The talent portion of Miss America is what makes this system unique. Not only talent prevalent in the judging criteria, but is the highest scored category; truly setting it apart from other beauty pageants. Typically, when we think of the talent competition we think of two talents: dancing and singing. Dancing might be split into jazz, ballet, and lyrical, and vocal may or may not include an instrument. Maybe the contestant will just play an instrument. But after we think of those two main talents, our mind drifts to theater performances: monologues. There are many different types of monologues, such dramatic monologues, musical theater monologues, and comedic monologues. Slam poetry, a form of spoken word, is also making an appearance in the local talent scent.
Although I never considered performing a monologue while I competed, I can respect those who are truly able to fall into character and take the audience into a new world through their words and actions. It is a true talent to be able to transport the audience into a scene. If I had a chance to perform a monologue, I would choose one of the following three pieces. They are all 90 second cuts of various plays and movies that carry a strong theme of female empowerment, albeit in very different ways, and give the speaker an opportunity to truly delve into the character and shine.
1: Play Silouette: A Cinderella Story
Author Brandhi Williams
Role Heidi Quinn
Actor Raeanna Russel (talking to herself, she has very few tears coming down her face)
Heidi, remember when you were Miss Confident, when what anyone said to you or about you didn’t matter? You wish you could go back to the days when popularity was only on T.V., and now look at you, you’re sitting in your room crying because Jason broke up with you right before the dance. You’re worried that everyone’s going to make fun of you for showing up without a date. You say that it doesn’t bother you and it doesn’t matter but it does, you told Jason everything, you dated since the seventh grade and now he dumps you Junior year, and the worst part, for someone else. And Amy has been your best friend since the fifth grade but Michel was more comforting about it. (wipes away her tears) What’s wrong with me, why am I crying like an idiot, I don’t need boys to be happy. I am going to go to that dance and show them that Heidi Quinn only has to be loved by three people in the world to be happy and that’s Me, Myself, and I. ‘Cause I don’t anybody else. And chances are Jason wasn’t right for me anyway. Because if he really loved me he wouldn’t break my heart. So I’m going to pick up the pieces of this broken heart and put it back together, because God has a plan for me, and I’m sure it’s not for me to be with Jason. So from this point on. I’m done (grabs her keys and exits)
I like this because the main character is discovering her self worth. A contestant needs to know that she is not a leading lady because of who she is dating, or who she is friends with– a strong, independent woman is such because she is strong enough to tell herself she is. The character develops within 90 seconds of talking to herself! There is an opportunity to personalize the piece to the contestant’s name, which is always neat as well, and doesn’t require props but has room to integrate them if she chooses.
2. Film Disturbia
Author Chris Landon
Actor Shia labeouf
I’ve seen a lot. I mean, not like that, not, I mean … (takes a breath) For instance, I’ve seen that you’re maybe one of, I don’t know, three people in the world that likes pizza-flavored chips. You’re also the only person I’ve ever seen that spends more time on the roof of her house than in her actual house. And what are you doing? You’re reading. Books. You know, not “US Weekly or “Seventeen”, or, you know… but you’re reading substantial books. You also do this, uh, … (scratches head, chuckles) You do this thing where, it’s like an OCD thing, but it’s not. It’s, um … Whenever you’re leaving your room, you grab the doorknob, you turn it and you’re getting ready to leave but you don’t, you stop and you back up and you turn to the mirror and you stare at yourself. But it’s not like a, you know, “I’m so hot” kind of stare. You know, it’s more like … “Who am I, really?” And to ask yourself that, I mean, that’s so cool. So you look out the window all the time like I do, only you’re looking at the world, you know? Tryin’ to figure it out, trying to understand the world. Trying to figure out why it’s not in order like your books. (long pause) I’m only looking at you.
Even though the speaker in this monologue is a male, that actually doesn’t matter. The content is describing the type of female that would make a great titleholder– a girl next door, literally; young adult who is adventurous, yet reserved, curious and hungry for worldly knowledge, and who is eager to make a difference but unsure how to take that first step. Competing in a local is the first step.
3. Film Sleeping Beauty
Author Joe Rinaldi
Actor Eleanor Audley
Oh come now, Prince Phillip. Why so melancholy? A wondrous future lies before you. You, the destined hero of a charming fairy tale come true. Behold, King Stefan’s castle, and in yonder topmost tower, dreaming of her true love, the princess Aurora. But see the gracious whim of fate. Why, ’tis the self same peasant maid, who won the heart of our noble prince but yesterday. She is indeed most wondrous fair. Gold of sunshine in her hair, lips that shame the red, red rose. In ageless sleep she finds repose. The years roll by, but a hundred years to a steadfast heart are ’bout a day. And now, the gates of the dungeon part, and the prince is free to go his way. Off he rides on his noble steed…a valiant figure, straight and tall, to wake his love with love’s first kiss, and prove that true love conquers all!
I love to give what is unexpected. It makes the contestant stand out. While Disney is often taboo in pageants, (actually, Disney isn’t always allowed at the Miss America national level, and some state levels, due to strict copyrighting laws) I think most of that comes from putting a titleholder in a “Disney Princess” box. Playing the role of the villain puts a spin on that preconceived notion that a titleholder is one-sided. I will probably never perform a monologue.
Perhaps I will recite an original speech at some point in my life, but a monologue… probably not. However, I love these and would love to see them performed at one point or another.