Thursday, December 6, 2012

Choosing an Audition Monologue

I am continuously asked to help someone chose audition monologues.  Their great fear is that they will select something that is "overdone."  There are even articles on the web listing overdone monologues.  I think the concept of a monologue being overdone is baloney.  I think the problem is that the monologues are done poorly.

Young aspiring actors often have little or no knowledge of plays.  Some have not even been in a play, much less having read one.  Certainly the aspiring actor who is serious about his or her aspirations is reading plays and is acting in amateur plays as often as possible.  If they are not, one has to question the honesty of their aspirations.  Be that as it may, the fact remains that a great number of aspiring actors are seeking help finding monologues.

The worst place they can look is in books of monologues, which in many cases are not speeches from quality plays.  Where they need to look is in the library.  Monologues are long speeches from plays.  Plays are found in the library.  Simple.

My web site does have a monologue sources page.  Some people need such resources, so I provide one.  But in most cases, the reader must still read the play to understand the monologue. I was once told that some well-known actress said she didn't think it was necessary for someone to read the play from which a monologue was taken.  I think she is wrong.  Since a monologue, like all the other speeches in the play, is an emotional response to the circumstances of the moment, the actor needs to know everything in the play about that moment.  Doing a monologue without knowing the given circumstances for its existence probably accounts for many of the poor performances of that monologue.  The poor performances are what make the auditors not want to hear it again, and it gets the reputation of being "over done."

Quality trumps quantity every time.  We can see "Hamlet" or "Romeo and Juliet "or "Oklahoma" or any other number of  plays again and again and enjoy them--so long as they are done well.  But no one wants to see bad acting, even for a moment. When you select your audition monologue keep this in mind.

Two important factors in choosing an audition monologue are: is this a role you would be likely to be cast in, and is this a speech you can do really, really well.  If those two criteria are met, you won't have selected an overdone speech.

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