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Yes, this is Yana Kesala. How did you guess?

August for 12 Tongues

In late April of 2014, my fantastic solo performer friend Yana Kasala (who played Princess in my production of interlace [falling star] years ago) asked me to contribute a monologue for her to perform in a piece she was developing called 12 Tongues. She actually asked a collection of her favorite playwrights to contribute, with the only guidance being that she would give each playwright a specific month of the year to use as inspiration for their piece.

Twelve tongues—one mouth. A dozen different playwrights collaborate to create a year of distinct voices.

Includes new work from Shane Adamczak, Kelleen Conway Blanchard, Llysa Holland, Juliet Waller-Pruzan, Monique Kleinhans, Sophie Croteau, Rowan White, Scotto Moore, Tracy Vicory-Rosenquest, Mark Brewster, Alissa Mortenson Tyka, and Yana Kesala.

I got August. The piece is below. Although Yana trimmed it in performance (cleverly, I might add) to make sure the whole evening was well paced (which it was!), the full piece is included here because weirdass wants to be free, on the internets, or something. Every now and then I get asked if I have any good monologues for women from any of my plays to use in auditions. I would not recommend using this one.


Thank you all for coming on short notice. We have a lot to cover tonight so I’d like to get things moving. We have three main items on our agenda. Number one - we need to agree on a new name for this year’s theme camp. Number two - we need to assign a few more volunteer crew heads to help get us to the playa. And number three - we need to discuss proposed changes to our camp’s installation art piece, because apparently the festival is scared it’s going to accidentally butcher half the population of Black Rock City. I know, I know - we all hate censorship, we all believe in radical self-expression, but if we want to keep our prime spot on the Esplanade, our giant sound-and-motion-activated human threshing machine will apparently need some modifications.

Anyway, first - our camp name. This was actually the initial red flag with BMOrg. I guess Camp Giant Sound-and-Motion Activated Human Threshing Machine made somebody a little curious. The best alternatives on the table: Camp Completely Safe and Innocuous, The Soft and Cuddly Village of Pillows and Ambient Music from 1998, and my personal favorite, Camp Absence of 30 Foot Tall Apparatus of Sharp Swinging 10 Pound Steel Blades Connected to Elaborate Drainage System for Human Blood. Fill out your secret ballot and pass it to me for counting.

Okay, next up, crew heads. So far, the kitchen is covered - you’ll get three squares a day with your camp fees, thank you Princess Valium and Johnny Mildly-Irritating for stepping up. We still need someone to organize a sound system and all the DJ shifts, and this is even more important now since we may need music to cover the sounds of people screaming if we get inspected by DPW, so let us know soon, folks. Finally, we need volunteers to drive the trucks, since our original plan of landing a cargo plane at the Black Rock City Airport was vetoed on the grounds that they don’t see a safe application for two dozen blades that are so big they will require cranes to lift from the tarmac to our camp. Which, that reminds me, cancel the crane rentals please, unless… well, do we have enough rope lights to disguise the cranes as art cars? Let’s inventory the storage space after this.

All right, people, here’s the main agenda item. Some of you were not on the email thread with BMOrg regarding their response to our grant application, so I wanted to just read the key points here. “Dear Camp Giant Sound-and-Motion Activated Human Threshing Machine, this is to inform you that we have rejected your request for grant funding for your proposed installation. Moreover, the Department of Public Works would like to inform you that if you attempt to assemble this installation on the Esplanade, they will descend upon you with a brute squad driving bulldozers and humvees and they will destroy your camp so thoroughly that pieces of those blades will still be surfacing from underneath the playa bed millions of years after the heat death of the universe. What you are proposing is not the kind of ‘art’ we prefer to support at Burning Man, namely, art that does not murder people. It is especially inappropriate given this year’s theme for the festival, which is of course, ‘Let’s All Get Along and Be Friends.’ We would be happy to consider an application that takes the festival theme into consideration, and also does not cut people into dozens of bloody chunks of human flesh. Sincerely, BMOrg.”

I know. I know. I mean, for starters, why do they think those blades would ever fragment into pieces? It’s just insulting to all the Steel Monkeys - Jimmy Clownface and Astronaut Lisa and Crazy Sociopathic Eddie - they all worked so hard to make sure those blades could handle the stress of smashing into human bones thousands of times in a week. It’s just serious craftsmanship and they think they can just… I mean, bulldozers are for knocking down third world villages and homeless camps, not large scale installation art, it’s just… Also, we had to start the CAD drawings for the machine months before they even announced the festival theme - and it’s just too late in the process to go back and make the machine “friendly” somehow while staying true to the vision of a machine that murders approximately half the people who get close to it. Anyway the festival theme is just a suggestion, there are plenty of camps who aren’t focusing on friendly, I mean, right across the street from us I happen to know they’re planning a whole series of cocktail parties where the key mixer each night is a different deadly poison from history, and I mean… is cyanide truly friendly? I mean, maybe, in a nice dry martini, as a rinse maybe, but my point is, I think we all know that we’re being singled out here. Maybe because people are still jealous about how popular our piece was last year, the 100’ diving board suspended above a smooth flat slab of concrete… but that’s just petty, and it’s… it’s disappointing.

So look, we just have to accept it - Burning Man is not prepared for visionaries like us, so we either sit this year out in protest, even though I know most of you have mortgaged your houses or sold your children into slavery to acquire tickets… or, we rally, and we use our greatest asset, the bold artistic creativity that brought us all together - and I guess also our second greatest asset, which is, our successful track record killing people off playa without getting caught - and we figure out a way to disguise our threshing machine, smuggle it in, set it up without anyone being the wiser, label the drainage system as “grey water” and not “human blood”, and make this a theme camp to remember. Let’s hear some ideas, people!

I see. I see. What do people think? Any objections?

OK, it’s unanimous, sounds like we have a plan. I’ve got a CD with ambient music from 1998. Who can bring pillows?

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