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Arts & Culture

Masters Of The Monologue

Flickr Creative Commons, p_a_H


Until theatrical autobiographical monologue develops a large roster of superstars, everybody will be compared to Spalding Gray, whether or not that makes sense on a case-by-case basis.

The monologue is, I suppose, as old as human speech, but Gray refined it and married it to performance art around 1980.

Gray's monologues were theater partly because they represented an argument against everything that theater could turn into. For more on the latter see "Spider-Man -- Turn Off the Dark." What if, instead of all that, a person sat at a table with a glass of water and tried to be profoundly present and utterly real?  

Any theater, of course, requires some artifice, and Gray certainly worked from outlines and gradually built upon what worked each night. But there was always the sense of a man pulling up the sluice gate and letting the waters of his life rush out. 

Leave your comments below, e-mail colin@wnpr.org or Tweet us @wnprcolin.

***Special thanks to Tucker Ives, John 'J' Holt and Liz Wolczok. This episode originally aired Feb. 1, 2011***