The Smart People Monologues

Smart People opens with a cascade of overlapping monologues. Each character — Valerie, an actress; Brian, a neurobiologist; Jinny, a sociologist; and Jackson, a medical student — is in their professional element, a situation which is inevitably caught up in their class, race, and other markers of identity. As the play unfolds, Lydia R. Diamond reveals how each of the characters makes knee-jerk assumptions about the others; here, we give you a glimpse of the characters as you’ll meet them onstage.

VALERIE:
(playing Portia)
"You stared upon me with ungentle looks...” That needs more attack, doesn’t it? (putting all of her graduate school training into it) You stared upon me with ungentle looks, I urged you further...I urged you further and...line (beat) LINE please! "And you too impatiently stamped with your foot And with an angry wafture of your hand...” Oh five? We’re breaking? Now? O.K. Thank you. Five minutes.

BRIAN:
Unacceptable! Come on guys. You’re supposed to be the best and brightest we have. What is this? With the exception of three promising students you have all failed miserably. (beat) So. Mr. Goldstein, Ms. Jones, and Mr. Shwargadala, congratulations...you deserve to be here...You are excused from today’s lecture. Really, you can go. I’m giving you the day off. For being smart. Go! Thank you.

GINNY:
We tracked subjects from the original 2003 study, interviewing 350, third generation Asian-American women, adding a fourth ethnic affiliation: Vietnamese, a population not previously included. The sample now includes women, 22-24, of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese descent. (beat) Yes, I’m happy to take questions about our population selection criteria....

JACKSON:
Yes sir. I do understand. The patient is experiencing an excess of drainage from the wound. My concern is that should it gangranize into...(pause) True, I am only a surgical intern. Still, you asked that I explain my diagnostic reasoning. I’m trying to but (interrupted)...

BRIAN:
Can someone explain what this is...(circling a row of numbers)...Good...Now, please...someone tell me not what it is but what it implies...Am I a bad teacher? I don’t think so. I’m told that I am an engaging, passionate lecturer...

JACKSON:
...yes, and I do have a point, if I could just...

GINNY:
Now, three years later, the findings still debunk Western assumptions naming primary causes for anxiety and depression in Asian women as familiarly induced. (interrupted) Yes, I’m happy to go over Western attitudinal studies...

JACKSON:
I am listening. I was listening.


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