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  • Writer's pictureAndi Matheny

About that Monologue contest...

Wow. The Tampa Bay Theatre Festival happened this weekend. I saw a funny, funny play Between Calls by Rory Lawrence. Rory's writing cracks me up, and the actors were fun-ny. Some were my students. I was extremely entertained by this talented group. Kudos.

Then Karleigh Chase performed her brilliant one-woman show Memoirs of a Painted Woman on Saturday night. I wasn't there - I've seen it several times and Mama was tired. What can I say about Karleigh? She's ridiculously talented, funny, a great writer and actor. I've watched this show morph and evolve over the last four years and it just gets better every time. And she happened to win the award for Best Play. Well deserved. I couldn't be prouder.

Sunday - there were many events. The one I attended was the Monologue Contest. And that's really what I came here to talk about.

Here's the deal - in all my years as an actor and performer, I've never attended a monologue contest. Not one. I knew they occurred but somehow, we've never crossed paths. I had no idea what to expect. As it was, 19 incredibly talented actors took the stage, one by one, and performed their monologues. Everyone was good. Really good.

But this was a contest! And somebody had to win! Meaning 18 people would not win. As an actor myself, I felt the deepest empathy for these people. Had I been able to stand up and give a speech, this is what I would have said:

"Hey you wonderful, courageous actors. You brave, brave humans. I know that actors are often asked to rip open their guts and show their deepest, most private selves publicly. That's tough enough. But you guys - you guys are not only doing that - you're being judged! Holy freakin' moly! I've always considered myself to be one with big cajones but you guys - all of you dwarf my cajones by even showing up. And you're doing a MONOLOGUE! by yourself, on stage, facing the audience! Can I just give all of you a trophy right now?

"By the way, I know this sounds corny - but just by the fact that you're here today - you are all winners. You have all passed the "putting it out there and great stuff will happen" test. Because just watch - it won't happen in a way that you think might happen, but just by virtue of the fact that you have taken this step and put yourself on the line, something really good is on its way. Whether having this experience makes you less nervous for that next audition or callback, or you met someone who will turn out to be important in your life, or you made someone laugh who needed to (which is always money in the Karma bank) just sit quietly and notice the ripple effect that you've created. Taking artistic risks always pays dividends.

Back to the judging thing. I understand why George C. Scott refused to show up and collect his Oscar. He felt that every acting performance was unique and could not be compared to others. As I sat and watched your monologues, I knew exactly what he meant. Each monologue was completely different - some amusing, some touching, some emotional. All were highly entertaining and everyone had terrific moments. The eventual winner, Kendra Pepe, was wonderful. But I hope all of you who didn't win know that - you have won me over. Forever. >My hands are in front of my face and I'm bowing to all of you...<"

Yeah, that's what I would have said. I love actors. Thank you for a wonderful weekend.

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