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Alan Bennett: On the art of the monologue & being teenage "jailbait"
To mark Alan Bennett's 80th birthday, this is an updated post based on an In Conversation with the playwright, diarist and screenwriter at the British Film Institute in March last year. It was focussed on his skills with the monologue, as part of a season of TV monologues. It was filmed by the BFI but is currently not available online. My quotes are mostly paraphrases, written up immediately after the event, as I couldn't take notes at the time. I'd wondered in advance if a modern young audience would be able to watch the monologues. Often 50 minutes long, carefully building up through distinct "acts" -- set days, weeks apart, from little hints dropped in the earlier scenes, they require an attention span that allows you to get drawn into the devasting mix of humour and pathos. Interestingly Alan Bennett said teachers often sent him their students' monologues, but that they mostly missed entirely how his worked. "They tend to be stream of consciousness and confessional; telling you