AUDITION MONOLUGES:HOW TO CHOOSE MONOLOGUES THAT WORK
Choosing the right audition monologues can make all the difference. Monologues are such an important actor tool when it comes to getting work, especially when you're starting out and attending a lot of open calls, where monologues rule. Usually, actors are asked for a dramatic monologue, a comedic monologue, or both. But what makes a good comedic or dramatic monologue?
The Dramatic Monologue
Here's something to keep in mind... What casting directors mean when they say "dramatic monologue" is something that's not comedic. What does that mean? It means you don't have to pick a gloomy soliloquy where the character cries or yells hysterically just because you've been asked for a dramatic monologue. First of all, casting directors see these audition monologues all day long when they cast a drama and will often welcome a change. Secondly, most roles you'll be auditioning for simply don't require this level of very dramatic acting. It feels good, of course, to show someone what you can do as an actor, but make sure you're not missing callbacks because your choices of dramatic monologues have casting directors mistakenly thinking you're "too big" for the role. If it's Othello or Lady Macbeth, of course it makes sense to pick an audition piece where you can showcase an outpour of great emotions. Most plays being cast are not so dramatic and you'll do much better picking material that is closer to what will be required of you for the role.
The same goes for comedic monologues. All casting directors mean with "comedic monologue" is something that's not dramatic. That doesn't mean you have to have everyone roll on the floor with laughter when you perform. There are so many different types of comedies: romantic comedies, slapstick, sketch comedy... What it comes down to is what role you're auditioning for. When picking a comedic monologue for a particular audition, ask yourself, "What does the casting director need to see in this monologue to believe I could play the character I'm auditioning for?" Does he need to see strong characterization? A knack for physical comedy? Comedic timing? Pick a monologue that showcases these abilities.
The in-between monologue
Many acting roles are not really comical or dramatic. These "serio-comic roles" are the parts you'll probably find yourself auditioning for the most, especially if you're starting out and are not auditioning for leads yet. There are a multitude of supporting roles in both drama and comedies that are not about being funny or bringing on the waterworks. They are just here to move the story forward in an interesting way. When auditioning for these roles, pick a monologue that really highlights who you are. Actors spend a lot of time in acting school learning how to create characters - and that does come in handy when you get a great role - but 99% of the time, you'll get cast for playing a version of yourself. So choose an "in-between" monologue you have a strong connection to. Choose an audition piece that allows you to show range and different facets of your personality. Ideally, you want a monologue where you can make different acting choices depending on the role you're auditioning for. After all, you don't want to have to find a new monologue for each audition, plus making different choices from time to time will help keep your acting fresh. Finally, try to pick material that will showcase your acting strengths while downplaying your weaknesses.
Narrowed your audition monologue search down to a few choices? Some monologues are more "performable" then others and some monologues speak to us more then others.
Choosing a monologue that inspires your creativity
Before you spend hours working on your new selection, make sure you pick material that will inspire you to do great acting so you'll get that callback. To make sure that's the case, ask yourself the following questions...
- Can you "think" the words of your monologue? When you read your monologue aloud, do the words come together for you and tell a story without you trying to act at all?)
- Will you have fun working on this monologue? If you do, you'll think up little details about the circumstances and the character that will make your performance unique and more real.
- Will you be able to make strong choices when you perform this monologue? Is there a lot of room for you to write your own subtext and bring in your creativity to the role?
Hope these tips help you find the perfect audition monologue for you.
By Alex Swenson
Alex Swenson has worked as an actor, writer and film editor for the past 15 years in New York and Los Angeles. She has created the website Acting-School-Stop to help young actors start an acting career. You can view a wide selection of contemporary and classical monologues on her site at http://www.acting-school-stop.com/monologues.html. For more on how to pick good audition monologues, visit http://www.acting-school-stop.com/audition-monologues.html.