Today, I was watching this talk on TED.com and in it, Young-ha Kim uses the term “monodrama.” Now I consider myself pretty geeky when it comes to theater and theater terms and this one caught me by surprise. I had never before heard the term “monodrama” so I looked it up.
I found some great answers to this question. Answers.com defines it thus:
A monodrama has a beginning, middle and end, where a monologue can just be a fragment of speech spoken in soliloquy.
The Wikitionary defines it:
monodrama (plural monodramas)
(theater) A play in the form of a monologue
Whereas they define a monologue as:
monologue (plural monologues)
(drama) A type of art that consist of soliloquy, a long speech by one person.
(comedy) A long series of comic stories and jokes as an entertainment.
A long, uninterrupted utterance that monopolizes a conversation.
And the website Wisegeek, has a whole page to what a monodrama is, including this in their introduction:
A monodrama is a theatrical performance that involves one actor. It is similar to a dramatic monologue in that the audience witnesses the thoughts and actions of a single character. Rather than invite some type of interaction between the character and his audience, a monodrama follows a character’s internal development over a period of time. This type of performance can be found in musical theatre, opera, and plays.
The typical length for a one-person show is one-act or setting. The audience catches a glimpse into the psyche and life of a single character, but does not get to see that character interact with others. Some parallels to the genre exist in movie and television scripts, where single characters are seen contemplating their lives and decisions. In the typical solo play, the character’s experience may involve the resolution of a conflict, may show development of the character, or may be used to explore a theme the author wishes to convey to the audience.
That is one of the best definitions of it I found. So taking those definitions, we can surmise that a monologue is a single selection or speech that is most often part of a larger piece, whereas a monodrama is more dramatic and singular in form (a complete play in and of itself) that features one actor (similar to a one-person show). A monodrama is more about creating a character then making a speech.
Why did this interest me? Well as a writer of 10-Minute plays that often feature one actor, this is the kind of information I should know. As a director and educator, I should know the correct terminology. And while I still may refer to one of my pieces as a monologue, I feel they fit more into the form of a monodrama. Feel free to judge for yourself at my Smashwords page, where I have 3 such pieces published and 90% of it is free to read for yourself. You can also purchase those selections there for $0.99 apiece.