Paul T Davies reviews Hear Me Now – Audition Monologues for Actors of Colour published by Oberon Books.
Hear Me Now. Audition Monologues for Actors of Colour.
Titilola Dawudu in partnership with Tamasha Theatre Company.
Publisher: Oberon Books.
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Timely and relevant, this collection of monologues has been developed with actors of colour working with writers of colour. Titilola Dawudu, after mentoring black, mainly female, theatre makers for years, was painfully aware that there were limited contemporary monologues for actors of colour. Working with Tamasha, the result was a series of workshops that has led to the collection brought together here. Before we even get to the monologues, there is an excellent Hear Me Now Session plan, so that actors and writers can run their own workshops, with a detailed template for a character sheet that fleshes out the back story of a character that may only have 3 minutes to impress an audition panel.
The result is a vibrant, wide ranging collection of monologues for BAME actors, speeches that reflect concerns and attitudes of today, and tackles community and societal pressures. Acting Up is a beautiful monologue about the influence a teacher has over a boy who loves acting, and this is reflected nicely in Kick Off/Bake Off, exploring the conflict in a young man who loves football and baking equally. Choices finds a young man trying to find solace with his boyfriend’s family after his mother refuses to accept his sexuality, and Dateception features an Imam at a speed dating event, who reveals he loves wearing women’s clothing. Free is about a mother telling her son that she finally feels free when she falls in love with another woman, and finds an echo in Rekha, in which a woman is telling a father she has fallen in love with his daughter. Gold Dust is about an amateur boxer who discovers his coach is gay and whether he will allow this to ruin their relationship, and Maya is a short, beautiful monologue in which a mother records a message on her mobile phone to her son she gave up. We have the first black astronaut about to set foot on the moon in The Race, and Laddie features an Indian soldier, long dead, recounting his time in Wold War One, and this is based on a real historical figure. The Thin Red Line is a powerful speech in which a police officer is guilt ridden over the handling of disabled protesters, and Tits is about a young football player ready to tell her dad she doesn’t want to be a girl anymore.
The thing that shines out from this collection is ownership; they have been created and written from a place of urgency, to smash ethnic stereotypes and to reflect the society we live in now. If I would throw one note of caution, it’s that, percentage wise, not many speeches are for older actors, and ageism is another barrier that needs to be challenged! I can only highlight a fraction of the monologues, I enjoyed so many more, and it’s a terrific collection to dip into just as a reader. But for actors of colour, casting agents, directors, libraries in Universities and Drama Schools, this is an essential collection that, as diversity improves on our stages, will be seen as vital foundation for building that diversity.