What Is a Monodrama?

A monodrama is a theatrical performance in which only one actor takes part. The audience witnesses the thoughts and actions of a single character, similar to a dramatic monologue. A monodrama follows a character’s internal development over time rather than inviting interaction between the character and his audience. Musical theater, opera, and plays are examples of this type of performance.

A one-person show is typically one act or setting long. The audience gets a glimpse into a single character’s mind and life, but they don’t get to see that character interact with others. Single characters are seen contemplating their lives and decisions in movie and television scripts, which have some parallels to the genre. The character’s experience in a typical solo play may involve the resolution of a conflict, character development, or exploration of a theme the author wishes to convey to the audience.

The monodrama as a genre was born in England during the Victorian era. It arose from the desire to demonstrate how one character can be explored through a series of self-imposed developments and actions rather than interactions with other characters. The character in these dramatic pieces is frequently dealing with the consequences of his own actions and reflecting certain attitudes, perceptions, and thoughts. These pieces can also delve into a character’s thoughts on possible future actions, which can act as a climax or resolution to the play’s central theme.

In a monodrama, the audience only sees one performer on stage because only one character is explored. Props and visual set elements may be used sparingly, as one of the performance’s goals is to immerse the audience in the character’s mind. Even though the character does not often address the audience directly, the single character and generally sparsely designed sets create a stronger focus and more intimate experience on that character.

In contrast to monodrama, monologues feature characters and performers speaking directly to the audience. While only one actor performs a monologue, it is usually clear that the actor is speaking to someone other than himself. A monologue also does not always place the character in a specific setting, evoke a theme, or develop the character’s psyche. Monologues are also frequently part of a larger performance.

A monodrama can be performed as an opera or musical in addition to being presented as a spoken, dramatic piece. Musical scores and songs are used to communicate the fictional being’s thoughts and story in these forms, which still feature one character. While the performer is portraying the character, the one-person show’s dialogue may mention or describe characters who are not visible to the audience.