One of the most remarkable things that happened while working at Red Wall Productions was winning the IFNY Monologue Slam. Every four months Attika Torrance holds monologue competition to find the most talented actors with unique monologues to duke it out for the right to be called the Monologue Slam Champion. This year I had the privilege to compete with Ara Morton, Zyeisha Green, and Jehrime Chadwick. We were required to do two monologues. The first could be completely up to the actor but the performance must be truthful to the text. Then, we were given adjustments and each actor repeated the performance of same monologue once the audience changed the circumstances. . The second monologue had to be a highly acclaimed piece but of our own choosing. Attika gave us one criterion: Think outside the box.
In preparation for the monologue slam, I began vigorous training with Roz. First, we started with the creative part, coming up with content. Red Wall is very good at coming up with creative content. Roz and I put our heads together and came up with something really outside the box. Next, we put the monologues into motion. There were times when I thought I was taking it too far, getting too close to the edge, but Roz was right there encouraging me to not only skirt the edge, but also to jump. “Be free,” she said, “and welcome the blessing of being able to get to the edge to begin with.” So, I jumped.
My first monologue was written by Tony Clomax for an upcoming movie he is working on. It is about a man who attacks a rather unassuming girl and finds out too late that he’s picked the wrong one. After my performance, the audience was allowed to adjust the monologue, redefining my role and the circumstances. Then I was sent to rehearse before returning to perform the revised edition. I went from being a seemingly average girl who kicked butt to being an old woman with dementia and arthritis who stutters and is afraid of everything. I was terrified. I had no idea what I was going to do. So I put on everything that was in my suitcase, grabbed a chair and my glasses, and I tried to be as truthful as possible to the text and the new given circumstances. As it turned out, that was the right idea. The crowd was very satisfied. The judge told me he only wished I hadn't killed the poor boy; he felt bad for him, which was good because it meant the judge had suspended disbelief and was very engaged with my performance
My last monologue, my ace in the hole, is entitled "A Day in the Life of YouTube". Roz and I poured over ideas. We went to different websites looking for famous monologues. I watched movies and read many monologue books seeking inspiration, but I still couldn’t find that single “Ah-ha!” I was looking for. We started watching clips from movies on youtube.com and then it just hit us like a ton of bricks. You want something unique that no one has done yet? YOUTUBE!!!!!!! In that moment, I knew I had it! I begin to scour youtube.com in search of those famous clips that would translate well into a stage performance.
Once I found my pieces and put them together, the outcome was a thing of beauty. Next, we had to find costumes. Ms. Sandra Williams, Craig T's mom, played a key role in finding the right clothes. Roz really loves hair and wigs, so we had a ball finding the perfect ones that would make the monologue pop. At times I felt overwhelmed, like I had bitten off more than I could chew, but Craig, Roz, and Sandra simply wouldn't stand for that, so I pulled myself together and got it done. With people like them for support, it was impossible to stay down for long.
By the time it got down to the last week before the monologue slam, I was walking around New York City and Time Square with a huge bag of customs and props and a huge chair that folds up. Part of the rehearsal process was doing the piece full out with props and customs. At some point I rented a studio at Ripley Grier were Roz met with me to work and hammer out that performance. I had so much fun planning, creating and rehearsing with Roz that by the time we got to the actual event I felt very confident and relaxed. She is more than a mentor and an inspiration in rehearsal she becomes a guiding mother, sister, and best friend that provides truth criticism and support in performance.
That monologue turned out to be a winner. The crowd loved it. One of the judges said "Some people have to work really hard at this and others are just born with it, Girl you are just born with it. You are inspirational". It was just so amazing.
To any actor trying to climb to the next step my one piece of advice would be prepare, prepare, prepare. And when you think you have prepared enough, prepare a little more. There are always kinks that can be ironed out. You should be so comfortable with the technical stuff that all you have to do is live in the moment and enjoy being on stage. This level of comfort comes only with preparation.
Red Wall has been nothing less than a gift, and I am elated to have found a home with them. No matter what kind of work you do with Red Wall, whether coaching, writing, or producing, they make you feel comfortable and exhilarated.
We work with the Growth Mindset. Anything is possible. Nothing is ordinary.