We recognise that not everyone may have a writing sample to send in. Throughout our Year 1, we’ve carried out Open Writing Labs across England where we meet some of the brilliant writers and facilitated the process of creating a monologue about home inspired by the Paines Plough’s audio project Come to Where I’m From.
Below are some exercises, based on our Open Writers Lab workshop, which you may wish to use to create a short monologue to submit as part of your application.
These exercises are entirely optional. No preference will be given to anyone who submits a different writing submission. We have only created this to acknowledge that some very new writers may not have something to submit. We don’t want to create any unnecessary additional work for the application process.
Ask yourself the following question:
What is home to you? Is it a place? Or is it a feeling?
Depending on whether you think of home as a place or a feeling, here are some provocations and prompts to help you to consider what home means.
If you want to talk about a place, these questions might help you drill down.
If you want to talk about a feeling, these questions might help you drill down.
After having a think about these questions, take 2-5 minutes to write down a paragraph saying “what home is and what does home mean to you”.
Based on your idea of what home means to you, using the prompts above, identify one thing that you think might help to form a particularly interesting story.
We’re now going to distill those ideas down into their simplest form by creating a haiku.
A haiku is a form of poetry that originates from Japan. It typically contains three lines and 17 syllables. The first line contains five syllables, the second line contains seven syllables and the third line contains five syllables.
Here are two examples:
The Old Pond
An old silent pond
A frog jumps into the pond –
Splash! Silence again.
I Am Pigeon
My home is on great statues
We encourage you to try to find beats, changes, story, heart, emotion in your haikus that represent the story that you want to tell. Write as many haikus as you want until you feel that you understand your story.
Sometimes one of the key ingredients that go amiss when creating a monologue based on home is the sense of stakes. We get so comfortable in the familiarity that we forget we’re writing something to be performed on stage to people who do not necessarily have the same emotional connection to the material as you do.
In those cases, giving your piece a sense of stakes, that something of value can be gained or lost, that there is an unanswerable or knotty question at the heart of the play can help your audience to feel invested.
This can be anything but we like to suggest three examples of stakes:
Have a think about your story idea and what you think is at stake. It might be one, two or all three. See if you can identify them.
If you can, consider ways you might increase that stake.
Remember, you’re writing a piece of drama for stage. Not a biography. You’re allowed to take a bit of creative licence to see your vision come true if you wish.
Think about the form of your play and what will help to enhance the drama of what is happening and encourage your audience to get more invested. Here is an example to consider:
The monologue is about the challenging relationship between a son and his recently deceased mother. What monologue form would increase the drama of the piece:
In the example above, we think that B would provide the most drama for several reasons:
Consider your story and different forms that might work for you. Try to pick a form that you think will enhance the drama of your piece. Here are just five examples but there are many more:
These different forms and settings all offer different things. Have a think what might suit your story.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. With everything that you’ve considered in the previous four exercises, begin writing your monologue. We encourage you to write without pausing using whatever medium you prefer (pen and paper, typing on a laptop, voice note). Pick a method to write that you think you’ll be able to do without interruption, without thinking too much, writing purely from instinct.
Begin your 30 minutes and write your monologue!