Sunday, December 6, 2009


First, I must express my irritation and bewilderment at high school directors who ask for monologues for tryouts. What a huge waste of time! Especially when a competent director at all levels from school to Broadway and Hollywood, has people in mind for the roles of a show when it is selected. There is no point in planning a show you don't have the resources to do.

Well, back to monologues. All monologues for auditions or class work should be speeches or edited scenes from plays. Original monologues should be discouraged and avoided in all instances. You teachers stop assigning your students to write monologues, they are not studying playwriting. A monologue,like any other part of the dialog of a play is a character's emotional (and physical) reaction to that moment in the play. Without a play to surround the monologue, it has no dramatic meaning. The dialog of a play moves the story along and thus since a monologue is part of the script, it moves the story along. We can judge the effectiveness of the presentation of a monologue only on the way the presentation moves the story along, delineating the character and the character's emotional response at that moment of the story.. Thus actors who do monologues must always read the entire play. Most monologues are long speeches from a play, but they can also be constructed from the dialog of a scene by omitting the other characters' lines and stringing one character's lines together into a solo speech. This takes some art so as not to make the solo speech awkward in any way. Now the selection of monologues is always a great problem, especially for beginners. Beginners have not read many plays and often do not realize what is required of their selection. Too often, I see inexperienced people ask for help in finding a monologue and they put all kinds of requirements on it. "I want it to be really dramatic, like someone going crazy," they will say. No, no. Bad idea. A monologue must fit the actor like a glove and be especially right for his or her age and type. No sense in the little sister type trying to do a speech by a prostitute and no sense in a 14 year old trying to do the lead in "Same Time Next Year." An actor must always pick a character that they could actually be cast as in a film so they have to be just exactly right for the role. It can take years for an actor to find the best monologues for him to do. All I can say is, anyone thinking about acting had better get reading all the plays they can get their hands on. Good selections of monologues are speeches from roles one has done in a play at school or somewhere. By and large it is too bad that beginners are asked by incompetent directors to audition with a monologue. Fortunately, all of Shakespeare's young women are teens, so his plays are mother lode of monologue material for the beginner as well as for the experienced actress. And there are various supernatural roles like faeries in Shakespeare's plays as well. So very young children can also use their speeches for monologues. Most of Shakespeare is male, so there is no problem for the actor to find a speech. I have addressed how to read Shakespeare earlier in this blog, so there I will stop for today.

Best wishes, and break a leg!

1 comment:

  1. During my college acting classes we were encouraged to find monologues, but never directed to read through the whole play. There never would have been enough time allotted even. One of my class books was even a book full of monologues and nothing else. I will be sure to get my hands on some more plays and try to find some parts that really fit me well.