Selecting Monologues for Audition

Many people I work with and teach struggle to find good audition monologues. To hear my opinion on finding ‘good audition monologues’, visit my YouTube page and watch/listen to my clip about choosing. However, I wanted to give a more direct response and help people to find excellent monologues. Here is my best advice.

1) I spent an afternoon recently pouring through my play collection. I pulled out about half a dozen great monologues. What did I learn from that? It takes time, patience and effort to choose an excellent monologue.

2) Monologues on the internet are usually rubbish. Yes, there’s a couple that I offer on my website, because I know many actors are too lazy to go and buy a play in order to read a monologue. Those actors that won’t buy a play, are those actors that won’t read a play, and those actors that don’t read plays and generally those actors that don’t read plays, haven’t made a two-feet commitment to being an actor. Reading the play is how you become aware of excellent monologues because you understand what makes them excellent. When you try to just pluck monologues out of the pages of plays, you can’t expect to know why a monologue is good, and that means you’re selecting based on what? You like the words? The topic? The theme? Read plays. They’re full of excellent monologues.

3) There isn’t a magic monologue that suits you. Find one that you find intriguing, interesting or that speaks to you. Since there are no magic monologues, no monologue will wink its sparkling eye at you, you have to find it.

4) Getting Plays:  Go and sit in the library (RSAMD Library is excellent if you live in Scotland), pop in, and collect up some plays and have a read. Spend an afternoon there. If you aren’t willing to spend some time selecting an excellent monologue, why bother at all? The other choice is go to a lovely bookshop like Waterstones or Borders, take a big pile of plays, go to their cafe, order a drink, sit and read through some plays until you find something that you like. Then toss the pile of books back and buy the one with the good monologue in it.

5) Never write your own.

6) Don’t do a poem. Don’t do a novel. Meet the requirements of the audition instructions. Don’t try to be clever.

7) Choose something that has a definite beginning, middle and end. The character goes on a journey. This is a much better way to show off your skills.

8 Don’t do harrowing material. Rape, abuse and all that, leave it for the soap operas and the news.

9) Choose something within your ‘playing age’ – if you’re 20, then consider 18-25, if you’re 18, consider 16-22. Of course, this is just a suggestion. But no 19 year olds trying to play 40 year olds, no one casts that way anymore.

10) Choose plays from the last 20 years for contemporary. Social manners have changed. You will feel awkward with the language. For a classical monologue, make sure you understand every word that you intend to speak.