Gearing up for an audition that requires a monologue? Before you choose what to perform, read some advice from our Backstage Experts and feel more confident about selecting the best one for both your talents and the project you’re interested in! For the full article, simply click the Expert’s name!
“When preparing a monologue keep the piece at one minute unless otherwise instructed. This is important if you’re going to use it to audition for an agent or casting director. People in those professions are used to seeing auditions on reels in short bursts. This ‘clip mentality’ doesn’t lend itself to a long attention span. If you’re using it for stage or in a workshop one minute is still a good idea, as your monologue will have more immediacy and you’ll show that you have the skill and confidence to deliver in a shorter time frame.” —Craig Wallace
On the material’s larger context.
“Read the whole script. This goes without saying. Give yourself the best chance by understanding your role in its full context. Even if you find a piece in a book of monologues, go back and read the original script as you research your character.” —Lana Veenker
On age-appropriate selections.
“Keep the choice of material appropriate to your age range. A young teen should not choose a monologue about their day at work, their bad marriages, divorces, or lovers. Even if you play leading adult roles in your high school, you should choose roles close to your age. Contrasting pieces require a variety of situations, statuses, attitudes, and uses of irony and humor—not age span.” —Rita Litton
On understanding your audience.
“If you are talking with the audience, who is the audience? Are you breaking the convention and you are no longer the character, but the actor speaking? If not, and you are in the character, who are you talking to? The more precise is your answer, the better. The same monologue will look totally different if it’s said to the person you love, the old lady on the street who asked you for a dollar, or your mom who came to visit.” —Ana Mărgineanu
“Choose one that is serio-comedic—not just comedic or dramatic. Show us some change in emotion but keep us laughing. Serio-comedic monologues are my favorite choices. Start with a piece that is funny, quirky, and gets people to laugh and then ‘turn the screw.’ Hit them with something that's heartbreaking or touching. They’re already in your corner and you’ve won them over! Be compelling to get them involved in liking you, loving you, and hiring you!” —Gwyn Gilliss
For more ideas on specific selections, check out The Monologuer search engine, which narrows monologues down by age-range, gender, play title, author, genre, and theme.
Want more tips? Check out Matt Newton’s advice below! And if you are ready to take that monologue for a spin, check out our theater audition listings!