I love the way you always carry my handbag wherever we go – my “everything but the kitchen sink” handbag – to the club, to the movies, and back up those two flights of stairs that take twice the time they did in the 80s. You’ve carried it for me like a habit, unasked for the last 60 years. For that, I love you.
I love the way you let me copy you in Maths on Monday mornings when you know I am rank hungover from the weekend – you turn to me and you smile that little “rethink your life choices” smile and then you tug my left ear, in a kinda annoying way, but as if I’m gonna complain. Cos I love you.
I love the way you sit hunched on facebook chat like some freaky insomniac tarantula, and the second I come online, you pounce all “BITCH WHASSUUUP” and we talk about who we pashed on the weekend and who was good and who was like a slimy broken washing machine, suds everywhere and bad breath. And for that I love ya. Big time.
I love the way you have no backlit screen to mess with my delicate 2am reading eyes. You’re so light in the hand, my love. You are a revolution in publishing, no matter what the fuddy-duddy “I just need the feel of real paper in my hands” losers say. I really love you.
I love that you’ll hold my hand when I meet you after Period 7 at the school gates and as soon as we walk outside you cram your body and your lips against me so hard it’s like we’re both about to die and everyone gawks at these two blazers, two ties, two trousers, two boys mashed together, breathing as one, but we don’t care anymore. Not a bit. Cos we’re in love.
In 2010, I was one of several young writers given the task of writing about love for the inaugural atyp monologue showcase and production of Tell It Like It Isn’t – a series of short monologues for young performers, all inspired by first love.
In the writing of my monologue, Little Love, I was forced to consider all the different types of love out there, and why this four-letter word is so directly linked, in different ways and for different reasons, to the experience of being human.
Each Tell It Like It Isn’t writer was asked by playwright Lachlan Philpott to bring an item of inspiration with them to the Fresh Ink National Studio to kick-start their monologue – a piece of music we were obsessed with when we were 16 years old (the most awesome of the lot was Dilemma by Nelly).
By listening to it, this song evoked so strongly the memories and feelings that came with being 16. It was a great way of tapping into something genuine and personal, but also allowed us to broaden and reframe these emotions by creating worlds different to our own immediate experience.
I highly recommend this exercise as a starting point for your own monologue. A good question to ask is: what does this song remind me of, from my own life?
For example, if you listened to the song This is How We Party by SOAP on your Walkman on repeat one afternoon, waiting for someone at the school gates who never showed up (I am really showing my age here, but go with it), every time you hear the song from now on, it will dredge up that feeling of rejection, of self-pity, and of embarrassment.
And while you might not want to share with Australia’s theatre-going community the precise story of what a jerk Billy was for never showing his ugly face, and how much he’ll regret that decision upon seeing your new airbrushed headshot, you can tap into that red-hot searing feeling of rejection to write an entirely new story.
What does rejection feel like on your skin?
What does it do to your tastebuds?
Do your eyes tear up or do you refuse to let yourself cry?
How does rejection manifest itself outside the school gates context; perhaps in an airport arrival lounge, or on an abandoned space station?
The bruises and stains of your own memory will make your writing physical, sensory and human.
In this way, you’ll find yourself writing what you feel, if not necessarily what you know.
And if a song doesn’t work for you, try it with a poem, a work of art, a flower, a smell, your grandma’s borscht, or whatever else floats your boat.
Our final monologues for Tell It Like It Isn’t were fascinatingly varied, and reflected the full breadth of our imagination and passions. There was romantic love, sure, in all its permutations, but the buck didn’t stop there. There’s familial love, for your parents or siblings or creepy Uncle Bob or nosy Aunt Mary. There’s social love – for your ever-patient best friend, or that cool kid whose life you just want to grab and make your own. There’s even consumer love – for a gadget, for a schoolies cruise, or for the effect that Lynx deodorant has on all the ladies hanging round your locker.
There’s love that’s reciprocated, or love that is tragically one-sided.
There’s love that lasts for months or years or forever, but there’s also a kind of love that exists in one touch, or kiss, or one night spent together.
Love is day and night obsession, either humming constantly, or hitting you in little jagged bolts of memory.
Love is fear and panic and the midnight terror of having something to lose.
Love can be wonderful, but it can also make you feel bad and sad; ugly and unsure.
Love is much much more than ‘happily ever after’.
So what’s your love story?
Tell us your love story in less than 3 minutes, with our online monologue competition, Love Bytes, now launched. As Jessica notes, you can can win a place at our Fresh Ink National Studio and an iPad.
The monologues from The Voices Project 2011: Tell It Like It Isn’t, featuring Jessica Bellamy’s Little Love, are now available from Currency Press, in a collection that also contains the scripts for The Voices Project 2012: The One Sure Thing, the 2012 monologue showcase. Click here to purchase.