Form 5 have been writing and performing great monologues this term based on the character of Michael, the hero in Kensuke’s Kingdom by Michael Morpurgo.
Michael finds himself washed up on a tropical island with his pet dog, Stella Artois, where the only other inhabitant is a fierce little man, Kensuke, who insists that Michael should obey his draconian set of rules.
In this scene, on which the monologues are based, Michael is upset that Kensuke has put out his fire – his only means of escape! It is Michael’s feeling of anxiety and frustration that the children have sought to capture in their monologues.
The monologues are little more than a minute of performance yet they represent the culmination of an enormous amount of work for the children, to say nothing of the courage required to speak in front of their classmates and allow themselves to be filmed.
Kensuke’s Kingdom is an ideal stimulus for this genre of writing as Michael himself narrates the story. His voice is clear and strong, making it easy for the children to empathise with his predicament.
Essentially, what is needed is a deeply felt reflection on the character’s experiences, provoking the use of highly emotive language and forthright opinions. Rhetorical questions are important because they help the character begin to make sense of what is happening. In Kensuke’s Kingdom, the presence of Stella the dog provides Michael with an obvious focus for his questioning. In the absence of a real live dog, Form 5 found a couple of soft toy friends who were happy to step in and play Stella’s part!
Writing the monologues wasn’t as straightforward as writing pure narrative because stage directions are required throughout, noting down movements and when Michael gets particularly angry and raises his voice. Once written and edited, some pupils memorised them perfectly.
For some children the most daunting aspect of the entire project is the performance which led to more editing as the children grappled with the fact that spoken language is not what they are particularly used to writing down at school. This writing had to sound just right to be authentic when performed and the use of actions had to flow and appear natural.
Here for you to enjoy is a compilation of a few of monologues, designed to give you a flavour of what has been achieved this term.