How To Find Your Perfect Monologue
I am not the biggest fan of monologues; they’re hard to find and they can be difficult to perform well. Yet no matter how much I wish them away, I find myself often having to perform one of my monologues whether for Theatre Bay Area, auditioning for a play, and even when I signed with my agency I was asked to perform a monologue. Every actor should have a strong monologue that fits their age, type, and it must be from a play.
What Type of Monologues You Need
A monologue needs to fit several criteria:
- It has a beginning, middle, and end. It must tell a story and have range. If it’s 1 note all the way through, it’s a boring monologue.
- It must fit your age and your type. I know and totally empathize that this, especially for younger women, is such a pain. But if you’re 20 and thin doing a monologue for an overweight 47 year-old, nobody is going to buy it
- IT MUST BE FROM A PLAY. I know for my on-camera homies, you guys really want to perform a monologue from a movie. For your sake (and to prevent from breaking heart) and for the integrity of your profession, do NOT perform a monologue from a movie.
Theatre actors: You should have 1 classical dramatic monologue, 1 classical comedic monologue, 1 contemporary dramatic monologue, and 1 contemporary comedic monologue
TIP: if you aren’t funny, do not perform a comedic monologue. Instead find 2 contemporary dramatic monologues.
On-camera actors: My recommendation is that you follow the lead of the theatre actor. It is a lot of work to find, memorize, and execute a monologue well (especially if you aren’t doing theatre). However, for example, if you ever audition for a period film and have a classical monologue memorized, you stand above the rest.
Step 1: Find Plays With a Character That Matches Your Type
The way I find all of my contemporary monologues is by searching for award-nominated plays from current date to way back in the past. I collect the names of all the nominated plays, read the character lists to see if the age fits my range, then I purchase the play so that I can read it in it’s entirety.
To find classical monologues, search Shakespearean plays and the Greek plays to find a character in your age range. Again purchase the play and read in it’s entirety.
Step 2: Read The Entire Play
**You cannot solely read the monologue and call it a day. You have to read the entire play so you have a full understanding of the context of the monologue, who you’re talking to, and what you want in that scene. You need to have the background to have a fully developed character and a dynamic, interesting monologue. Trust me, if you don’t read the play but perform the monologue, anyone who is familiar with the play will know immediately you haven’t read it.
Step 3: Selecting a Monologue
As I mentioned before, it must have a beginning, middle, and end. Do you feel that arch as you’re reading it? Is the monologue a story in itself? Is this a role you’d audition for? If you can answer yes for all those questions, it seems you’ve found yourself an excellent monologue!
Finding a monologue takes a TON of time – it takes research and study. But once you find those monologues, you’re set for a nice chunk of time. Now that you’ve found them work them again and again until they’re absolutely perfect and exactly the way that you want them.