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The Dos and Don'ts of Choosing a Monologue for a Young Performer

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The Dos and Don'ts of Choosing a Monologue for a Young Performer

Whether your child or teen is auditioning for a school theater program, a show, or an industry professional, a monologue is a must-have for every young actor. A child actor should always have two different types of monologues in their back pocket. Make sure your young performer loves the monologues! This will increase their chances of giving a great performance since they will be more excited about working on it and therefore will do a better job delivering it.

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when picking a monologue for your child.

DO

1. Choose good literature. I am not a big fan of generic monologue books. Every now and then I will run across a piece that is well-written and works nicely. However, most of the time, they are trite and obvious. Look for monologues from plays, movies, and even novels which contain conflict and good character work. These will take the actor to a whole new level. Read plays -- one acts as well as full lengths. You can’t go wrong with wonderful playwrights such as Neil Simon, Christopher Durang, Eric Bogosian, and Jonathan Marc Sherman. Great writing will help your young actor look good!

2. Find material your child can relate to. What does your young performer find funny?  What moves them emotionally? I recently came across a hilarious play called "Indoor Outdoor" by Kenny Finkle. The pooping cat monologue actually made me laugh out loud! Perhaps a piece about loss might resonate with your child. If he is grappling with adolescence, there are many plays published by Baker’s Plays and Playscripts that might interest him.

3. Choose age-appropriate pieces. At age thirteen, I played Mama Rose in a camp production of "Gypsy." In local theater, at camp, and in school productions, of course we get to play these juicy roles at a young age because there are no adults. But in the professional world, where your child is being cast to play their age, they MUST pick age-appropriate material. Even in class, my students work on scenes playing characters close to their age because it is nearly impossible for them to relate to adult issues.

4. Look for active monologues. Storytelling is boring. Acting means to do. Find pieces where the character is doing something.

5. Keep it short (1-2 minutes). If you are told two minutes, make it ninety seconds. Most of the time, auditors see what they need to in thirty seconds. They may be sitting for hours listening to actors. They will appreciate you keeping the monologue short. Trust me.

6. Read the entire play. This is the only way you will completely understand the character and the story. The more you know, the more fully realized the performance will be.

DON’T:

1. Pick a monologue with a dialect. Unless the project your child is auditioning for requires one.

2. Perform a monologue from a movie for a theater director.

3. Pick a piece that can’t stand on its own. It must make sense when taken out of context.

4. Do monologues that contain profanity and sexual content that may make the auditor uncomfortable.

5. Choose overdone monologues that you find on the Internet or in monologue books.  There is plenty of good, fresh and new material out there.

Tune in next week for more information on where to find a monologue for a young performer.

Master your craft, empower yourself and enjoy the journey.

Denise Simon is a New York-based acting coach and career consultant who has been involved in the entertainment industry for more than 25 years as an actor, teacher, director, and personal talent manager. For 10 years, she was an associate with Fox Albert Management, one of the leading talent management companies in New York, where she managed such clients as Scarlett Johansson, Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino, Lacey Chabert (“Party of Five”), and Judy Reyes (NBC’s “Scrubs”). Denise has coached hundreds of children and young adults appearing regularly on Broadway and in television and film, as well as educating parents on the business of show business.

You can visit Denise on the web at www.simoncoachinggroup.com and like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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