Choosing a monologue can be a tricky trade. The monologue you choose could make the difference between getting the part and getting the door. And, for actors who act as their principal means of income, knowing which monologue to pick could make the difference between eating and not eating. That’s why the monologue you choose has got to be the right one.
Choosing a good monologue and choosing the right monologue are often two very different things. A “good” monologue may be full of drama and emotion, but it may not necessarily play to your skill set. On the other hand, a “bad” monologue may only be bad to people who don’t have the skills needed to pull it off. Believe it or not, there is a method to the madness. Behold the method.
The most important thing to remember when choosing a monologue is that the monologue is only for the sole purpose of showcasing your talents. It serves no other point. You have 1-2 minutes to show the casting director what you’ve got and how you are able to connect with a character and “be” in that moment. That’s all they are looking for. Don’t make the same mistake many actors make and choose a monologue that only sounds good or one that someone else performed well.
Remember, you want only to show the director what you’ve got. Trying to do something with a lot of sound and fury may signify nothing. And might get you nowhere.
Before choosing a monologue, ask yourself, “What are my skills?” In other words, what do you do best? Do youhave a great speaking voice? Then why on earth would you choose a monologue with a lot of movement? Are you good when it comes to movement and physicality? Then why would you choose a monologue that requires you to sit down for its duration?
Whatever you do well is what you want to highlight. Never mind whether or not it is a Shakespearean play, or whether or not it is challenging and dramatic. All you want to do is show the casting director that you have “it”.
Don’t worry so much about the character’s vital statistics when choosing a monologue. Most people choose not to do a monologue if it doesn’t fit their age range or background. Of course, that is nonsense.
Again, you are only there to showcase your talents. Who cares if the character you are playing is your age or not. That character, no matter what the age, may display the range of emotion that will allow you to do what you do best. So, if your character is 12 or 112, do it if you do it well!
Race doesn’t really matter when choosing a monologue, unless of course the monologue is about race. For example, a white man should never do a monologue about being black. It is acceptable, however, for a white man to do the monologue of a black character, and vice versa.
These types of monologues can be tricky, however, because of stereotypes. You certainly don’t want to “talk black” or “act white” or behave like a “northerner”. You may just leave a bad taste in every one’s mouth at the end of your performance. And it may overshadow the good job you just did.
Remember, there are no small parts, just small (minded) actors. IT IS OKAY FOR YOUR MONOLOGUE TO BE SIMPLE! It is always your job to make any part interesting. Don’t follow the misguided notion that your monologue has to be forceful or require you to yell or cry. Some of the best monologues have very little emotion in them at all. What is conveyed, however, in those “simple” monologues can be powerful, even explosive!
Don’t forget, atom bombs come from atoms!
The monologue doesn’t have to fit you perfectly. Casting directors are not looking for a monologue that is you with a different name. It’s not important for you to look like your character, behave like your character, or share your character’s race, religion, or background. What is important is that the monologue you choose to perform is the monologue that best showcases you talents.
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