HANFORD — Monologues are about as stripped-down and bare as performative art can get. One speaker, one microphone, one audience. And sometimes you don’t even need the mic.
The Hanford Multicultural Theater Company will present the city’s first monologue slam March 31 and April 1.
The event will feature up to 30 artists, each given three minutes to give a compelling spoken monologue for the audience and judges. The winner will receive $500.
“Our associate artistic director, JP Rapozo, brought up the idea of the slam,” said Hanford Multicultural Theater Company Artistic Director Silvia Gonzalez. “He said, ‘a lot of big cities are doing them and Hanford should be the first small city.’"
Rapozo came in third at a recent monologue slam, Gonzalez said. And Gonzales, herself a performer and a playwright, also participated in monologue slams while in living in Chicago, where she studied improvisational acting at Second City.
“I loved the opportunity to go up in front of a crowd and perform urban poetry,” she said. “Sometimes you’d have to wait until 2 a.m., but that was part of the fun.”
Performers can sign up for the event now at www.hanfordmtc.com.
The monologues can be from plays, TV shows, movies or even written by the performer. However, all pieces must be contemporary, written after 1930. Otherwise, there are no content guidelines in place and there will be no censorship of words. However, performers cannot use multimedia effects or dangerous or messy items like food, candles, liquids or open flames.
But what’s the difference between a monologue slam and its more popular artistic cousin, the poetry slam?
“There can be no difference,” Gonzalez said. “It just depends on your take on the subject matter. Poetry on a mic is dramatic and lends itself to these performances.”
The event is planned to take place in front of the Bastille downtown. All performers will take the stage the first night, with the top eight to 10, returning for the next night’s finals to perform again for the judges’ final scores.
Any age is welcome and the slam already has a couple of youngsters signed up. Gonzalez’ elementary school-aged improv students, Even and Nikol Jorgens, will perform at the event.
Gonzalez said that younger participants will take the stage early in the event.
And while the monologue slam is there for performers to speak on issues they’re passionate about and to perform for a crowd, it’s also an event that is a little different for fans of performance art.
“When the audience receives the monologue, I want them to enjoy it. I want every monologue to be a crowd-pleaser,” Gonzalez said.
The theater company also has plans for an outdoor production of a famous contemporary play that Gonzalez couldn’t name until the rights to it have been paid for. The play, whatever it ends up being, is set to be performed in front of the courthouse downtown sometime around the Fourth of July.
Gonzales said that, should the company’s plan to make the monologue slam an annual event, the three pillars of its event schedule will be a summer play in the park, the monologue slam in spring and its annual Dia de Los Muertos event.