Writer, from paper backs, by Tristan B Willis


I had a dream.
I might’ve been awake.
You stood on a dock
overlooking the ocean.
I could see you
weighing the water
and I was terrified you would step
into the waves and let the seaweed
embrace you until your lungs forgot
the taste of air, until your skin matched
the lapping tide and your eyes and my fear.

I tried to drag you back
but my fingers passed
through and I knew
I should find help
but I didn’t want
to leave you
to jump alone.

PLAYWRIGHT: Tristan B Willis

CONTEXT: From the play paper backs. A scholar and artist navigate their passion for their art and each other while stuck in a relationship that continuously cycles back to the beginning. Both characters are race and gender neutral.

WEBSITE: https://www.tristanbwillis.com

NPX:  https://newplayexchange.org/users/8583/tristan-b-willis


Prologue, from Henry V, by William Shakespeare

PROLOGUE – Henry V by William Shakespeare (Act I, Scene I)

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide on man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.

Monologue curated by Classical Monologue Dramaturg, Rory Starkman.

Dramaturg Notes: This speech opens the play of Henry V by William Shakespeare. Though Shakespeare wrote roles intended for females, historically all of the roles in Shakespeare’s plays have been performed by men/AMAB people (assigned male at birth). Typically, Shakespeare’s Chorus roles are not indicative of a specific gender and are suitable audition pieces and roles for non-binary actors. This speech sets the tone for the play by describing the greatness of the content the audience is about to witness; the war between England and France. However, the Chorus here begs for the audience to lend their imagination to the piece since, after all, this is a play within a theatre as opposed to the great battle and story which the players are attempting to re-enact.


Alex, from The 1st Annual Head-Shaving Olympics, by Sam Mauceri

ALEX. (they/them) Um, body-wise I don’t really feel any dysphoria. I mean, every now and then I’ll feel this weird separation from specific parts of my body, but usually I’m just more frustrated with how the rest of the world interprets my body. Like, the social aspect of it is where I feel dysphoria. I feel not like myself almost every time I’m “maam’ed” or “Miss’ed”. Every time a dude shouts at me on the street, because I know he’s harassing me because he thinks I’m a lady. Every time I’m in the doctor’s office and they call me by my full birth name, because I haven’t had the energy to change it. Every time I resign myself to not looking harder for a gender neutral bathroom. Every time I’m walking around and existing and knowing what people think they’re seeing, but knowing that they’re wrong, but also knowing that there’s no good way to tell them.

Context: This monologue is from the 20-minute comedy The 1st Annual Head-Shaving Olympics. Alex is a non-binary person who is comfortable with their femininity, but sick of being misgendered as a woman. In an attempt to become more visible, they decide to shave their head and imagine themself training for the Head-Shaving Olympics. In this monologue, Alex is at the Non-Binary Qualifiers, trying to convince the judges that they are non-binary enough.

More information: 
New Play Exchange: https://newplayexchange.org/users/16881/sam-mauceri

Chebutykin, from Three Sisters

From Three Sisters (1900) by Anton Chekhov (as translated by Elisaveta Fen):


[Chebutykin enters; walking firmly and soberly they crosses the room, stops, looks round, then goes to the wash-stand and begins to wash their* hands]

The devil take them all… all the lot of them! They think I can treat anything just because I’m a doctor, but I know positively nothing at all. I’ve forgotten everything I used to know. I remember nothing, positively nothing… The devil take them! Last Wednesday I attended a woman at Zasyp. She died, and it’s all my fault that she did die. Yes… I used to know a thing or two twenty five years ago, but now I don’t remember anything. Not a thing! Perhaps I’m not a man at all, but I just imagine that I’ve got hands and feet and a head. Perhaps I don’t exist at all, and I only imagine that I’m walking about and eating and sleeping. [Weeps.] Oh, if only I could simply stop existing! [Stops crying, glumly.] God knows… The other day they were talking about Shakespeare and Voltaire at the club. … I haven’t read either, never read a single line of either, but I tried to make out by my expression that I had. The others did the same. How petty it all is! How despicable! And then suddenly I thought of the woman I killed on Wednesday. It all came back to me, and I felt such a swine, so sick of myself that I went and got drunk…

Context: *Chebutykin is traditionally cast as ‘male’. He is a 60-year-old army doctor. This moment occurs after the other characters talk of how he is “hopelessly drunk… as if he’d done it on purpose”.

Monologue curated by Classical Monologue Dramaturg, Rory Starkman.

DRAMATURG NOTES (from all three pieces):

Though all three of these characters are traditionally cast as ‘male’, nothing in these monologues indicate that they need to be male. Each monologue reads as a philosophical soliloquy, and though traditionally it has always been males who were thought to philosophize (and even still there is a disparity within university philosophy departments, which tend to be overrun with people assigned male at birth), the ability to think out loud and express one’s thoughts and emotions is not a gendered aspect of living. In de-gendering/un-gendering these monologues from 1900, the idea of philosophical thought in performance can move further out of the male realm and into a more non-binary theatrical space.


Burbank, from A Singular They, by Aliza Goldstein

BURBANK. I step into the shed and he’s already there. “Well, hi,” he says, and I say, “Well, hi.” He doesn’t kiss me. He doesn’t touch me. He says: “Take off your shirt.” I do. He stares, and I feel cold. He says, “Wow, your chest looks like a boy’s,” and I say, “Is that okay?” And he says “I kind of like it.” He takes off his pants but leaves his sweater on. His underwear is purple, with white trim and a white waistband. He is staring at my shoes. I step on the backs to take them off. My corduroys hit the ground. There is floral print on my granny panties and I wish I’d worn a different pair. He touches me for the first time, hands on my arms to lay me down on some plastic patio furniture, a cheap Adirondack lounge chair. I feel every bump in the fake wood grain. I kind of want him to kiss me but he doesn’t. “Is everything okay?” he asks, and I lie and say, “yes,” and unclench my hand from around the condom. Trojan. Ribbed for her pleasure. He slides the waistband of his underwear down below his penis and strokes it like a lover – I wish he’d touch me like that instead. I open the condom and he shows me how to put it on him and I think maybe he’ll kiss me now, but he doesn’t. Instead he takes off my underwear and says – “I’ve never been with a girl who doesn’t shave before.” And he spreads my legs, and he stares, and I worry that he’ll be grossed out. Then he says – “Okay.” And I say “Okay,” but I’m not sure anymore, but I remember what Dierdre said and I have to do it. I want him to touch me somehow, but he still doesn’t. Instead he lowers his weight onto me, uses one hand to position himself, and I think about what I want that hand to do but he doesn’t keep it there, he puts it back on the arm of the chair. Then it’s shove-

(Burbank gasps.)

And then a harder shove. Two more times. Then he pulls out, and asks – “Can I stick it in your ass?”


I say no. I get dressed. I look at my phone. Twelve zero five. Happy fucking new year. He goes inside and tells his girlfriend he thinks he’s gay.

Context: From the full-length A Singular They. Monologue occurs around halfway into the play. Burbank’s best friend has arranged for Burbank to lose their virginity with a classmate at a New Year’s party, on the assumption that getting laid will cure Burbank’s teen angst.

More information: leezagoldstein (at) gmail (dot) com