Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monologue: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

After watching the movie with my girlfriend, she gave me her copy of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and showed me a monologue by Prince Lir delivered toward the end of the story. Even though the monologue is not featured in full in the movie, I was drawn to it because of Jeff Bridge's delivery of an excerpt from it: "The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story."

This is the first monologue I've ever taken from a book. It's not an uncommon practice, and I'm actually pretty sure most people think it's cool, because it's kind of do-it-yourself. And as long you're transcribing it, it's a good idea to tailor your monologue to your liking, making cuts or substitutions you need. You're the one auditioning, after all.

There is a lot of subtext here. Prince Lir has changed a lot for the sake of the unicorn, and there's a real sense of history behind each line. But it is dangerous to get caught up in the subtext of any piece as it relates to its source material. Decisions you make in regards to the original story mean little to whoever you audition for. Everyone needs to find a reason to perform the monologue that they choose, but intentions can get muddled without the proper context. You can't want something on behalf of your character because you think it's what they need. You must want it because you need it.

It all comes down to the text, always. It's what you use, and in the end it's what they hear. Is Lir a true hero? Is he proud to be a hero? Or is he pretending? Is he better than a hero? What was it all for?

My lady, I am a hero. It is a trade, no more, like weaving or brewing, and like them it has its own tricks and knacks and small arts. There are ways of perceiving witches, and of knowing poison streams; there are weak spots that all dragons have, and certain riddles that hooded strangers tend to set you.

But the true secret of being a hero lies in knowing the order of things. The swineherd cannot already be wed to the princess when he embarks on his adventures, nor can the boy knock at the witch’s door when she is away on vacation. The wicked uncle cannot be found out and foiled before he does something wicked.

Things must happen when it is time for them to happen. Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left to rot like unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not forever. The happy ending cannot come in the middle of the story.

Heroes know about order, about happy endings – heroes know that some things are better than others.

You were the one who taught me. I never looked at you without seeing the sweetness of the way the world goes together, or without sorrow for its spoiling. I became a hero to serve you, and all that is like you. Also to find some way of starting a conversation.

1 comment:

  1. I am suggesting to see "The Last Unicorn" to become a live action remake. I hope if one of the screenwriters can go over Peter S. Beagle's best selling fairy tale. When I was really young watching this animated movie ? It brings a deeper imagination through fantasy to reality. I hope in the future we can see this get a remake.