More Monologues

More Monologues

Draper composed more than fifty monologues over the course of her career, seventeen of which are available on CD:


1. A Children's Party in Philadelphia

This is the umpteenth holiday party for a beleaguered mother and her brood. ("I have four, and they're all monsters.") Ruth Draper's society women are the most beloved of her characters, with this ridiculous Philadelphia matron a typically entertaining example of the breed. First performed in 1922.

2. A Scottish Immigrant at Ellis Island

As young Lesley MacGregor arrives at Ellis Island from a tiny town in Scotland, she bids her shipmates farewell and scans the crowd for Sandy, her husband-to-be. The touchingly dramatic "Immigrant," composed before 1913, was one of Draper's most popular monologues, and was the last she performed at the Playhouse Theatre on Broadway on December 29, 1956. Later that night, she died in her sleep at her New York apartment.

3. Showing the Garden

An Englishwoman proud of her garden takes a visitor, Mrs. Guffer, on a tour. The only problem: nothing is at its best. Such a shame, too, because her Glubjullas, Seccalikums and other highly unusual flora are usually so exquisite. "Garden" found an especially appreciative audience among Draper's many British fans. It was first performed before 1920. The recording is being released here for the first time.

4. At an Art Exhibition in Boston

Ruth Draper's satire, even when piercing, is never cruel. In that vein comes "Art Exhibition," which gently skewers both artists and patrons of the arts as a woman from Boston leads her young niece Mary, her Cousin Kate, and a friend around an exhibit of paintings. The piece was first performed in the early 1920s. This recording is previously unreleased.

5. In a Railway Station on the Western Plains

A woman working the late shift at a small town railway station is going about her quotidian duties when a call comes through that a train has crashed, resulting in many casualties. While she sets up the station as a makeshift emergency ward, she awaits word of Jerry, her fiance and the engineer of the wrecked train. During her lifetime, "Railway Station" was a popular favorite with Draper's audiences, but because of its melodramatic aspects, was probably the most parodied of her works. Marc Connelly, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Algonquin Round Table regular, concocted a spoof entitled "Train Wreck on the Western Prairie" which he performed at parties. According to author Louis Auchincloss, the spoof was particularly funny because Connolly was "overweight and bald, and he did the gestures so well." The monologue - the real thing, not the parody -- was first performed on November 17, 1920 in Cambridge, England, less than a year after Draper made her professional debut. This recording is previously unreleased.


1. Opening a Bazaar

A British dowager performs her annual duty of opening the village bazaar. This requires a brief speech, much meeting and greeting, and the purchase of many locally produced items, including gilded bulrushes ("I know exactly where I'll put them.") and tambourines painted with, among other things, the Houses of Parliament, from the brush of "a little crippled girl...She's never walked but she paints beautifully." "Bazaar" was probably composed in 1929, when Draper described it in a letter to a friend. The recording is released here for the first time.

2. Three Generations in a Court of Domestic Relations

With its three characters - a grandmother, her daughter and her granddaughter - "Three Generations" is one of only two sketches Draper acknowledged as having been based on real people. (Draper knew a family court judge and once sat in on a session in his courtroom.) The three are in court seeking resolution of a domestic dispute. The 19-year-old granddaughter, who is the sole support of her sickly mother and aged grandmother, wants to quit her job as a stenographer, marry her boyfriend and move out West, leaving her mother and grandmother in a home for the aged and infirm. Not surprisingly, they do not support the plan. Audiences were wowed by Draper's simple use of a shawl to clearly differentiate the characters: for the grandmother, she pulled it tight around her face; to play the daughter, Draper let the shawl fall to her shoulders, with one part wrapped under a paralyzed arm; for Rosie, the young girl, she dropped the shawl entirely. First performed before 1920.

3. In a Church in Italy

Because the last section of the six-part "Church" is silent, only five of the characters are heard on the recorded version. One by one, often accompanied by unseen friends, the five characters file through a beautiful art-filled church in Italy. The first is a British painter with a friend, who exits as an Italian crone comes begging for alms. A group of German tourists are next, then a young Italian girl with her lover. Finally, in the lengthiest and funniest of the sections, a group of American tourists absorb the art while discussing other attractions, including an American beauty parlor with all the comforts of home. Composed in 1925.

4. Three Imaginary Folk-Songs

Draper had never visited Sweden, the Slavic states, or any Arab countries when she created these songs, and was later amused to learn that her invented languages sounded a lot like the real thing. In an interview with Studs Terkel, Draper said that while she intended the brief pieces to be satirical, audiences sometimes thought she was actually trying to sing. When that happened, she said, "It rather spoils the effect that I want to create." First performed in 1922.

5. A Debutante at a Dance

Even a year or two before her death at the age of 72, Draper was able to pull off "Debutante," a portrait of a silly young woman just "out" in society. Draper first performed the piece before 1913. This recording is previously unreleased.