The Contemporary American Monologue

Eddie Paterson edited by Enoch Brater and Mark Taylor-Batty

DOI: 10.5040/9781472585059

ISBN: 9781472585011

Talk-show confessions, online rants, stand-up routines, inspirational speeches, banal reflections and calls to arms: we live in an age of solo voices demanding to be heard. In The Contemporary American Monologue, Eddie Paterson looks at the pioneering work of US artists Spalding Gray, Laurie Anderson, Anna Deavere Smith and Karen Finley, and the development of solo performance in the US as a method of cultural and political critique. Ironic confession, post-punk poetry, investigations of race and violence, and subversive polemic, this book reveals the link between the rise of radical monologue in the late 20th century and history of speechmaking, politics, civil rights, individual freedom and the American Dream in the United States. It shows how US artists are speaking back to the cultural, political and economic forces that shape the world.

Eddie Paterson traces the importance of the monologue in Shakespeare, Brecht, Beckett, Chekov, Pinter, O'Neill and Williams, before offering a comprehensive analysis of several of the most influential and innovative American practitioners of monologue performance.

The Contemporary American Monologue constitutes the first book-length account of US monologists that links the tradition of oratory and speechmaking in the colony to the appearance of solo performance as a distinctly American phenomenon.

'In The Contemporary American Monologue, Australian university lecturer Eddie Paterson sets out to trace the work of four distinctly American monologue artists and to place their creative work within the larger context of dramatic monologues over the past two-and-a-half millennia … In examining these artists, Paterson provides an important initial study of the form's evolution, one sure to spark further examination and scholarship.' Studies in American Culture

'In succinct but comprehensive coverage, this engaging book offers the reader new perspectives on monologue. It sets out the origins and function of the dramatic monologue from historical precedents through to contemporary developments. The ambitious and largely successful ambit of the book means that it will appeal to theatre practitioners as well as researchers. Eddie Paterson presents the accepted ideas of theatrical monologue and then, in careful, thoughtful analysis, he explores how these were expanded through solo performance from the 1980s. Importantly, The Contemporary American Monologue treats monologue as a type of performance – and therefore best illustrated with the type of solo performance that emerged out of the United States.' TEXT