Where does your monologue come from?

Who has not heard of Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, and his famous monologue “To be or not to be….”?

In this classic theatre moment, Hamlet is expressing out loud his inner conflicts and thoughts, the story going through his mind, as he tries to figure out what to do next.


It’s as if the thoughts going through his mind are so pressing, that they are forced out loud.


For some, it is only in moments of intensity where we allow our inner voice to blurt out loud. Some people speak their inner thought out loud all of the time, no matter the situation. And some people don’t have inner narrators to begin with. Some see images, for others, it is sounds, and then there are those whose minds are mostly empty. Many people don’t actually know what is crossing their mind, as they aren’t really paying full attention to what is going on.

No matter what your experience is, the one thing that we can all share an experience of, even just for one second, is a quiet, blank mind. Not having anything cross your mind at all, even for just one second, is very useful as it is the best way to begin to be able to see what actually is crossing your mind.

When you can see what stories you are telling yourself, how your mind works, then that becomes something very useful for you, as the artist in the theatre and as a human being.


It is a fundamental skill that is needed for greater depth.

That blank empty moment before the words start is like the moment, in the theatre, when the audience is seated, and the lights go down. Everything is dark and everyone quiets down. This moment of ‘nothing’ is precisely what allows the moment of ‘something’ to occur. The stage is dark, then suddenly, a curtain rises, a light appears, a voice is heard, and the show begins.

This is the same thing that is happening in most people’s minds. The mind is a blank for a moment, then all of a sudden something triggers a thought to come out of this blank space. This thought leads to another thought, fueled by emotions, and the show in our minds is well underway and we are swept away by it.

This show in our minds leads us to act in certain ways. And it is these actions, ultimately, that define us.

That is why, in theatre, the ‘monologue to oneself’ is an important part of that tradition: often it reveals the path to action.

Creativity often works in a cycle. Since we’ve got to start somewhere in the cycle, we are going to start with the ‘empty’ step. By emptying the mind first, it can help us to see what crosses our mind.

Below is the 2019 recording on the ‘empty’ as a starting point. It was the first in a series of four audio lectures that brought participants through a one-month experience, where we looked at each part of the creative cycle. For our purposes now, we are focusing on just the first step, so please ignore any directions pointing towards future sessions in this recording.


Listening to the below recording is by no means mandatory. If you feel drawn to it, great. If not, then you can move along to the next tabs.

ENGLISH Out Loud session one spring 2020
FRANÇAIS Out Loud process PAUSE audio FR - 2020-0

Taping - this is how it works:

As for the actual recording session, this is what happens:

Director and participant meet, either in studio or online.

The director records participant sharing how their mind is working and what their mind is thinking in the moment, within the given context.

Director selects the audio section(s) that we are going to use for the next part.

Director plays back to participant their audio recording, and visually records them listening to it. 

It’s in the relationship between the two that we are finding some really compelling moments.

For participants, there are a few ways you can approach it:


  1. just wing it, close your eyes and let your mind release the words/thoughts/stories/music (improvise) and we’ll record it

  2. think about it and plan/structure it a bit more - (performance)

Both work just as well when you are speaking your “truth,” your “gut”. 

If you decide to improvise it, which is totally fine and many of you choose to work this way, a section or sections will be selected from the improvisation.

The project works best if it’s 10 seconds to maximum one minute long and will be edited down to that length, or you can also choose to make a shorter entry.

Everyone who does a full taping will see the final result and at that time will choose if it can be made public.

However, we want to state again here that anyone approaching us to do a taping is aware that our intention is to share them publicly, but we do understand that improvisation requires a different approach to curation.

A final, but most important, thought:  being able to take a moment like this and use it for self-reflection, is a true privilege. We are privileged to have computers and the internet and time.

In some religions, people work hard their entire lives, have families, and only when they are old and retired is it their time to be supported by others and they can take the time to “self-reflect.”  Buddha was royalty and could afford the self-reflection that eventually led him to leaving his riches behind.

It is also our true privilege to be able to share some things we have learned about the creative process.

It is with gratitude that we participate in this project, realizing that not all have the time and capacity to do so. We hope that it will serve all well.

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