Gather round, ladies! Here are some powerful and passionate monologues for women in the latter half of their lives (arguably, the best half!) These monologues are all from theatre, if you’re after a film monologue, you can head here, or a monologue from TV, head here. Enjoy!
Older Elizabeth in When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell
Bovell’s When the Rain Stops Falling is an intergenerational story about a family in Alice Springs, Australia. Our protagonist, Gabriel York is the grandson of Henry and Elizabeth Law, who we meet in London in 1959. Gabriel York’s father, Gabriel Law, has a strained relationship with his mother as a result of her refusal to shed light on the mysterious disappearance of his father when Gabriel Law was only seven years old. This monologue, which can be found towards the end of the play, sheds light on exactly what happened to make Gabriel Law’s father leave. In this monologue, after throwing a glass on wine in his face, Elizabeth confronts her husband, Henry, about a visit she received earlier that day from two policemen, and the accusations they made against Henry. She explains how she immediately defended him to the policemen, but then as she set about cleaning and painting their house, she makes a horrifying discovery. For most of the monologue, Elizabeth is using the metaphor of cleaning their neglected home to express the realisation she’s made about their neglected relationship and all the things she’s swept under the rug, until now. A powerful dramatic monologue, with a horrifying twist.
That’s what I said. I said this is not right. How dare you accuse my husband of such a thing. Against nature. And I sent them on their way, Henry. I showed them the door. I could not have been more indignant. And when they were gone and I was alone it felt to me as if the world had been turned upside down. And I looked around and saw just how dirty our room was. Filthy, in fact. In the corners and on the window sills and the ceilings. Layers of dust and dirt and grime and dead insects. Years of neglect, Henry. How did we let it come to this? And so I began to clean it. A bucket of hot water and soap suds. I washed the walls, the ceilings, even the light fittings were scrubbed. I washed the door handles and the light switches and the dark corners behind the furniture. I scrubbed the table and the floor and polished the windows. I dusted the books and the lampshade and even took to the grouting between the tiles with a toothbrush. And when I finished I looked around and it looked exactly the same. So I found an old tin of leftover paint in the cupboard. And as the tanks rolled into Prague I painted. And I painted. And I painted. Then I hung the pictures back on the walls. And put the books back on the bookshelves and moved the furniture back into position and it was when I was moving the wardrobe that it tilted slightly and something slipped from the top… and landed at my feet. [Beat.] A leather satchel. Quite old. Quite worn. Good quality leather. Something you have had since you were a child. Given to you by an uncle, you once said. And inside there is a collection of photographs of young children, boys mainly, naked, some involved in sexual acts with adults. Some of them clearly distressed. Clearly frightened. And among the photographs. Among the photographs, Henry, are pictures of our own son. Silence. Have you touched him?
Rose in The Children by Lucy Kirkwood
Inspired by the Fukushima nuclear explosion in Japan in 2011, Kirkwood’s play, The Children is about three nuclear physicists coming to terms with a major disaster at a nuclear power station. In a monologue towards the end of the play, Rose is attempting to convince her friends Hazel and Robin that the right thing to do is go back to work, take the place of the younger generation, and face the fatal risks involved in cleaning up after a nuclear disaster. The monologue, which begins “It’ll sound silly but. You were who I wanted to be when I grew up” is addressed to Hazel. Rose, who, like Hazel, is in her sixties, is the less responsible of the pair, but for the first time ever, she is the one being the adult.
Earlier in the play, Rose delivers another monologue to Hazel’s husband, Robin. Beginning with “Because I’m the sort of woman who forgets to take a pill in the morning,” this monologue is a confession by Rose of all of the horrible things she’d wished had happened to Hazel and Robin’s child when the child was firstborn. This love triangle between the three characters reveals a refreshingly messy representation of people in their sixties who don’t have the answers but are trying desperately hard to find them. Rose is a unique and eccentric character with a great set of monologues for women over 60 to tackle.
Rose – Monologue 1:
It’ll sound silly but. You were who I wanted to be when Igrew up. I thought, one day I’ll be like Hazel. I won’t smoke cigarettes and I’ll wear suncream and plan the week’s meals ahead and get a slow cooker and not just buy sandwiches from petrol stations and I’ll keep the bathroom really clean not just give it a wipe when people are coming over and I’ll stop crying all the time and I’ll do exercise and have a really neat handbag and do washing regularly not just when I’ve run out of knickers and stop losing earrings and not stay awake reading till four in the morning and feel like shit the next day and I’ll find out how tracker mortgages work and be fifteen minutes early to everything and most of all most of all I’ll know when I’ve had enough. But I never quite got there. And I think it’s a bit late now. And then tonight I saw your washing outside, on the line, and I thought about you, pegging it out, and how many times in your life you’d done that and no one noticed. And I thought, that woman holds up the world. So that’s why, really.
Rose – Monologue 2:
Because I’m the sort of woman who forgets to take a pill in the morning, I’m just that sort of person, I don’t make lists or eat salad, I don’t do yoga or – I don’t have a pension even. But Hazel was a very cautious person. I remember when we were on night shifts together, she always – this sounds funny but, she always smelt so lovely. And at first I thought it was you, I thought I was smelling you on her and that was what I found so… but then one day I asked her, what’s that lovely smell you always have? And she said it’s suncream. And I thought, it’s January and it’s night. And I wondered if maybe she was a bit mentally ill, but I did understand, in that moment, the fundamental difference between Hazel and me, and why you might be more drawn to… To that sort of woman. To the sort of woman who is cautious, and doesn’t make mistakes (…) No, it is, so when Lauren happened, I knew it wasn’t an accident at all, it was entirely intentional. And I remember, at the time, thinking, it might have been easier Hazel, it might have been easier if you’d just pissed on him. , The summer before she was born. Coming here. Watching you prowl around this table, I prayed, I really prayed that something terrible would happen and she’d lose it. Lauren. Don’t you think that’s wicked?
Hazel in The Children by Lucy Kirkwood
The Children also has two monologues for the other female character in the play, Hazel. Hazel is a retired mother of four; she practices yoga, she’s super-organised, and is the epitome of domestic efficiency. She lives on a farm with her husband, and has led an environmentally responsible life that she feels now warrants being a little selfish. Her monologue, early in the play, is about the decision she and Robin made to stay and fix up their property, and look after their animals, despite what she feels; that they had earnt the right to take the easier route just this one time. It begins “And then I had this amazing thought: we don’t have to. We don’t actually have to. To clear it up.”
Earlier in the play Hazel has another monologue which is more of a meditation on getting older. It is also addressed to her old friend, Rose, and begins “I’m growing a beard you know.” She talks a lot about aging gracefully, and even more about body hair. It’s certainly a lighter alternative, and can even come across quite funny if the actor makes some strong decisions about Hazel’s quirks and sense of certainty in the face of the uncertain.
Hazel – Monologue 1:
And then I had this amazing thought: we don’t have to. We don’t actually have to. To clear it up. It was like e equals m c squared, one of those exquisite pieces of thinking that’s so simple, you feel like Archimedes running naked to the king, screaming ‘eureka!’ Because when I told Robin, the relief on his face. And you know all our lives we’ve been those kind of people, when we have a picnic or, camping we don’t just clear up our own litter, we go around and pick up other people’s too, I have a little stash of plastic bags in my cagoule, that’s just our policy, leave a place cleaner than you found it but but but so you see we’d earned it. We’d earned the right, on this one occasion, just to say: at our time of life, we simply cannot deal with this shit. And we decided to leave that night. And we went down to the barns and we fed the cows for the last time and I just wept, I honestly, to think what they’d been exposed to, their big brown eyes looking back at me but what choice did we have? They always say you shouldn’t name them, but of course we’d named them, you can’t not name them, so I’m leaning out of the taxi like a mad woman, ‘Goodbye Daisy! Goodbye Bluebell! Goodbye Heisenberg!’ We drove away and we knew they’d all be dead in days.
Hazel – Monologue 2:
I’m growing a beard you know. This morning – I found two hairs on my chin and I looked at them, for a good minute, and I tried to convince myself this was alright , it’s natural, it’s chemical, it’s your age, you know? She takes an apple from the fruit bowl, begins to polish it on her top or a tea towel. Just oestrogen declining. Because you know I don’t hold with people our age trying to look twenty-two, because you see these women don’t you, in the paper, looking like stretched eggs, trying to hide it when all it’s doing is shouting it out loud isn’t it, ‘I’m old and I’m frightened of it!’ I mean and because I’m not frightened of it so so so so but then I thought no. No because this is how it starts isn’t it, the slow descent into the coffin it starts with two black hairs on your chin that you let run wild one day and you don’t even know it but right there, in that moment, you’ve lost, you’ve lowered your defences and the enemy’s got in hasn’t it yes so I went at these hairs I went at them ruthlessly with a pair of tweezers and I can’t describe to you the sense of triumph.
[HAZEL puts the apple on the table. It rolls down the table away from her. ROSE catches the apple, returns it to the bowl.]
Alice in The Dance of Death by August Strindberg
In Strindberg’s The Dance of Death, Alise, in her early forties, is married to the tyrannous Captain. She is also cousin to Kurt, the Quarantine Master whose home this scene is set in. This monologue is delivered to Allan, Kurt’s son, who is in love with Alice’s only daughter, Judith. Judith has been flirting with Allan, and Allan is clearly very much in love with her. However, Judith has been playing mind games with him, flirting with other men, and being particularly cruel towards Allan. Alice, who demonstrates very little love towards her daughter, consoles Allan. But she’s also manipulating him and suggests he take a different approach. The monologue requires a little editing around Allan’s interjections, but begins with “You mustn’t be afraid of me, Allan – you’re in no danger from me.”
(Gentle, feminine, with genuine concern) You mustn’t be afraid of me, Allan – you’re in no danger from me. What’s the matter? Aren’t you feeling well? What is it? Have you a headache? Is it your heart? Are you in pain? Pain, terrible pain – as if your heart were melting away! And something tugging at it, tearing it apart… And you want to die, you wish you were dead, everything seems so impossible. And all you can think of is one thing – one person. But if two people can only think of the same person, then one of them is headed for sorrow. It’s a sickness, and there’s no cure for it. You can’t eat, you don’t want to drink, all you want to do is weep – so bitterly. You’d like to hide away in the forest, where nobody can see you, because it’s the kind of affliction people laugh at – people are so cruel! Ugh! And what is it you want from her? Nothing! You don’t want to kiss her lips, because you know you’d die if you did. Whenever your thoughts fly to her, you can feel death drawing nearer. And it truly is death, my child – the death that brings life. But you don’t understand that yet. There’s a scent of violets – it’s her! Yes, it’s her – she’s everywhere, she and she alone! Oh, you poor boy! You poor, poor boy! Oh, how painful it all is! There, there! Yes, cry – cry all you want. You’ll feel better for it – it’ll ease the pain in your heart. But now you must stand up, Allan, and be a man – Otherwise she won’t give you a second glance! That cruel girl, who isn’t really cruel! Has she been tormenting you? With the Lieutenant? Then listen to me, my boy – You’ve got to make friends with the Lieutenant, so you can talk about her together – that’ll help a little too. Listen, silly – it won’t be long before the Lieutenant comes to see you, to discuss her with you! Because . . . (Allan looks up, hopefully.) Shall I be kind and tell you why? (Allan nods.) Because he’s just as miserable as you! He certainly is, and whenever Judith hurts his feelings, he needs someone to bare his soul to. There – you’re looking more cheerful already! She doesn’t want either of you, my dear – she wants the Colonel! ( Allan looks thoroughly miserable.) What, the water works again? Well, you’re not getting this handkerchief back – Judith likes to hang onto her belongings, and she has a round dozen of these! (Allan is crestfallen.) I’m afraid that’s just the way she is. Now, sit over there while I write another letter, then you can run an errand for me.
Helene in Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen
In Henrik Ibsen’s three-act drama about a widowed mother and the return of her prodigal son. In a monologue towards the end of act one, Helene Alving, forty-five, is revealing all the horrible things her husband did to her to the minister, Pastor Manders. When Pastor Manders suggests that by having ‘wayward ideas’ and denying her duties Helene had brought upon herself her dysfunctional relationship with her son, she decides that it is time to reveal the truth: the drinking, violence, and boastful infidelity of her husband created an environment so toxic for her son that she had no choice but to do what she did. The piece contains interjections by Manders that would have to be edited out, but with very few changes this would make a great monologue for a performer who is confident at playing with status, class and emotional vulnerability.
It’s my duty to tell you this. You’ve spoken and I’ve listened and tomorrow you’ll speak again in public but now it’s my turn. Nothing that you’ve said about me and my husband after you’d ‘led me back to the road of righteousness’, or whatever you called it, is based on what you actually saw. None of it. Was it? Because after that night when I came to you in utter despair, the second I came back to my husband, you never came near us again. And you never came to visit until after his death – and then it was only because of the business of the Orphanage. You have no idea. You have no idea. The truth. I promised myself that one day I’d tell you. The truth… My husband never reformed. He was the same when he died as he was when we married. ‘Full of energy and mischief.’ Ha! Even if he couldn’t do anything he was just as… debauched at the end as he was at the beginning. He calmed down a bit after Oswald was born, but I had to work even harder now I had a child so no one would find out that the boy’s father was a drunk and a lecher. But you know how charming he was – no one could ever believe anything bad about him. So I had to put up with it the things he got up to in town… the drinking, the flirting, the… whoring, because, well, it wasn’t in public, or at least wasn’t in my face, but then…The thing that really sickened me happened here. In this house. In that room. I came in here for something and that door was slightly ajar and I heard voices – my husband’s and the maid’s. ( Smiling briefly .) I can still hear them. There was a sort of murmur from him, then there was a laugh, the scrape of a chair, a sort of giggle… then she whispered: ‘Don’t, sir, you can’t…’ He slept with the girl. And it wasn’t once or twice. It was often. Beneath my roof, in her room, with her consent. And there were consequences. Oh, this house was a… university of suffering for me. To keep him home after that I had to sit in his study, night after night, while he drank and made me drink and forced me to listen to the foul stories of his sexual exploits and then he’d get violent and I’d have to wrestle with him to drag him to bed. The maid was the last straw. I thought: ‘That’s it! Enough!’ I took control of the house, everything, and he couldn’t object. I sent Oswald away – he was seven – I know – he’d sensed something going on, the way children do. I thought he’d get poisoned just by breathing the air in this house. That’s why I never let him come here while his father was alive. You have no idea what this has cost me. It was the work that got me through. God, how I worked. All the things he was praised for – the new properties and the improvements and the extensions and the innovations, and all the maintenance – do you imagine he could have done that? He’d just lie on a sofa all day with a bottle and a book about family trees. And I’ll tell you this: it was me who pushed him along on his good days, and I carried the whole business on my back when he was off womanising or wallowing in misery and self-pity.
Annette God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza
Yasmina Reza’s God of Carnage, (originally Le Dieu du Carnage) is about two sets of parents who meet to discuss their children’s bad behaviour; one child has hurt the other in a public park, and the parents are agreeing to discuss the matter as civilised adults. Naturally, the ‘civilised’ nature of the meeting disintegrates into increasingly childish, chaotic behaviour. Annette Reille is a well dressed ‘wealth manager’ of her husband’s wealth. She is married to Alan, and the mother of Ferdinand, the child who knocks out the other child’s teeth with a stick. Towards the end of the play, and more than a few drinks in, Annette delivers a monologue about what men should and shouldn’t carry with them in public.
Well, if you ask me, everyone’s feeling fine. If you ask me, everyone’s feeling better. (Pause.) . . . Everyone’s much calmer, don’t you think? … Men are so wedded to their gadgets . . . It belittles them … It takes away all their authority . . . A man needs to keep his hands free . . . if you ask me. Even an attaché case is enough to put me off. There was a man, once, I found really attractive, then I saw him with a square shoulder-bag, a man’s shoulder-bag, but that was it. There’s nothing worse than a shoulder bag. Although there’s also nothing worse than a cell phone. A man ought to give the impression that he’s alone . . . if you ask me. I mean, that he’s capable of being alone …! I also have a John Wayne-ish idea of virility. And what was it he had? A Colt .45. A device for creating a vacuum . . . A man who can’t give the impression that he’s a loner has no texture … So, Michael, are you happy? Is it somewhat fractured, our little … What was it you said? … I’ve forgotten the word, . . . but in the end . . . everyone’s feeling more or less all right . . . if you ask me.
Augusta in The Turquoise Elephant by Stephen Carleton
Set in Sydney, Australia in the not so distant future, Stephen Carleton’s The Turquoise Elephant is about a black political farce concerning the life of Augusta, her sister, Olympia, and their niece, Basra. Augusta Macquarie lives behind triple glazed glass to protect herself from the seemingly undeniable effects of climate change. Yet, deny them she does; this matriarchal powerhouse and conservative politician delivers a speech to her supporter at the end of scene five that begins, “They say all the grand certainties are dead. God. History. Truth. All dead. The weather – the seasons as we know them. Apparently even capitalism itself is dying! Please! You wish!” This is political rhetoric from a powerful character, so sure of herself and her cause. The speech is a great opportunity for an actor to play off their imagined audience of supporters, and demonstrate how words can be used as a political weapon.
Everything’s dying, apparently. The weather – the planet as we know it. Apparently even Capitalism itself is dying! [Laughter.] Please! You wish! [Applause.] Oh, yes – it’s the end of days! But who exactly is complaining? The Chinese are investing in cloud seeding. Saudi Arabia is making a fortune out of drought-resistant crop technology. They’re growing food in dustbowls, and they’re making trillions in the process! If this is the apocalypse, I say bring it on! [Cheers] The smart people are thriving. The smart people see business opportunity in what’s happening to our planet. We have gathered here to solve the world’s problems, and we all know the solution is Fossil Fuels! [Loud cheers.] Petroleum and coal are the energy sources our planet needs to see it through this time of flux! The timing is urgent.
[Vika appears on the stage behind her. She walks slowly towards her, in the shadows.] There are actually those – the enemy within – who would have us live in permanent terror and apprehension about common sense solutions we are proposing. [laughter and applause. Vika approaches her.] Well, we’re not afraid of you! [cheers] To this home-grown enemy, to the faceless and so-called ‘cultural’ terrorists, this “Front”, these Turquoise militants, I say…up yours!!
[Vika presses a device cloaked within her clothes, around her chest. A massive bomb blast rips through the building. Screams. Sirens. Blackout.]
Eve in Myth, Propaganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America by Stephen Sewell
Stephe Sewell’s Myth, Propoganda and Disaster in Nazi Germany and Contemporary America, is about the reverberate after-math of September 11 and is set during the Bush Administration in America. The protagonist, Talbot, is an Australian lecturer at an unnamed New York University who is struggling to hold back his criticism of America’s War on Terror. In scene thirteen, Talbot’s partner, Eve is speaking to her therapist and a thought about the rise of artificial intelligence launches Eve into a moment of self-realisation…
I suppose I am angry, but it’s so far down, I’m barely aware of it. I hate this, this floundering. I read this thing the other day, about self awareness— did you read it? That they’re trying to write software for machines to have self awareness— isn’t that a strange idea? And the reason is to try to improve their mobility, because if a machine isn’t really aware where it is in an environment, then it can’t really navigate properly— So the idea is to write a program which allows the machine to locate itself in an environment— and that’s a kind of self awareness; and so there I was thinking, is that all it is? All this goo in the middle of us, all this— who am I, where am I going, what does it mean? All that stuff that’s kept the motor of our civilization going for the last three thousand years— is just so I can get from the front door to the supermarket and back— And then I got a flash of one of those endless repetitive things— one of those Escher moments as I saw myself seeing myself seeing myself, all of us caught in a kind of transparent sphere of consciousness expanding at the speed of light— and you just wonder, don’t you— is Douglas Adams right, and the answer is forty-two? Well, he’d know now, wouldn’t he; or he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t if he’s just gone to dust, gone to cosmic dust disappearing into the darkness, and if machines can locate themselves in an environment, will they start wondering what it all means, too? And when they break down and decay, will they rage against fate and feel betrayed and alone? Will they feel angry that something has given them the ability to locate themselves in an environment, but never told them why they’re there? Am I making sense? Is any of this making sense?
Elaine in Breathing Corpses by Laura Wade
Breathing Corpses is a play by British playwright, Laura Wade, about the discovery of two separate corpses, and the characters tied to the events. In scene four, Elaine is talking to her husband, Jim, who has been going through a tough time after discovering one of these dead bodies in a crate. She enters this scene to find; ‘Jim sits cross-legged on the floor, carefully removing the crews from a brass door handle. Beside him, underneath a camping groundsheet, is a pile of doors.” Jim can’t move past the idea that the moment he opened the crate he cemented the dead woman’s fate: “Maybe in that second when I opened the box, maybe – Like if I hadn’t, maybe she’d have turned up at home a few days later”. And so, in response, Jim has resolved to take all of the doors off their hinges. Elaine, whose patience has completely dried up, is in this monologue trying to get Jim to snap out of it. He’s already ruined Christmas, no one can get through to him, and she thinks enough time has passed for him to be returning to normal.
Alright then. Can I say something?
I’m a bit- I’m a little bit sick of this. You let this mess up all of Christmas, our only time with the boys till what, a couple of days at Easter if we’re lucky and you hardly said a word to anyone you’d barely look at them and I don’t know if you noticed from in there but it was awful, Jim. Cause bless them, they tried – taking you out to the pub and – and you just stared into your pint for an hour, no wonder they both went off straight after Boxing Day…
Will you stop clicking that, please?
I mean I feel like. I feel like you’re letting this get in the way when it really- It’s a bit. I’m a bit- the doors and the talking rubbish about fish in your eyes and- I’m sorry it happened but I won’t take responsibility and you shouldn’t because we had nothing to do with it and we’re not people that kill people and we’re not-
I don’t think you’re trying. I can’t believe how unimportant I-
I don’t care about the business, if you don’t want it anymore, fine, we’ll sell it I don’t care. But you’ll have to do something else. You can’t just stay at home taking the place apart with a screwdriver.
Jim, you’ve got to put the doors back. I won’t be lonely, I can’t do it.
Unassigned character in Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again by Alice Birch
In this uber-contemporary, feminist play by Alice Birch the characters are mostly unassigned and so quite a bit of text could be played by a woman of any age. But in particular, a piece of text at the end of a scene called “REVOLUTIONIZE THE BODY (MAKE IT SEXUALLY AVAILABLE. CONSTANTLY)” that begins with “I have felt very tired lately. I could fall asleep standing straight up.” would really suit a woman performer over forty. In response to an onslaught of abuse about her body, this character takes us through the logic behind how she is going to beat the societal pressures on women’s bodies; she is simply going to choose them, as a form of empowerment. No matter what the world throws at her, as long as she chooses it, it’s no longer an attack, right? It’s an intelligent, and interesting piece for an actor looking to perform something a little outside of Realism. This speech would suit a performer with rigorous textual analysis abilities who also wants the freedom to make a piece of text their own through their unique creative choices.
I have felt very
I could fall asleep standing straight up.
I’m sorry about the watermelon.
I’m not sorry about the watermelon.
Where my body stops and the air around it starts has felt a little like this long continuous line of a battleground for about my whole life, I think.
I have cut my eyelashes off. I have covered myself in coal and mud. I have bandaged my body up and made myself a collection of straight edges. Fortify. I have rubbed iodine, bleach and the gut of a rabbit into my skin until it began to burn. I have nearly emptied my body of its organs. I stopped eating for one year and three days, my body a bouquet of shell bone. I have eaten only animal fat until I rolled, bubbled and whaled and came quite close to popping. Fortify. Make my edges clear. Where I begin and air stops is my motherland. No? I have sat under sun lamps until my skin crackled, spat and blistered. I have pulled my hair out with my fingers and my teeth out with pliers. I have wrapped myself in clingfilm, foil, clothes, make-up and barbed wire.
No fortification strong enough.
Nothing to stop them wanting to come in.
Lie down and become available. Constantly. Want to be entered. Constantly. It cannot be an Invasion, if you want it. They Cannot Invade if you Want It. Open your legs and throw your dress over your head, pull your knickers down and want it and they can invade you no longer.
Turn on. Turn on. Turn on.
And want it. And want it. Constantly. Constantly. Constantly want it. Remove the edges of your body. Choose. My body is no battleground, there is no longer a line of defense – I Am Open. There are borders here no more. This body this land is unattackable, unprotected, unconquerable, unclaimable, no different from air around it or bodies coming in because there Is no in to come into, you cannot overpower it because I have given it you cannot rape it because I choose it you cannot take because I give it and because I choose it I choose it I choose it
This World Can Never Attack Me Again.
Because I Choose it. Over and Again and Again and
For more monologues for actors, head here.