School Bus, by Erin Rollman

(written for a genderqueer performer) When I was in junior high, I lived only a block and a half away from school. It took minutes to get there, cut even shorter if I ducked through a hole in the fence and walked right across the small field next to the school building. But every morning I would leave home far earlier than necessary and walk 15 or so blocks in the opposite direction to catch a big yellow school bus. It seems silly to say now, but I did it in an attempt to be normal. I know, I know, but hear me out:

So many kids rode the bus. So many kids complained about riding the bus. It was a part of junior high culture and I was missing out because of the location location location of my home. I mean, I’m sure the proximity to a school is part of the reason my parents got the place. But, each morning I walked in the wrong direction in order to complain about my subsequent bus ride. And each afternoon I rushed out of the building in time to jump on the bus – unable to participate in this after school activity or that one, sometimes dashing out mid-conversation with an “ugh, bus”.

Needless to say, this did not make me ‘normal’. All it did was make my life more difficult. Of course, this should come as no surprise. Normal things – a nerve-wracking phrase, despite or maybe because of its lack of meaning – normal things are always wildly difficult. Isn’t it the case that you never feel more outside of yourself than when you are doing something you think you are supposed to do? Doing normal things is like playing a massive life-encompassing game of follow-the-leader when nobody knows who the leader is – their just sure it isn’t them.

Beat

Here are some other phrases I find nerve-wracking, only some of which have meaning:
fiscal responsibility
hang in there
life choice
truly humbling experience
crystal clear
not an exit
identifies as
and criss cross applesauce … Well, that one’s not nerve-wracking if you really just want me to sit down cross-legged. But if it comes with the assumption that I will be squirm-free and attentive, we might have a problem.

Beat

It actually gives me a little thrill that my young attempt to be normal was, in fact, very, very not normal. I don’t often ride buses at all these days. I sure as hell won’t walk out of my way to hop on an unnecessary one…

I mean that both literally and metaphorically, in case that wasn’t crystal clear.

More info: Erin Rollman is an all-around theatrical badass and incredible human. Learn more about her theatrical work at https://buntport.com/

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

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Candy Heart, by Woodzick

WRENN (they/them, AFAB).

I’m writing this because I’m on the plane and the guy next to me is watching a documentary about Hitler and I honestly don’t know his intentions behind watching it. So, in case I die while on or getting off this flight, I wanted you to read this. I don’t know if I would be able to say any of this in person.

I get that you’re a gay guy. And I guess the thing is that on the inside I’ve always felt like I was a gay guy, too. Gay men are always the people I have been attracted to the most. The ones who break my heart the most. The “oh, if I were straight, I’d totally date you, but I’m not straight, and so….”

I am painfully aware that my outside doesn’t always match my inside, and I don’t know if it ever will in that way. I like the me I’ve become, not a man and definitely not a woman, but instead something that is both and neither at the same time.

The thing is, my heart is on the inside and my heart thinks it could be, would really like to try being with your heart and, I know, I know have the tendency to be naive and idealistic, but on some, basic, human level, isn’t that the only thing that should matter?

So here I am, in front of you, asking you if you think you could be with someone like me. Or try?

I hate being vulnerable and I hate that I keep trying at this and people either hook up with me and tell me it was a mistake or they tell me I’m a mistake and they just don’t think they could ever picture themselves being with someone like me.

I think my heart can only survive so many more of these conversations.

It takes a lot for me to be saying this to you. And, sincerely, I’m not trying to force a certain answer. I just wanted you to know that—this is not something I share lightly. It’s not something I do often.

But I’m doing it because I think you might just be worth it and it’s OK if you’re not. And it’s OK if you don’t think of me that way.

But it’s really rare that I feel this way about somebody, so I just had to try.

 

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Blue, from The Finality of Tits, by Avery Kester

BLUE. A friend once told me a joke and it was that dating when you’re queer is like looking for a job, you either do it online or you get referred. Pause now for laughter. Like a job too, people always seem to think there are partners everywhere just waiting for you to come and claim them, and when you don’t have one, all of your friends and relatives start telling you about a local place that’s hiring. My long resume doesn’t help me in the dating world, I’ll tell you what. So I have an account on Tinder. And OKCupid, they’re kind of the best ones to be queer on. Kind of messed up really. I’ve still gotten a lot of hurtful messages about how my gender is fake and I’m a liar and an attention whore. But what I’m trying to tell you isn’t really about that, it’s about what are called unicorn hunters. You’ve never heard of them? Unicorn hunters? What is this, dragons and dungeons? Well not quite my friend. Unicorn hunters are straight couples looking for a bisexual woman to join their existing relationship. She has to be into the same kinds of things as they are, but also have her own interests. She must be open to having sex with them, both of them, whenever they see fit. She must want more connection than just sex but also understand her place as an outsider to the relationship. Usually she must also be the picture of femininity and trans girls need not apply. She, like unicorns, doesn’t exist. Which is why they’re called unicorn hunters and not famed unicorn prize catchers. I am not a unicorn for many reasons, but chiefly because I am not a woman. Not a woman. Hello yes it’s me, genderqueer with tits, but distinctly not a woman. Look at me in this suit. This is a man’s suit. Look at me with my haircut. This is a trademarked genderqueer haircut. Really more of a zebra than a unicorn. Real but flighty and introverted. I know about the finality of tits. I understand that because I have them, everyone everywhere will always assume that I am a woman. I can’t afford to lose them anymore than I can afford to keep them, surgery is expensive. I think about cutting them off myself sometimes, when it gets really bad. But I’ll tell you, there is not much is this world that makes me feel as terrible as when I receive a message from a pair of straight folks looking for a unicorn. “Hey there cutie! My hubby and I are looking for a fun loving girl to join us in the bedroom!” Or “My boyfriend says you’re one of the prettiest girls he’s ever seen! Can we take you to lunch?” I am not a woman. I am not a girl. I…. I’m… not a girl. And I work hard at that okay? I have manufactured this look, this walk, this manner of speaking. I know what I’m about and it’s distinctly between the binary. But even though I spell that out in the 500 character about me section on Tinder, they still say things like that to me. I spend so much time hating my body and wishing that it would fuck off. I don’t need the arrows of unicorn hunters to help me with that.

More info: Please contact the playwright Avery Kester (They/Them) at the following email address: averypkester (at) gmail (dot) com.

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Alex, by Jamie Zeske

Alex (any female or gender neutral pronouns):

I know what you want me to say, about coming out: the secret shame, the “It Gets Better,” the well-adjusted gay adult embracing marriage equality, but that’s not me. That’s not how it happened. My coming out wasn’t this all-in-one, family dinner, Facebook post I could just get it over with all at once, it’s a lifelong process. Starting back in elementary school with jerks (“You’re a faggot”) and my friends (“Everyone thinks I’m gay just cuz I’m friends with you”) and my Junior High boyfriend (“Everyone knows about you, and if everyone knows about you they’ll know about me, and if they know about me I’ll never talk to you again, I’ll hate you, I’ll hurt you.”) And then in High School, my Drama teachers (“Bisexuality is a lie! It’s a phase, pick a lane!”) I never felt shame for who I was or who I wanted to be with, but shame was planted inside of me. All I knew is I liked people, and hugging and laughing, and sharing secrets at sleepovers. But shame was planted in me and so I carried it around. I carried it through trying out for cheer leading and, “Why are you friends with only girls?” and getting my head slammed into tile and knocking out my two front teeth on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. And so I carried it. And then I started to find words that made a bit more sense to me, like “transgender” and “genderqueer” and “woman trapped in a man’s body,” except I’m not trapped in a man’s body, I’m trapped in a man’s role. So I came out, again in 2012 to my family, my friends, my co-workers. They all know I’m a girl. Everyone knows I’m a girl but still all day, every day, I have to come out. To gas station clerks, to customers, to Lyft drivers, to therapists, to Grindr hookups, to the lawyer for my DWI case. Everyone knows I’m a girl, or “that I think I’m a girl,” but still, all day, every day, I get a lot of “sir”s and “bro”s…being treated as a man even though I’m a woman, even I begin to question it, it gets in my head. The shame and doubt are planted too. So I have to look at myself, and come out to myself: as a queer, as a woman, of someone worthy of love, as someone with a lot of love to give. And when I do that, it gets better.

Context about the monologue: This is an original stand-alone monologue from a video project.

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Cam, from Women March on Washington by Christine Kallman

Spring 2016. Early morning. We are in a hilly and wooded area in Northeast Iowa.
CAM (they/them) is dressed in outdoor wear with a backpack. They hear a low drumming sound.

 

CAM. Do you hear that?
Pause. CAM hears the low drumming sound again.
Ruffed Grouse. [beat] You won’t see them. They’re hiding in the deep brush. This tract — this hardwood forest— was saved from tilling because of the steep slopes and rocky soil. Perfect for grouse. And probably forty other species of birds.
Look! See the hawk? Red-tailed hawk. And those over there— turkey vultures.
This is what I love about my job.
Out here I always feel totally content.
I suppose I should be afraid, although I’ve never had anyone follow me out here.
I’ve been threatened, you know. Followed at night.
More times than you can imagine.
Pause. CAM listens and hears the grouse again.
We hear it in springtime. The male grouse make the sound by rotating their wings.
In some species, behavior is not so gender-specific. Birds, butterflies, a lot of insects
have both male and female characteristics. But I’m not going to try to make a lot of arguments comparing human and animal behavior. I used to do that.
Used to have detailed arguments. But you know,
people are just going to believe what they want to believe.

I don’t bring people here, generally.
I don’t want to expose this delicate environment to a lot of traffic.
I do bring my students here. This summer we sampled twelve streams
to measure aquatic diversity. Here’s what we found:
Streams like the one here— that have more diversity of life—
they’re healthier and better able to overcome stressors, like drought.
CAM starts down the hill.
Watch your step. I’ll take you down now. Down to the spring.
CAM walks down, then stops next to a stream. The gentle rush of water.
Always, when I’m out in nature, the— agony—
about who other people think I am—
just—
disappears.
Am I a woman? Am I a man?
On the street, in the grocery store, with a student. At a party. They’re looking at me funny.
They want to categorize me. It makes them so uncomfortable not to know.
What to do with me?
And I could say, well, I was designated female at birth.
But I don’t feel like a woman. Never have.
On the other hand, I don’t feel like a man either. It doesn’t fit for me.
Since it’s closer, I do generally present more like a man.
But I don’t want to be a man. I don’t want surgery
and I don’t want to give up the feminine parts of myself.
It’s funny. As a scientist, I’m always placing things in categories.
And I could tell you all about the way scientists are looking at gender
on a spectrum now— not just two choices.

But mainly, I want to make the point that
we are too quick to categorize people. Not just on gender,
but on a whole gamut
of characteristics. There is something really screwed up
about the way we put people in boxes.
Listen. People are not who you think they are.
Not a single one.
You think you’ve got someone pegged?
You don’t.
People are not what they seem.
And even if you could figure them out,
they’re like this stream. They’re always changing.
Being fed by something deep underground.
Pause. CAM puts their hand in the stream.
Personally, I find that refreshing.

 

More info: Character name is Cam (they/them). The scene is roughly in the middle of a full-length play (in development) entitled Women March on Washington. It received a reading this spring in Northfield, MN, with actors of diverse age, race and gender.

Playwright: Christine Kallman. I can be reached at my website, christinekallman.com.

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

>>Donate to the non-binary monologues project here

Azul, from Gender of Attraction by Chris Rivera

Azul. Maybe that’s true, but for dating? I don’t want someone in love with half of me. So if I went out and found myself a gay boy, half the time he wouldn’t want me. Or he would think I was playing dress up. And if I meet guys while looking like I did last night, they want a woman. Mitch… the guy from last night… Mitch, he probably wants a cis woman. I made him leave so he didn’t see me once the makeup started to wear off. He wanted to stay, but… he was respectful about it. God you’re right. I’m never gonna see him again. (Rosa: You might! You never know) You know, There are sometimes I wonder if I actually would transition. I wonder if I’m not genderfluid, if I’m just a woman. I wonder if I’m just scared because I’m afraid no one will ever love me again. Or… Rosa, seriously, I don’t know a single trans woman who hasn’t been in a seriously abusive relationship. These guys… I feel like there are more and more people who are okay with people being trans, and gender nonconforming, they are okay with the fact that we exist. But people are disgusted by men who love us. There are guys who will watch trans women in porn, but the few brave enough to date a trans woman are so shunned, and questioned. So many become closeted about their relationships and self-hating, and guess who it usually gets taken out on. So many more trans women than cis women are killed by their partner. In the first two months of this year, six trans women were murdered. I just… sorry, that was a really long- winded way to say it’s not easier for me. And a lot of other people have it harder than me.

Azul. This was really shitty and messed up of us…of me. And you should be mad. And the only defense I have…is just another reason we shouldn’t be together. I really like you. But I can’t trust you. And that is my fault, not yours. It feels great when we are together, but then I think about things and freak out. I worry part of you is fetishizing me and you are something of a tranny chaser, and I worry that if we really tried to seriously date that you’ll eventually want to be with a cis woman and have the whole kids-and-suburban-life thing. I worry that you don’t understand me, or that you’ll always be ashamed with me, that people will shame you and question you like they have me. But I can’t walk away from who I am, and you can walk away from me. I worry I will lose my heart to you and I’ll end up crushed. I worry that I have already started to, and that is crazy, I know I have known you for like three days and I’m acting this neurotic. And that is completely unfair drama that no one should be dating. You shouldn’t date me. I’m quite obviously a mess. And… you should just run before my mess becomes contagious.

Context: Gender of Attraction is a romantic comedy that puts the spotlight on genderqueer and trans relationships. Azul, a gender non-conforming drag performer meets straight identifying Mitch. They fall for each other, but Azul worries the relationship progressing is impossible. Azul speaks to their best friend Rosa about their fears after hooking up with Mitch. Those fears are later confessed to Mitch in the final scene of the play, after Rosa and Azul have put Mitch through an uncomfortable “test” to see if his intentions are good.

For more information on playwright go to www.theactingchrisrivera.com

on Azul’s pronouns, I will give you their own words on the matter.

“And… my personal feelings about pronouns… towards me is… if I’m obviously presenting as a woman, say “she”. If I’m obviously presenting male, use “he” unless you’re gay and being sassy. If I’m presenting somewhere in between… use whatever. They, he, she. But that’s just me.”

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Of the Dark, by Tzula Propp

I remember the dark, it was the first thing there.

You think dark is smooth, but I know better. There are shapes, textures in the dark. In time, you would see them too.

The shapes gave me a boundary, the textures taught me to feel. There were silent voices in the dark, they showed me how to be.

It was like this for a long time. And it wasn’t bad, it was just all that was, all I knew.

But I knew one thing else, that this, it wasn’t me, wasn’t all that could be. Resist the dark, I told myself. Don’t let it in! Shut it out! I belong, just not here. I can be my own light!

Silent voices in the dark pleaded back at me, “Don’t go! Please, stay here, with me.”

But the silent voices needn’t have spoke, my struggle was as hopeless as an ocean wave, fighting to leave the sea. There was no direction that led away from the dark. I swirled and stormed against the only border, my border. Like the wave, I was smashed and renewed and smashed and renewed, inescapably. During that time, I became less of my form, and more of my forming—my boundary expanded. I was my escape, my prison, my home, my storm, my struggle, my voice, my dark, me.

All throughout, I expected mocking from the dark. But the silent voices understood, they were even sympathetic. This was just how it had to be, always. No one belonged anywhere, it would be death.

And this is how it stayed. My storm petered out, and again I was of the dark. I was rejoined with the walls of my prison, the first battleground of my rebellion, enveloping me like a lead blanket. And in time, I forgot why I had tried so hard to leave…

I was comfortable in the dark, and then, my eyes fluttered open, and there was light.

——————————

Playwright: Tzula Propp

Context: This piece has three major inspirations, which are also three different interpretations of the character.

The first inspiration is Brocksandra, a canonically trans character I created for a game of Dungeons and Dragons. She came to life for me more than I meant her to, I find myself returning to her often. She is a tragic outcast from a world of shadows who, despite her bardly demeanor, is deeply incompatible with the world of light around her (she is a Drow, if that means anything to you). I imagine her performing, taking on the role of Najm, the androgynous (and in my interpretation, non-binary) goddex of curiosity. The story is of Najm’s birth from the primordial chaos and rejection of nothingness, but has been made autobiographical in Brocksandra’s telling.

The second is the question, “What is a photon before it leaves an atom?” This question is one without a unique interpretation, and here I give mine.

The last inspiration is the adolescent experience of a non-binary child in a darkly and deeply repressive society. The omnipresent struggle, internalized, is the subject. The final self-coming out happens unexpectedly, following the deepest repressive phase they’ve ever experienced, almost forgetting who they are.

Note regarding the last line: in my original conception, it evoked a sense of divinely tragic irony, somewhere between almost-hope, loss of safety, and being lost. But now I’m not so sure, and encourage individual interpretation.

Contact: Tzula Propp is a grad student at the University of Oregon, where they study quantum information theory. They can be reached at spropp (at) uoregon (dot) edu

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Woodzick, from Trans/Actions, by K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan

WOODZICK (they/them/theirs). I’ve always hated the term, “workaholic”. As if it was so bad to bring my work home with me. Or if there was something wrong with knowing what I want and doing what I have to in order to get there. When you love what you do, you have an intimacy with your craft. There is something sacred in the process and there is something holy about making your bed in your work and being committed to lying in it.

There are some days when I choose not to leave the apartment. Because if I don’t leave the apartment, I won’t get misgendered. My roommate isn’t going to do it, and her dog isn’t going to do it, and her boyfriend knows that he will get in trouble if he does it.

But then I remember what brings me home in the first place. It’s not always turning a key; sometimes it’s the audition room in itself, a callback without fear, a promise from a director. I have loved theatre for over twenty five years, since I saw Music Man and set up chairs in my living room to mimic a train. Home is made up of all the things we love the longest, isn’t it? And isn’t it also the place we hurt the most? The place that scars us as much as it loves us?

Theatre is an industry that is still very entrenched in the gender binary. There are male and female dressing rooms, character breakdowns that clearly read male and female, and you are told at an early age as an actor what your type is, in male and female terms.

When I was thirty one, I was cast in a production of The 39 Steps, where I played over sixteen male roles. And though I had played male roles before, it no longer felt like drag to me–instead, it was an extension of my gender identity. During that production, because of that production, I changed my pronouns from she, her, and hers to they, them and theirs. I lost friends because of it. I lost work because of it. It is the single hardest and best decision I have ever made.

Playwrights: K. Woodzick and Ayla Sullivan

Context: This monologue happens in the first scene of the play. Woodzick is reflecting on their relationship to gender and theatre

Website: www.woodzick.com

Contact: nonbinarymonologues (at) gmail (dot) com

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Viola, from Twelfth Night, by William Shakespeare

VIOLA: I left no ring with her. What means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charmed her.
She made good view of me; indeed, so much
That, as methought, her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me sure; the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.
None of my lord’s ring? Why, he sent her none.
I am the man. If it be so, as ’tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
Disguise, I see thou art a wickedness
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we,
For such as we are made of, such we be.
How will this fadge? My master loves her dearly;
And I (poor monster) fond as much on him;
And she (mistaken) seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master’s love.
As I am woman (now alas the day!),
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe?
O Time, thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me t’ untie.

 

Dramaturg Notes:

In this speech from Twelfth Night, the traditionally female character Viola is dressed in male drag so that she may work for the Duke of Illyria after her brother was possibly lost in a shipwreck. For non-binary actors, this speech could be taken in a variety of ways, as Viola consistently refers to themselves as a “man” and as a “woman”. Due to this consistent confounding of gender, this role could be played by non-binary AFAB or AMAB people (assigned-female-at-birth or assigned-male-at-birth, respectively). In doing so, the implications of particular relations within this speech could be complicated with respect to gender and sexuality. In the play, Viola is a woman dressed in male drag who develops feeling for the male Duke she serves, while Olivia (the Duke’s love interest) develops feelings for Viola. The possibilities for queering this speech are endless. As this a speech to themselves, there are possibilities to address gender, sexuality, and attraction from the outside, but also from within the character themselves; bringing attention to possible dysphoria or dissonance within Viola. Depending on the individual choices, any non-binary actor could use this piece as an active resistance to the hetero- and cis-normativity which are ever-present within Shakespeare’s work.

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!

Pasquale, from Couples Costume, by Sam Mauceri

PASQUALE (they/them). If you don’t end this relationship now, you’re going to get trapped in the Holiday Barricade. Think about it. Right now it’s October and you’re committed to a couples costume. Once the planning happens, there’s no way to bust out of that one without looking like a complete jerkwad. Think you’re free after that? Nope! Then it’s Thanksgiving, when you’ll have to meet the parents. Next is Christmas-slash-Hanukkah-slash-Kwanzaa. You’re going to buy each other gifts and you have no way of knowing if they’ve already gotten you a gift so you CAN’T break up. Then it’s New Year’s Eve and who have you made plans to smooch when the ball drops? Dominique. Next you run up against Valentine’s Day which has the same gift conundrum as your preferred winter holiday. There is simply no way out before that one. It’s either now or February 15th.

Context: This monologue is from the 10-minute comedy Couples Costume, which features 4 non-binary teenage characters. Pasquale is trying to help their friend Charlie rally the courage to end their relationship with Dominique.
More information: 

Donate! Your donations keep The Non-Binary Monologues Project going. We are pleased to announce that we have been selected as an Incubated Artist through Headlong. This means that your donations are now tax-deductible!

Donating is easy. >>Visit this link. Make sure to mention The Non-Binary Monologues Project in the notes section of the form, and you’re all set!