|Written by||Sam Shepard|
Tongues is a 1978 play by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin.Tongues is a series of monologues set to percussion and meant for one actor. Shepard and Chaikin had previously agreed to do a piece surrounding the concept of the voice, and nearing completion of the piece, decided it required some kind of musical accompaniment. It was first performed at the Magic Theatre in San Francisco, by the playwrights themselves: Chaikin provided the voice of the speaker, and Shepard as the director and instrumentalist. The play is written so that actors who wish to perform the piece can experiment with the stage directions, which are minimal aside from the percussion directions.
The play is set on a bare stage, with a single chair draped in a Mexican blanket for the speaker. The stage is essentially black, except for the blanket. The sole character is the speaker, who begins telling the story of a nameless man. The speaker then goes on to impersonate different people such as a mother, a worker, and a "voice to a Blind One". A highlight of the play is described as the "Hunger Dialogue" in the script, which involves a contradictory exchange between two characters (both played by the speaker). The voice for each character are made distinct from each other only by the tone the speaker uses for each.
In theatre, a monologue is a speech presented by a single character, most often to express their thoughts aloud, though sometimes also to directly address another character or the audience. Monologues are common across the range of dramatic media, as well as in non-dramatic media such as poetry. Monologues share much in common with several other literary devices including soliloquies, apostrophes, and asides. There are, however, distinctions between each of these devices.
Samuel Shepard Rogers III was an American actor, playwright, author, screenwriter, and director whose career spanned half a century. He won 10 Obie Awards for writing and directing, the most won by any writer or director. He wrote 58 plays as well as several books of short stories, essays, and memoirs. Shepard received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1979 for his play Buried Child and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of pilot Chuck Yeager in the 1983 film The Right Stuff. He received the PEN/Laura Pels Theater Award as a master American dramatist in 2009. New York magazine described Shepard as "the greatest American playwright of his generation."
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