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How To Find The Perfect Audition Monologue

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How To Find The Perfect Audition Monologue

Finding the perfect monologue for an audition can be a daunting task. After all, it's not like you can listen to potential options via cast recordings - there's a little more digging to be done. But don't worry - searching for monologues is not nearly as hard as it seems, and it can actually be a very fun and educational process! By the end of your search, you'll not only have some killer audition material, but you'll be a much more well-read theatre student! Here are some of my tips to guide you through the process.

How To Find a Monologue

If you're starting at square one, the absolute best place to start is your local bookstore or library. Head to the drama section and start picking up plays. Most plays will have a page towards the beginning that provides brief character descriptions - start there, and see if there are any characters that seem like they could be right for you. Then, start reading! Feel free to buy a bunch of plays and take them home, or just set up shop in the bookstore. You want to actually read these plays in their entirety, which is admittedly time consuming, but is also fun and helpful in the long run. I do not recommend doing a monologue from a play you haven't read - having a sense of the story as a whole can greatly inform your understanding of the monologue.

Once you've found a few you like, head home and research those plays - what are some examples of similar plays? Does the playwright have other published plays I could read? What roles have actors who have played the role I'm looking at also played? Giving yourself time to do this research will lengthen your list of plays to read and should provide you with ample options.

As you're reading, keep in mind that your monologue doesn't have to be written as a monologue - feel free to cut other characters' lines, as long as what you piece together makes sense on its own!

Choosing the Right Monologue

Once you have some options in your repertoire, it's time to choose the right monologue for this audition. The most important question to ask here is whether the monologue is appropriate for the material you're auditioning for. Is the play a comedy or a drama? What era was it written in? What are the circumstances the character I'm auditioning for is facing, and do I have a monologue that grapples with similar issues? There are exceptions to every rule, but in general it's best not to audition for a Shakespeare tragedy with a monologue from a contemporary comedy, and vice versa.

Most importantly, though, pay attention to what is being asked. Audition notices will often specify whether they want classic/Shakespeare, contemporary, comedic, dramatic, etc. Always abide specifically by the guidelines they provide - but within those parameters, the rest is up to you and what you feel the most comfortable performing.

Recommended Material For Monologues

If you're looking for a place to start, some of my favorite playwrights who have some great long form sections in their work include Rachel Bonds, Steven Dietz, Joshua Harmon, and Bess Wohl. Take a look at their work and see what you find!

Another great place to start, although you run the risk of encountering "overdone" material, is plays that have recently been on or Off-Broadway, along with recent Pulitzer Prize winners/finalists. I recommend reading Fairview, this year's winner of the Pulitzer, if you haven't already! Keep in mind, though, that this material will be top of mind for a lot of industry professionals, as they'll have recently seen/read these plays - proceed with caution.

Tips For Audition Monologues

-The more time in advance you give yourself, the better off you'll be. It's best not to frantically search for a new monologue days before the audition - give yourself time to do your research, read some plays, and really get memorized.

-You can find certain books at your bookstore that may be devoted entirely to monologue selections, full of examples for you to choose from. These can be helpful when you're in a pinch, but I don't recommend relying on them - as I said, it's best to read the plays, not just a tiny excerpt.

-Pay attention to time guidelines! For example, if they're asking for a one minute monologue, do not prepare anything longer. The best way to make sure your monologue is within the time limit is to perform it, out loud, and time yourself. I would recommend shooting for a bit under the time limit, to account for getting nervous/slowing down in the room. Feel free to cut lines from your monologue to get yourself to the time limit!

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From This Author Andrew Restieri