Audition Monologue

You might think that an audition is only about showing your acting ability, taking direction if asked, and luck – but you’d be wrong.

Showing an audition panel that you have the skill to choose an appropriate audition monologue, rehearse it, direct yourself and perform it well could give you a distinct advantage over others.  If the casting call does not provide specific monologues and you need to find one from a different work to the one you are auditioning for choosing a monologue can feel daunting.  You may think you need to show all of your acting skills in one short piece.  This is not the case.  Your audition doesn’t need to show all your skills as an actor: it only needs to show why you are the right person for the role you are auditioning for.

Showing an audition panel that you have the skill to choose an appropriate audition monologue, rehearse it, direct yourself and perform it well could give you a distinct advantage over others.  If the casting call does not provide specific monologues and you need to find one from a different work to the one you are auditioning for, choosing a monologue can feel daunting.  You may think you need to show all of your acting skills in one short piece.  This is not the case.  Your audition doesn’t need to show all your skills as an actor: it only needs to show why you are the right person for the role you are auditioning for.

Here are some more helpful tips when it comes to preparing yourself a monologue for your audition.

Make a Personal Collection

Monologues are widely available on the internet, but as an actor, it is an idea to start building up your own collection of scripts that you can become familiar with and turn to as and when you need to.

Differentiate Between Periods

When choosing an audition monologue, it is first important to note whether the audition panel has asked for a classic or contemporary monologue.  Classic monologues are usually Shakespearean but can be any medieval or ancient theatre.  You may find yourself at an advantage if you pick something outside of the ‘comfort zone’ of Shakespeare.  Being a Dr Faustus in a room full of Romeos will give you a chance to stand out by doing some different. Contemporary monologues are modern theatre.  Again, choosing something less famous may make you more memorable.  Choosing a monologue by the same playwright as the piece you are auditioning for can be helpful.  This allows the audition panel to see you performing in the style of that playwright, and helps them see you in another role they have written.

Contemporary monologues are modern theatre.  Again, choosing something less famous may make you more memorable.  Choosing a monologue by the same playwright as the piece you are auditioning for can be helpful.  This allows the audition panel to see you performing in the style of that playwright, and helps them see you in another role they have written.

Look Into the Company

It is also a good idea to research the Company and see what plays they have done before.  Choosing a monologue from a play they have previously been involved with will give you an opportunity to discuss their previous work and help you stand out in the crowd.

Be Time Conscious

You also need to consider the length of monologue that the casting call asks for.  If an audition panel has asked for a one minute monologue going in with a piece that takes you four minutes to read will not only take up too much of the audition panel’s time and make them remember you for all the wrong reasons, but it will also make it look like you haven’t read the casting call properly.  This might make the Director think that you won’t read their notes, rehearsal schedules or your script properly as well, which will not make them think well of you when considering who is getting the part.  A good way to see how long your monologue takes is to record yourself when you’re rehearsing.  This kills two birds with one stone.  You can watch yourself perform and make improvements where you need to and you can see how long the monologue is taking.  If it is too long choose a shorter monologue or edit the one you are working on so that it is shorter.

A good way to see how long your monologue takes is to record yourself when you’re rehearsing.  This kills two birds with one stone.  You can watch yourself perform and make improvements where you need to and you can see how long the monologue is taking.  If it is too long choose a shorter monologue or edit the one you are working on so that it is shorter.

Make Sure it Has Drama

Make sure that your audition monologue provides you with an opportunity to act.  Obviously performing a short monologue is not the same as performing a full-length play, but your monologue should contain some form of a story arc.  Strong emotions will allow you to give an engaging performance.  Your monologue should contain some form of transformation in the emotional state of your character in order for you to take full advantage of the piece.  Find the conflict your character is experiencing: are they after something, are they upset about something?  Work with that.

Most of the time, there is nothing very interesting about a character sitting on a stage telling a story from twenty years ago.  When reading your monologue the first time, make a note of your natural emotional reaction to the piece.  For example, if the character is unhappy and the piece is normally performed with crying but your natural reaction is maniacal laughter go with your gut.  The audition panel may have seen this character cry a hundred times.  Something different, if it is natural to you, will allow you to perform better and stand out from the crowd.

Research the Play

If your audition monologue is from the work you are auditioning for, make sure you are familiar with the play before your audition.  You need to know the context of the speeches you will be reading.  As well as allowing you to perform your audition better, you will impress the audition panel by showing the commitment to become familiar with the work in advance.

Experiment With It

Treat your audition monologue like a miniature play.  Rehearse it in different ways: sitting, standing, walking about, with different emotions, different pauses.  Get to know the monologue and your character inside out.  Reciting something monotone and verbatim will show you can learn lines, but it won’t show you can act or contribute anything further to the role like ideas for direction and chemistry with your fellow actors.

Stay True to Yourself as an Actor

Choose a monologue you can connect to.  Whether your monologue is from the play you are auditioning for or another work, make sure you know the piece inside out.  That way if the audition panel asks you about the monologue you will be able to answer their questions without becoming flustered.  Having an emotional connection to the character will improve your performance.  Unless the casting call has requested specific accents, stick to your own, and let your ability shine through.  There will be plenty of time to experiment more with the character when you get the part!

Donna Day

D M Day is a writer and actor who lives in Liverpool, England. She writes flash, science and fantasy fiction, and poetry. She is currently working on a war poetry collection and a parallel universe trilogy. She runs acting and writing workshops and performed in the first Liverpool Fringe Festival in June 2017.