Student-Written Monologues Deliver Myriad Emotions at ‘Mouthful’ Festival

Theater Review


The Mouthful Monologue Festival featured professional performances of monologues written by high school students from all over the Philadelphia area.

Christinna Longenecker, Staff Writer

From lighthearted, comical skits that left the audience in hysterics to heavy, potentially triggering performances, the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Mouthful Monologue Festival, on Thursday was the definition incredible. The actors within the studio took beautiful pieces of work composed by high school students and portrayed them in a fluent and respectful way.

The Mouthful Monologue Festival, held at the Drake Theater in Philly, exhibited the works of numerous high school students. Over 80 NAHS students took a bus to the city in order to see the performance, specifically, Haja Jalloh’s monologue “Glutton’s Sandwich” which had been selected after being submitted into a contest held by the Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Haja’s monologue had been performed by actress Macy Jae Davis.

It was apparent that the actors worked hard on memorizing the lines in order to make the show grand. This had to have been one of the reasons that the audience, all NAHS students and staff, was so responsive.

Towards the beginning of the day, the audience didn’t appear to be as into the program as the actors were- there was mindless chatter and phone usage- , but as time passed, it was clear that they were beginning to become far more involved. Two skits in particular that evoked a large reaction amongst the audience were ‘Reflections on Human Ways by Aidan McLaughlin and ‘Letting Go’ by Kaleigh Hall.

McLaughlin’s piece is about an alien who is learning the ways in which humans treat others, in particular, how men treat women. While this appears to be a primarily comical act, it actually touches on some pretty hard-hitting scenarios that really left the audience to think. Scenarios such as catcalling. In the script, the narrator is telling about the negative effects that catcalling brings, and how it’s much more effective to simply be respectful to a woman you’re interested in. This is a moral that many people should take the opportunity to learn from.

Hall’s piece was told in the perspective of a balloon- one that was released by a child during a party. This act held plenty of humor, so this aspect mixed with the actor’s hilarious Australian accent was enough to get a rise out of the viewers.

In contrast, many of the monologues that were presented were a lot more grim, but still eye-opening and alluring. Two monologues that really stuck out to me personally came from  the minds of Elizabeth Galpin, grade 11, and Aubrey Russo, grade 8.

‘Ketchup and Mustard’ by Elizabeth Galpin is the story of a child who is coming out to their mother as agender, an identity that isn’t as understood as the typical male and female. The narrator uses the example of ketchup and mustard to explain how they do not fit into the category of neither boy nor girl- or rather, ketchup or mustard.

This monologue is very important due to the fact that so many children and even adults today struggle with their identity, and to come out has got to be one of the hardest things for someone to do. This writer brings attention to this identity and explains it in a way that provokes you to listen.

‘What You’ve Done’ by Aubrey Russo follows a woman who has killed someone after a drunk driving accident. The ghost of the student continues to pressure her, asking- “do you really understand what you’ve done?”. The ending of this performance was particularly powerful, and even emitted a shocked  reaction from the audience.

Drunk driving is extremely dangerous, and in the case of this story, it actually results in the death of a student. The writer’s words are breathtaking and measures in on both the sorrow that the family of the victim experiences as well as the guilt that the driver must go through on a daily basis.

The Mouthful Monologue Festival was a great way to show students just how powerful their creativity can really be. The Norristown Area High School has plenty of programs that allow students to express this, even. The Scribbler, the literary magazine and the drama club are two great examples of this. As well as professing a grand way of exposing individuality, the monologue festival also provided viewers with amazing takeaways, such as insight on issues students may not have ever thought about until that moment- gender issues, sexual assault, and most important of all, alien communication.