LGBTQ Creators Interview with Fanbase Press
Author Alisha Gaddis along with Alessandra Rizzotti, Leah Mann, Jamison Scala, and Ilana Turner sat down with Barbara Dillon with Fanbase Press to discuss the book: LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That are Actually Funny. They each shared their inspirations behind the collection of monologues, their approach to creating it, experiences performing the pieces, and more.
Congratulations on the recent release of LGBTQ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny! What was the inspiration for this collection of monologues?
Alisha Gaddis: Thanks so much! After the release of five other books in the series “Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny (Women’s, Men’s, Teen Girls’, Teen Boys’ and Kids’),” my agent, Sara Camilli, and I discussed the possibility of doing an LGBTQ edition. There was no book of monologues out there for LGBTQ actors, or actors auditioning for LGBTQ roles, and with the urging of one of the contributors, Alessandra Rizzotti, I went into action and made the pitch. It is so incredibly important that this book exists for LGBTQ actors and their allies auditioning for LGBTQ roles. The book is chock-full of hardy, hilarious roles for truly anyone and everyone.
Alessandra Rizzotti: As a current volunteer and former Communications Manager of The Trevor Project, the only national accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization serving LGBTQ youth under age 25, I found it important to give young people a positive outlet that could serve as a form of self-care, inspiration, and passion. I was frustrated that I didn’t see enough LGBTQ theater or media out there, so I reached out to Alisha Gaddis with this idea. I’m happy to know that the work of one of my fellow Trevor volunteers is also in this book — and he happened to train me at Trevor when I started.
Leah Mann: I’m inspired by people. It’s as simple as that. Everyone has their own perspective on the world and way of moving through it which is colored by their experiences. Love is love, hate is hate, and heartbreak is universal. It was great to give a funny take on the things every human — regardless of gender and sexuality — goes through, in voices that have been so severely under represented.
BD: How would you describe the creative team’s approach to creating fully fleshed out characters for the actors to perform in such a short period of time within each monologue?
AG: As the editor of the anthology, it is incredibly interesting to work with all the different writers and see their different approaches. Some writers sent me fully fleshed out pieces, complete with stage directions, character descriptions — the whole package. Some contributors sent an idea for a sketch of a person, in a place, and we worked together to craft a deep, interesting character that an actor can really dig into it. It is fascinating to see how different people create.
For me as a writer, I let the character talk in my head for a bit. I picture her in place, having the conversation. I see the scene around her — what does it look like, feel like, what does she look like, what does she have on? I let the character write herself. Then, I go to the paper and let her into the world!
Jamison Scala: I approached my writing coming from a background of improv. The art is instantaneous and quickly erased, never to be seen again. In improv, we’re taught to create a world as quickly as possible so it can inform our characters and our scene work, and I lent that approach to the monologues I wrote.
LM: I generally brainstorm various characters and scenarios that speak to me, creating a long list before sitting down and pulling specific elements together. I want each piece to have a clear and specific voice, high stakes (fighting for love, your life, revenge…) and a funny setting. Strong choices and small details let the actor and audience know who this person is, where they are, and who they are talking to right off the bat.
Ilana Turner: Monologues are almost always written for an actor to perform as though their character is talking to someone else — it’s just the audience can’t see the other person. (Soliloquies are written to be performed as though the character is talking to themselves — “To be or not to be,” being a classic example.) As people, when we talk to or at someone for a long time, we are usually trying to get something from them — and we usually reveal an awful lot about ourselves, even if it’s not what we expected to reveal. For my piece, Sugar Coat It, I kept the character, a middle-aged figure skating coach, focused on his what he wanted from his student, and then let all the details he maybe didn’t plan to reveal leak into his monologue.
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