Monologic ethics: The single speaker as discursive partner in Anna Deavere Smith’s Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 | Intellect Skip to content
Ethical Dramaturgies
  • ISSN: 1757-1979
  • E-ISSN: 1757-1987


This reflective article asserts that the monologue form helps audiences and readers ask ethical questions concerning the relationship(s) between subjectivity and communal identity formation. , researched, written and originally performed by Anna Deavere Smith, serves as this article’s primary textual example of a monologic play. The play’s monologic form embodies ethical possibility through its attentiveness to multiple perspectives and intersubjective dialogue developed from Smith’s interviews following the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict. Because the violence against Rodney King (like the more recent murder of George Floyd) was recorded on video, the play’s monologic ethics also engage with, and sometimes against, technological evidence of institutional racism. Monologues, and especially soliloquies, function within larger dialogic plays as a mirror – a reflection of consciousness. These minor generic variations in dialogic plays here become ’s primary organizing principle, thus transgressing traditional genre laws. Earlier twentieth-century monologic texts, by Beckett and others, resignified and problematized the soliloquy’s relationship to identity-formation. The paradigm of an isolated single subjectivity, such as Hamlet or even ’s Edmund, is sedimented into classical form. Smith’s play, , like Shange’s monologic text, , without one central protagonist, restructures and reframes the dramatic monologue to allow a closer look at the ethics of how we live with our own fragmented selves.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): drama; ethics; literature; monologue; soliloquy; theatre
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