief monologue I wrote during the workshop. You need to imagine me not just reading the piece out loud, but “performing” it. Beyond just a good reading, monologue demands that I become a character in my own work. Ideally, one generates new work or takes part of a story from an essay and adapts it for performance. Usually, the truer and more personal the story, the more you will connect with your audience.
So here it is, “Dorito in a Dish.” Remember, it’s a first draft, so be kind.
I don’t tell my family that I’m gay, or in the language of my 1980s coming out, I don’t say, “I’m a lesbian.” My mom is 82 and lives with me. Over the years she’s seen woman after woman exit my bedroom, bumped into them on the way to the bathroom – there’s just a small foyer between rooms – and her usual response is, “Good morning X, would you like some breakfast?”
My mother has lived with me for years, and over the last decade, I’ve become her caretaker. She grew up an only child and in her old age she reverts to only child.
“Eat over a plate!” I tell her as her bedroom becomes laced with Doritos crumbs. “This is why we have mice.”
She looks at me with her mouth half open.
Did she hear me? I never know if she hears me.
“DID YOU HEAR ME?”
“Yes, I heard.”
“Well, could you say something because otherwise I can’t tell if you heard or not.”
She says nothing. She also never uses a plate. The crumbs gather around and under her bed. I can’t vacuum under the bed because she’s piled a lifetime of cheap framed artwork she bought at Marshall’s. Timmy, my boy cat, keeps catching mice who find her crumbs.
Sometimes, I want to threaten her, like this: If you can’t put a fucking Dorito in a dish while you sit up here watching TV, maybe I should put you in a home.
But I keep it to myself. At least she’s not drinking anymore, and I’m not picking her up off the floor.
And all these girls she’s seen leave my bedroom, and all she’s ever done is graciously offer them breakfast.
I’ve never said to her, “I’m a lesbian,” but how could she not know? At this point in my life – I turn 50 next Friday – I’d have to say, “I’m kind of a failed lesbian because I’m 50 and still on my own. I’m still on my own in part because I take care of you, my kind, gracious, former drunken mother.”
A whirlwind of women and in the end, I’m married to her.
She’s home right now while I’m in New York. She’s eating Ruffles Chips in her bed. Timmy is looking for mice.
“Mom, I’m a lesbian.”
I can only say this to you when I’m 200 miles away in New York, halfway up a mountain, in some stranger’s house in the Catskills.
The women I work-shopped with were fabulous and the workshop leaders were amazing. You can find performances by the workshop leaders on YouTube. Here are two links to get you started: