Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My POV of Autumn Leaves a monologue by Don Nigro

It's 1927 and Jessie, who is a young woman in her twenties, speaks to the audience. There is the sound of ticking clocks, which is a definite Nigro trademark. This monologue gets into the theory that "loss of innocence" is a type of death. So, since Nigro begins with imagery from Autumn Leaves by John Everett Millais we ascertain that he's making a point about young girls losing their virginity...which ties into nature..the seasons...etc...there is a lot of symbology.

Then Jessie mentions her brother (actually half-brother) John Rose and the plot takes a surprising turn. If you are familiar with Don Nigro's work you should already be acquainted with John Rose. Here Nigro mentions another great artist, Edvard Munch, who is quite different from Millais. The comparison of Jessie to a girl standing in a Munch painting could foreshadow steps into darkness. Munch's work often has a nightmarish quality which is apparent on the surface. While Millais' work is crisper on the surface and can contain more hidden meanings.

Also an interesting fact; Edith Piaf did an interpretation of the legendary Jacques Prévert song by the same name...Autumn Leaves. So here we begin to discover the layers Nigro has effortlessly woven into this seemingly patched together monologue. That is one of Nigro's trademarks...his work frequently comes across as being written with no specific destination in if he doesn't know what he is doing. And maybe he doesn't know, but in the process the more that I uncover within his work the more that I am impressed by the results. The historical references, the alliterations, the gentle touch, how he guides the actor into different states of being ever so softly.

Nigro also mentions that John Rose was in King Lear, then later he mentions the term Jacobean play, King Lear was a Jacobean play as far as I can tell. In this monologue it is always autumn, because we are hearing a story told by a ghost who is trapped in the autumn leaves. Everything is circular here and begins where it ends and ends where it begins. There is no specific destination in mind, it is like an odyssey of interconnected clues and hints to the actress. I would recommend this monologue to a young woman in her twenties mainly because there are a lot of subtle nuances that would challenge her. And of course the more that you read of Nigro, I think the more you will respect him. Although rather underrated, he is definitely a reliable source for actors today. His work is rich with history, yet modern...a difficult combination to come by.

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