Alumni film ‘Four Monologues’ becomes mobile


Courtesy Four Monologues

John Mossman was an actor in the film “Four Monologues” in which each character delivers a monologue. 

By Campus Reporter

Columbia professors and alumnirecently collaborated to make poet, novelist and biographer Aram Saroyan’s manuscript “Four Monologues” into a performance by turning it into a short film.

Originally published in a play called “The Laws of Light” written by Saroyan, “Four Monologues” was initially a book project in 2011 by former professor Clifton Meador’s Advanced Print Media class in the Center for Book, Paper & Print.

“I first saw the book after it was done and was amazed at the ingenuity and beauty of what they had done,” Saroyan said in a Jan. 26 emailed statement.s 

Brian Shaw, a professor in the Theatre Department and a 1986 alumnus who directed the film, worked with a team of alumni and professors to create it.

“[The executive producer] called me one day out of the blue and told me they had these monologues and they were looking to do a performance,” Shaw said. “I saw the book and thought it was beautiful.”

Just under 27 minutes, the film humanizes the characters through scenes dedicated to one character talking to the camera. It focuses on four Russian poets attempting to understand each other and the world around them in Stalinist Russia.

The film also featured several performances from members of the Columbia community, including John Mossman, an adjunct professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, Stephanie Shaw, an alumna and senior lecturer in the Theatre Department, and Jessica Ann McCloud, a 2004 theatre alumna.

The film, book, interviews and behind-the-scenes photos of the filming process have been released through a mobile app on iOS and Android platforms.

The film also features animation by Ron Fleischer, an associate professor in the Cinema Art + Science Department, original composition by Ilya Levinson, an associate professor in the Music Department, with design, production by David McNutt, a former professor in the Audio Arts & Acoustics Department, and other contributions from alumni Oliver McNutt and Derek Fisher.

The book designed by Meador’s class consists of four separate sleeves to hold the monologues in. The reader can pull each character’s monologue out of the sleeve, representing a “pocket of memory.”

Shaw and his team added another layer to the characters by giving them an audible voice and a face to attach the prose to, Shaw said.

“It is an art film and the performances are really beautiful,” Shaw said. “There is a lot of emotion and thought in the material and the film captured that.”