How to Choose a Winning Monologue for Auditions
by Neva J. Howell
Free Acting Class
This is part of my series on the creative arts and, in particular, the craft of acting for film, television or stage. I offer one on one coaching via skype and also free acting eclass.
One thing you cannot escape as an actor is the audition and, often, the dreaded monologue. Choosing a monologue for auditions can be quite a challenge for the actor but it's a must. I tend to write my own monologues or to find monologues from not well known books. If you are not handy as a writer, perhaps you know a writer. I just think original material stands out if it fits you and is a good piece.
Audition Monologues and Why You Need Them.
As an actor, you'll spend a lot of time doing auditions with what are called "sides". A side will contain part of a scene that your character is in and will provide lines for that scene. Many find this kind of structured audition far more comfortable than being asked to prepare a monologue but monologues are still a very important part of an actor's bag of tools for getting work.
One place you will need monologues is when you audition for Casting Agents and Managers. They will want to see what you can do. Listen VERY carefully to what is ask of you. If it's a 3 minute comedic monologue, don't walk in with a 3 1/2 minute dramedy piece. It's best to have the opposite of what they ask for, just in case. After you do a dramatic, they may surprise you by asking if you can show them something that showcases your comedic skills.
Monologues for auditions are still very widely expected in the case of theatre auditions, for example, especially when a theatre school or troupe is holding auditions to create a well of talent from which to cast their entire season. Rather than have you read from a script or prepare a monologue from one of the shows of that season, you may choose to do something unique. For me, it always made sense. Imagine being the casting folk, listening to the same few potent monologues from the same shows, over and over. By the end of the day, will one have enough juice to stand out over all the others? I've always thought you had a better chance by either doing something unique that showcases your talent or something different than the season shows.
I do feel it's important not to try to be all things to all people with a monologue. If you try to pack too much diversity into a three-minute monologue, you run the risk of only confusing those evaluating you. So, how do you pick a monologue for auditions? My top advice would be to pick one that you can settle into, down to your bones. For me, it's not the time to try to do that intense monologue that you never quite could master before. Choose something that fits you like a glove and showcases you.
Finding great monologues can be a true challenge, much less finding the ones that you can really enhabit with grace and ease and have ready at a moment's notice for an audition. There are online resources that offer monologues for actors and a bit of digging might unearth a nice, fresh piece among the commonly used pieces.
The other option, if you are truly a good writer, is to write your own monologue. I've done this before, with good success. The key, as in choosing a monologue in other ways, is to write what you know. Write in a way that you can fully embody the character and have the monologue ready at the drop of a hat.
And finally, I'd suggest having a purely comedic, purely comic and comedy/drama blend. In other words, three monologues. Keep them short and have an edited version that is even shorter of each. I'd suggest 3 minutes and, for the edited version, 1 minute. Then, you'll be ready for anything!
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