In June, Arena Stage announced a national contest for three-minute monologues held in conjunction with the world-premiere of Our War. More than 150 entries from around the world were submitted and three winners were selected. The winning monologues will be read on stage at a post-show event following the 8:00pm performance on November 6, 2014.
Below is Mary/Marcus by Sarah Pitard, an actress and writer, originally from Champaign, IL, who holds an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she currently resides. Her radio play Plus One was the recent winner of The UK Actors' Guild's Write Bites competition and will be recorded in association with Wireless Theatre Company this fall. Her plays The Inappropriateness of Love and Freedom, Books, Flowers, and the Moon have been performed in London, and her short film Not Love goes into production in the New Year.
Mary/Marcus by Sarah Pitard
I should have been a boy.
Father, you always used to say it. “Oh look at Mary, tall as an oak tree. Oh look, Mary is stronger than Jack and she’s three years younger. Look at Mary, shooting straighter than the line on the horizon.”
I’ve never felt… right… in this skin. And I know that Mother would probably say I was insulting God, but I’m not. I’m not saying that God makes mistakes, but…Perhaps giving me this opportunity to fight for the freedom of a people, to carry a flag in my hand… for God and Country—A union that must not be broken… maybe that’s why He made me this way. Taller…
I was never very good at the spinning wheel.
I fooled them all, father. I borrowed Jack’s coat, pinched a pair of boots from Thomas across the field, and headed over to Maryland. From there, I was sent down to Mississippi to spy on enemy lines. I used to bring back little notes of information on crumpled up pieces of yellow paper. “You’ve got really nice handwriting for a young man,” they said.
I met Madeleine at the shop where I worked. I would converse with her on slow days, while I waited to be assigned on a new mission.
I never should have led her to believe that we could have a future together. Who would have thought my greatest sin in this whole charade would be to break the heart of an innocent young thing like Madeleine. I should have never let it go as far as it did. I suppose if God is angry with me, this would be the greatest sin I have committed… breaking her heart…
It wasn’t simply an act, father, it was a way of life…as if I had actually become Marcus Cunningham, store clerk and Union spy. The papers were drawn up and signed, the chapel was notified, and the marriage date was set. My happiness was boundless. That is, of course, until I was overcome with the reality of the wedding night, and how it could never come to pass… In a panic, I told her I’d been called in for duty and that I couldn’t bare the thought of making her a widow. She was inconsolable… Her father became suspicious, and when I couldn’t prove my story, I had no choice but to run… and now, she knows the truth of my identity…
I’ve returned the ring I bought for her. The money is upstairs in mother’s jewelry box. Take it. I promise to repay you all that Madeleine’s family have asked from you in compensation for breaking the marriage contract. I’ll make sure that they are generously remunerated, and I hope that this gesture of my shame will help to alleviate their own sorrow and anger at what I’ve done… But it surely won’t atone for it….
One evening, when I was traveling back up to my battalion, I stopped on a hillside to admire the glorious Southern sunset, full of fire and amber. I was suddenly met with a strong sense of peace. I took off my boots, and the wrapping, which I had made for my blistered feet, and I felt the grass slip in-between my toes—A feeling of being a part of something new on the horizon, being a part of something astonishing and unknown. And in that moment, I knew that whatever happens, I will carry on— as if God was talking to me and reassuring me that everything would turn out as it should… that all things would one day be in their correct order.
Because one day, father… one day, all people will be free to be whoever and whatever they wish to be.
And I hope that one day you will forgive me….and that Madeleine will forgive me too.
I wonder if she still loves me the way I love...
I should have been a boy.