Three Minute Monologues
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Three Minute Monologues is a partnership project developed by The Warren Youth Project with Middle Child, where young people were given access to creative writing sessions in order to support good mental health. Then, their words were anonymised and given to scriptwriters to develop into monologues.
Watch the video below to find out about the project's process.
A List Of People Who Are More F*#%Kd Up Than Me - Written by Maureen Lennon
Performed by - Sophie Clay
Why depict violence in theatre? When should we do it? How should we do it? Is it a good or bad thing to do?
Truthfully those questions are too massive and I don’t feel equipped to answer them.
Certainly not in a blog post, if anyone would like to fund a PHD maybe I’ll give it a bash. I am
however going to talk briefly about its depiction in a short play I wrote for The Warren and
Middle Child Theatre’s project Three Minute Monologues, which was performed as part of a
showcase at Social this summer and is now being released as a filmed version-
The play is called A List of All The People More Fucked Than Me, warning SPOILERS ahead, so
if you’re reading this without watching the video I would suggest you do that first.
Three Minute Monologues was conceived as part of a unique process. The initial ideas for
the monologues came from the brilliant writing of young people The Warren had worked
with in workshops over the course of a year. This was then anonymised and handed over to
four writers (I was one) as a massive pack stuffed full of different voices, ideas and pieces.
We read through it and each decided what we were drawn to and what play we might
create from the work that already existed.
I was blown away by the voices showcased in the anthology, they were angry and singular
and dark but also very very funny. Lots of lines went verbatim into the ‘list’ my character
uses to self soothe in the piece. I really wanted to honour the clarity of vision and humour in
so much of the writing. I was also obsessed with a tiny, honest, moving piece someone had
written about their feelings in the wake of the overturning of Roe V Wade. ‘I would like to
storm the White House and make them listen’ it started. So would I, I thought. So would so
many of us. How could we make that happen? THEATRE that’s how.
So, in my piece, Molly, a teenage girl from Hull, storms the White House on a school trip and
holds hostage a group of pro-life Republicans who she has deviously assembled. For most of
the piece she is holding what we think is a gun, and a Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake. If
this is sounding mad then maybe go and watch it, to be honest it is.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel some trepidation when writing the piece. In the wake of
January 6 th I think we are all questioning what our responsibility is in political discourse. I did
think quite carefully about the choice to have Molly engage in the threat of violence. I was
worried about the responsibility of putting an action like that onstage, even if I agreed with
her motivations. But I was also worried about more practical concerns like how much cake
we could force a performer to eat in one night and whether they could they abseil in on a
happy birthday banner. So ultimately, I decided to commit.
That’s because I feel like theatre is the place to explore these stories. As a form it allows us
to push boundaries, act out situations that can be shocking and challenging and crucially not
bound with real world consequences. By putting something on stage we are not saying, this
is something that SHOULD happen in the real world, but we are allowing real feelings of
rage and hurt and disaffection to be heard.
Theatre also allows us to engage in telling complicated and nuanced stories because we
know people are going to be with them from beginning to end. Unlike the internet where
we skim past things, pause videos, read only headlines, in theatre you sit down and (unless
I’ve done my job really badly) you’re there to the bitter end. In this piece that means you
would definitely hear Molly tell her audience ‘I’m not the killer here, am I?’ as she reveals
her ‘gun’ has been a water pistol all along. Characters in theatre and their actions are not
blueprints for life, Molly does not have to be any one’s role model, but she is also totally
aware of context of violence in which she is operating. And she’s making a very clear point,
it’s not her we should be worried about.
It's telling that we only felt the need to write this blog once it was going to released online.
The idea that someone might take the time only to skim past, catch a glimpse of a teenage
girl pointing a gun and be appalled that Middle Child and The Warren were inciting teenage
girls to violent insurrection. The flattening of discourse that the online world often
encourages is the exact opposite (I hope) of what theatre allows for.
So what is it saying?
Why have the gun? What is doing? Is it really suggesting that all the problems of the world
might be solved if we gave teenage girls weapons?
I’m a bit loathe to over explain it, because, I hope, it’s there in the play in a much more
complex and nuanced way than I am going to manage here. And also, who am I to say? It
probably means different things to you than to me.
But, in the interests of transparency here are some things I was thinking about when writing
Ideas about what violence we accept in the world and who is allowed to perpetrate
it. The violence of the state as it exerts controls over women and girl’s bodies is seen
as legitimate. The violence of a teenage girl insisting she is listened to by men who
want to own her, is not.
The relationship between power and control and violence, and how that sits with the
existing structures of the world. Seeing a teenage girl holding up a room of powerful
politicians with a gun is different to seeing a man or teenage boy do the same. Why?
Because statistically, truthfully, women and girls are not the people who commit
mass or even individual acts of violence. They just aren’t. Froth at that all you want.
Who’s rage and anger and fear do we make space for? Rarely, too rarely, is it girls
and women. So rarely that we might be justified in using a gun to make us really
Ok, so no, I don’t think I’m suggesting that us all getting machine guns is the answer. Molly
is pretty clear that women imitating male violence doesn’t solve the patriarchy. This isn’t
2003. But, theatre, for a bit, lets us sit in a world where the impossible can be realised. A
world where a teenage girl can storm the White House with only a water pistol and a Colin
the Caterpillar cake for company. A world where teenage girls are allowed to legislate and
advocate for their own bodies.
Imagine for a second that world. It feels far away, right? It feels like the most unlikely bit of
Molly’s story. And that breaks my heart. That’s the bit we should be outraged about. One
day I will storm The White House…
And so, it continues.