Monica and Linda
A One-Act Opera by Paul Nelson
For Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Saxophone, piano
and two non-speaking roles.
Copyright (c) 2003 by Paul Nelson, all rights reserved.
First performed on April 29th, 2003
at the Theater Project in Baltimore, Maryland
as part of the Opera Etudes program of the Peabody Conservatory.
Monica Lewinsky................... Melanie Zayas
Linda Tripp................................ J.J. Hobbs
President............................ Trent Hollinger
FBI Agent.............................. Ryan Stadler
Process Server.................... Jeremy Blossey
Original Stage Direction....... Roger Brunyate
Original Program Notes:
Monica and Linda uses a text drawn from the actual transcript of the secret recordings which Linda Tripp made of her conversations with Monica Lewinsky along with E-Mail, Grand Jury testimony, and other communications from the evidence collected by the Office of the Independent Council (the Starr Report). The opera portrays several moments towards the end of their relationship when Linda becomes increasingly appalled by what she is hearing, and Monica eventually realizes that she has been betrayed and abandoned by those she trusts an loves.
Stage Setup for First Performance
Contents of basket, in order, from bottom to top:
Note: Both telephones should be cordless.
Monica Lewinsky A navy-blue, knee length, long sleeve, shirt-waist style work dress, and has a second (contrasting) costume off-stage.
Linda Tripp A red business suit
FBI Agent A black suit
Process Server Jeans, plaid shirt, cloth jacket
Distribute before the performance:
Linda Tripp Tape body wire to her torso or belt.
The President Sunglasses
The Process Server Clipboard with yellow pad, pen, two manila envelopes containing subpoenas to testify
FBI Agent Briefcase
The following is a true story. All statements made by LINDA and MONICA are taken from original source documents including tape transcripts, E-mail communications, and Grand Jury testimonies. The action in these opera scenes covers about 4 months of time from 10/1997 to 2/1998.
The stage should be divided into three areas. Stage far-left holds the piano and the saxophone player. The saxophone player represents the PRESIDENT and has a pair of dark shades (initially in his pocket).
Stage middle-left is MONICA's apartment. It contains a small table with a phone, a chair, and a wardrobe.
Stage right is the study of LINDA's house. It contains a desk with a tape recorder and a chair or two. The desk also holds a clear glass fish bowl, which contains some knick-knacks (keys, etc.) and a couple of audio-tape cassettes.
Initially the house is dark. We hear a phone ringing. It rings a couple of times.
LINDA TRIPP: (picks up the phone) Hello?
Linda Tripp's study is illuminated.
MONICA LEWINSKY: Hi Linda, it's Monica.
Monica's apartment is illuminated. Linda turns on the tape recorder.
LINDA: Oh, Hi Monica. Hey, I went to your hair salon.
MONICA: (distracted) Really? Did you have a good time?
LINDA: No. Well, first he took forever with it and I kept telling him "I want to grow out the bangs."
MONICA: And he cut the bangs?
LINDA: No. But he just trained it to the other side.
MONICA: (not really listening) Yeah.
LINDA: It's in my face, it's driving me nuts.
LINDA: Well, yours is beautiful. I told him I'd never seen hair like yours.
LINDA: (finally realizes something is wrong) OK, what's going on?
MONICA: No, it's… I -- You know what? I freak out when I think about not talking to him. Every time it just gets harder and harder to see him. Why is it so damn difficult?
LINDA: I know.
MONICA: …not having him in my life. And I freak out when I think about what's going on. I can't fucking win. I can't win.
LINDA: -- what's going on? Tell me what's going on.
MONICA: I talked to what's her face, like, a hundred times.
LINDA: Who? Betty Currie?
MONICA: Right, Betty Currie, his secretary. So, she said he can't see me today.
MONICA: Because of some dinner, dah, dah, dah.
LINDA: So what about after?
MONICA: Right… He's leaving on Wednesday.
LINDA: So maybe on Thursday?
MONICA: I started to think… this trip… it's all screwed up. This is ridiculous! I feel like such a stumbling idiot!
LINDA: Don't make apologies for yourself. It's a shitty situation.
MONICA: I know. But then, Betty called. She finally called! So I went to see him at last!
Monica moves to the PRESIDENT who comes out of the shadows to meet her. As he does so, he puts on his dark glasses. Monica gives him a tie as a gift.
MONICA: (reading from a greeting card, the text is from Romeo and Juliet) "With love's light wings did I o'er perch these walls; For stony limits cannot hold love out, And what love can do, That dares love attempt;"
The song is interrupted by a tape clicking noise. The tape has run out. Monica walks back to talk further with LINDA on the phone. The PRESIDENT fades into the background and puts on the tie that he just received.
LINDA frantically ejects the old tape and puts a new one in and turns the tape recorder back on.
MONICA: You know what's really weird? I keep hearing these double clicks.
LINDA: (hesitates) Uh… That's my gum?
MONICA: Oh, OK.
LINDA, relieved, puts the old tape into the fishbowl on the desk.
MONICA: But why is it so hard for me to get in to see him? If only I could get my job back at the Whitehouse! Then I wouldn't be having all these problems.
LINDA: You know what? At this point I don't give a shit if he ever calls you again.
MONICA: I know.
What you need to concentrate on now is getting that job in New York. They owe you that at least.
LINDA: I just want you taken care of.
LINDA: They owe you a new job in New York.
MONICA: But I can't…
LINDA: Worry about him another day when you're ensconced in a decent job!
MONICA: But, that's not who I am.
LINDA: I don't care who you are! Think about self preservation.
MONICA: I guess…
LINDA: You'll never work again at the Whitehouse. You're too threatening. Yes, it's possible you're too hard to resist. So what does that leave you with? Monica? I just want you the hell out of there.
MONICA: Yes, you're right, of course. I don't know what to do, but I can't do this anymore. He doesn't have the balls to tell me the truth, I just want the truth. I know, of course you're right.
LINDA: So, now what?
MONICA: Well, I'll just see him one last time?
MONICA: I don't think that's asking too much? Right?
LINDA: No! Of course not!
MONICA: That's right!
LINDA: What with every thing you've done for him? Yes!
MONICA: Right! Right! Okay! I'll give Betty a call. (aside to the audience) So I called her on Wednesday and blah, blah, blah, for three days, she couldn't, she wouldn't she didn't, she hadn't… But! then…
(confused, frustrated) maybe; I could; Friday; Sunday; Linda; Then it; Betty; then Bill; this thing; Vernon and Monica! Ape shit! Lost it! Crazy!
The hell if I know what's going on! (Monica starts sobbing)
(Gradually calming down) And then, Betty called. And we talked. Arrangements were made.
(PRESIDENT comes out from the background to meet Monica)
And I got to see him again!
(to the PRESIDENT) I cannot ignore what we have shared… I don't care what you say. It's not routine, not just release.
I watch your mouth, on my breast, see your eyes as you explore my sex. I need you now, not as the president, but as a man.
(PRESIDENT leaves, MONICA returns to her phone conversation with LINDA.)
MONICA: He's in love with me.
LINDA: Pffft. (rolls her eyes)
MONICA: All right, I'm going to bed now.
LINDA: All right, go to bed. Bye.
After they put the phones down, LINDA picks up the phone again and dials. Meanwhile, MONICA changes out of her navy-blue dress and then goes offstage to change into something else.
LINDA: Mr. Pike? You're a lawyer for the Paula Jones case, right? (pause) Um… Well, as I mentioned in my message, I feel strongly that the behavior has to stop, or should at least be exposed. (pause) She's a young girl right out of college, interned there, and that's when the relationship started.
The lights come on in LINDA's study. LINDA ejects another tape from the tape recorder. She attempts to put the tape into the glass fishbowl, but it is now full of tapes (26 of them), so if falls on to the desk. Annoyed, she balances it on top. She then leaves her study and goes to visit MONICA at her apartment.
The lights come on in MONICA's apartment. MONICA is writing a note at her writing table. MONICA's apartment is messy, with clothes everywhere and her navy-blue dress hung up or draped somewhere. LINDA steps into her apartment.
MONICA: Linda! (they hug, LINDA is uncomfortable hugging) Thanks for stopping by. Look! (walks over to the blue dress, but at the last minute bypasses it and picks up a tie instead) I got a tie… the creep a tie. (Shows the tie to LINDA, who is still looking hungrily at the dress) It was 20 bucks at Marshals. This will be the fifth one I've given him.
LINDA: (looking at the tie) Calvin Klein?
MONICA: Yeah, it's gorgeous. It's real different than all the other ones. But with the tie I wrote such a funny card, Linda. You know, at first I wrote -- "It'll look good with either a taupe or navy suit and a white or-- blue shirt, whatever you want." And, you know, I'm like…
LINDA: (aside to the audience) She's in love with Elvis! She's a mixed-up, unstable, volatile child.
MONICA: (while writing card) "And just think now you can pay homage to me if you want by having a work week in which you wear one of my ties every day."
LINDA: (aside) She's still in love. She's protecting the man she loves. But what about him? The president? What about him?
MONICA: (to LINDA) The truth, Linda, is that -- that having him in my life is more important to me than a job.
LINDA: (aside) Ahrg! I want to kick him in the nuts so they flatten into little pancakes so he can never us them again!
MONICA: (back to writing the card) "Handsome: You've been distant the past few months and have shut me out. Is it that you don't like me anymore, or are you scared?"
LINDA: (aside) It's sick. It's abuse. There's no way it's consensual. (horrified) If it were my daughter, if it were his daughter!
MONICA: (now speaking on the phone, she covers the receiver and talks to LINDA) I'm on hold with Betty Currie. She just said, "Well, he's standing right here with some Senators." She used Senators to put me off, can you believe it?
LINDA: (aside) His behavior has to stop. The corruption must be held accountable.
(LINDA looks at MONICA expecting an interruption, but MONICA is busy on the phone)
LINDA: (aside) It's my patriotic duty to ensure that people know! Duty, honor, country, loyalty. It's my governmental duty to report corruption.
MONICA: (angrily hangs up the phone) So, I told her we were supposed to get together, like, a month ago, and she didn't say anything. She just sat there, you know? Linda, if I ever want to have an affair with a married man again -- especially if he's the president -- please shoot me!
LINDA: (aside) This is yet another scandal from the president of dishonor, lying. With propaganda the likes of which Hitler would envy, and distortion that rivals Nazi Germany… (LINDA stops mid-sentence, she realizes she has gone too far)
A PROCESS SERVER walks on stage and interrupts. He is carrying two plain envelopes. He gives one each to MONICA and LINDA. They open the envelopes and read them.
MONICA: (shocked) Oh my god! It's a subpoena to testify for the grand jury!
Linda, however, is not surprised.
MONICA: (to PROCESS SERVER) Why? Why are you doing this? This is ridiculous!
LINDA: (to Monica) Monica, I'm finished.
MONICA: What do you mean?
LINDA: Leave me alone. I don't want your ranting or raving or analyzing anymore! Share this sick situation with somebody else. I'm past nauseated about the whole thing.
LINDA walks off stage.
MONICA: (trailing after her) I will respect that. Can I have your assurance that all we have shared remains between us? Can I still trust that? Linda?
(LINDA is gone, MONICA returns to her apartment.)
Monica listlessly wanders about her apartment, trying to tidy things up a bit. Eventually she gives up and goes upstage to see the PRESIDENT again. The PRESIDENT is seen wearing one of MONICA's ties. MONICA can view the PRESIDENT, but only from a distance.
MONICA: (To the PRESIDENT, who can not hear her) All I wanted was to hold your warmth, smell your smell, feel your touch… Why can't everyone else disappear?
During her speech, LINDA enters her study with an FBI AGENT. They pack up LINDA's notes and tapes and take them away.
MONICA: (To the PRESIDENT) I… You… You confuse me so much… I… thought that… I… you…
PRESIDENT takes off his tie and gives it to the pianist.
MONICA: I thought you were such a good person, with such a good heart. With so many experiences…
All you have ever had to do to pacify me is see me and hold me.
PRESIDENT fades away. LINDA comes back out to talk to MONICA.
LINDA: Monica! Listen, I've been thinking about you non-stop.
LINDA: Are you determined to protect the president?
MONICA: I… I love him… I don't want to cause him trouble.
LINDA: But what if somebody saw?
MONICA: It's their word against mine.
LINDA: I have a lot of fear, for my job, for my life…
MONICA: It will all go away, I think…
LINDA: Do you really believe that?
MONICA: Yes, (jokingly) unless you were the one to tell them… (apologizing) No, that's not what I'm saying. (dawning realization) unless you were the one… But no… which it's not… But no, no, no, no!
LINDA opens her blouse and takes off her body wire. She motions to the FBI agent who comes out on stage. LINDA gives the wire to the AGENT.
LINDA: (To Monica) They are here to give you a change to cooperate. They did the same thing to me. Please listen to me, Monica. This is the best thing for you.
MONICA: Why did I tell her? What have I done? What did you tell him? I don't want to cooperate!
LINDA tries to hug MONICA but is rebuffed.
MONICA: Oh my god.
MONICA goes off stage with the FBI AGENT. LINDA lingers for a moment.