The Monologue Festival is “an incredible time, where actors, directors and designers all come together to create art,” according to producer Maddie Martin. At the 26th Annual UCSB Monologue Festival this past weekend, showgoers got to see a unique production from the Theater and Dance Department, where the monologues performed were all written, directed, acted, and put together by students from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Chances are, if you’ve never seen a production from the UCSB Theater and Dance Department, the word “theater” itself depicts an image of a roomful of snobby rich folks wearing churro-like white wigs watching an actor deliberate the obscure meaning of life for three hours straight. While that is not entirely wrong (since people hardly wear wigs anymore), the Monologue Festival might be a perfect gateway for one to start delving into theater.
Since all the pieces are written by fellow UCSB students, instead of some dense Shakespearean mumbling or ancient Greek choruses, these monologues are akin to quick comedic (and dramatic) sketches that could very well be on modern television.
This year, a whole new range of monologues were produced, such as the intensely dramatic, relationship-based monologues “Because You Loved Me” by Lexi Scanlan and “The Habit” by Verenice Zuniga. Following them are “Goodnight Baby” by Mel Weisberger and “The Day My Aunt Sang a Song” by Emilie Villaume, two pieces which created a touching, heartwarming atmosphere equivalent to twenty Facebook puppy videos.
Following this was the comedic “The Burrito Fiasco” by Jennifer Johnson, How Do You Like Them Apples” by Hex Duarte, and “The Real Housewife of Stepford” by Amy Chase. These monologues blew the room up with giggles and laughter, which must have made the theater department sound oddly suspicious. Lastly, “John’s Monologue” by Cooper Bruhns brings the Monologue Festival to an end with a good old (comically and sarcastically delivered, naturally) contemplation and a discussion of Jesus.
My personal favorite, “Goodnight Baby,” is a monologue about a vulnerable father talking to his child, who was just born a few moments ago. It takes the often-seen father figure and shows it in its most helpless state. The actor for this piece, Tyler Reinholds, gracefully articulated all the uncertainties, insecurities, and responsibilities of being an adult while both demeaning himself and panicking to reassure the newborn. From start to finish, I couldn’t help but chuckle along while my vision blurs and cheeks wet.
With all these assortments of theatrics, it’s difficult to go through them one by one. What can be said, though, is that with this variety every year, there’s bound to be one monologue that fits your fancy. The students create every aspect of the production, and know their audience well.
There will be new chances to participate in the Monologue Festival starting next fall. Although directors are selected from the directing students in the theater major. Students of all majors are welcomed to write and submit monologues, and witness one’s work come alive if the monologue is chosen.
Auditions to act for these chosen monologues are also open to all UCSB students. For those itching to stand on a stage ever since elementary school or those encouraged by the popular Theater 5 class, the Monologue Festival is a great starting point. Due to the short nature of Monologue Festival, it is also recommended to writers and actors who are looking to test the waters in a production but doubt their amount of free time.
Unfortunately (though perhaps fortunate for the actors), the Monologue Festival only ran for one weekend, unlike many other productions from the Theater and Dance Department. For those looking for an hour packed with assorted ideas and action, they would have to wait until next year to experience this multitude of student creativity.