5 Dramatic Monologues for Women

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Photo Source: “Succession” Credit: Claudette Barius/HBO

Although delivering a monologue with the potency of Shiv (Sarah Snook) in “Succession” may be aspirational even for the most veteran actor, choosing a strong dramatic piece can help you complete the takeover of your next audition. Depending on the casting team’s instructions, you can pull yours from a contemporary play, television drama, or film. Here are five dramatic monologues for women of various ages, pulled from a wide variety of sources—everything from a Sam Shepard play to “Atlanta.”

“Curse of the Starving Class” by Sam Shepard (theater): Emma

 I had a fryer in there all ready to go. I killed it interested in everything. I just stuck it in here yesterday.

Ma, you didn’t use my chicken did you?

That was my chicken. You boiled it? You boiled my chicken?! 

I raised that chicken from the incubator to the grave and you, you boiled it like it was any old frozen hunk of flesh? There’s no consideration for the labor involved. I get to feed that chicken crushed corn every day for a year. I have to change its water, I have to kill it with an ax. I had to spill its guts out. I had to pluck every feather off of its body so that you could take it and boil it!  Ah there is no consideration. If I had seen a chicken in the freezer I would have asked somebody before I went and boiled it.

If you’re new to acting or play an age range between 14 and 18, try reading through Sam Shepard’s “Curse of the Starving Class.” Shepard’s character arcs and dexterity with language make each moment of this play an entertaining and heart-wrenching read—particularly this dramatic female monologue. Emma is the young, rebellious daughter who commits to a life of crime after deciding that her family’s path is not her own. 

“Succession” (television) by Jesse Armstrong: Shiv

I should say something, Tom. I should have said. But I’ve had a little number? And I think we both agreed we were grown ups. I mean I think we had an unspoken agreement, that we were—I think I always implied, you know? And if I’ve hurt you, and I’ve got it wrong, I’m so fucking sorry. But I think, from this point on, I want everything to be really open and honest. Sure. Although, what if people ask why he’s being sent home? Tom. I just think—I’m not sure. I’m not sure I’m a good fit for a monogamous marriage. Yeah? Is that okay? Is that okay to say to you? Yeah, maybe that would have been wise. I just think, you know, I needed you, very much, I was not in good shape when we hooked up and I think the business angle, works, we know that. We have a plan on that. But in terms of the relationship. Is there an opportunity for something different from the—whole, box-set death march? A different shape of relationship? Could that be exciting? Right? It’s exciting? We’ve pulled everything else down. But love’s the last one, it’s the last fridge magnet left. I mean ‘love’ is about 28 different things—it’s a lumpy sack. And it needs to get emptied out because there’s a lot of ugly products in that Santa sack. Fear and jealousy and control and revenge—and they get such a pretty fucking wrapping in that stocking, it looks so nice, but you open it up…

The quick-paced dialogue and layered characters of “Succession” make for a strong audition piece. In Season 1, Shiv, the daughter of Logan Roy, the founder of a major media conglomerate, attempts to explain to her fiancé what love means to her. What makes the monologue so engaging and gripping is Shiv’s view on family, power and wealth, and love. 

“Ramy” (television) by Ramy Youseff: Fatima

It just happened. I didn’t plan it out. It was just…a guy, in my program…. Come on. You know Muslim guys don't do anything with Muslim women. Look, I was just like, what am I waiting for? All of these Muslim guys are fսcking around, and they don't give a shit. Why am I so scared? And we’re not supposed to be celibate this long, OK? It’s unnatural. 

“Ramy” follows the story of a first-generation American Muslim integrating his Egyptian family life with living in his politically divided neighborhood in New Jersey. In this episode, his sister is having a heart-to-heart with her two best friends about what it’s like to be with a man. Fatima, in her mid-20s, reveals that she’s been intimate for the first time. This is a great monologue to dive into if you tend to be an actor that leans more toward comedic parts since “Ramy” is considered a dramedy.

“Atlanta” (television) by Donald Glover: Jayde

You know, you really need to think about your value. Like, what is your value? Like, why are you messing around with this broke-ass? Hey, hey, look. Women need to be valuable. Black women have to be valuable. Come on, the NBA players I fuck with, they fuck with me because I provide a service, and I am worth it. I am cultured, intelligent, and beautiful. And that is hard… Van! Look at me. That is hard to come by…. Stop, Van, he's running around on you, girl.

Jayde is a sophisticated and polished woman in her early 30s who believes that her way of living is the “correct” way. In this scene with her old friend, Vanessa, Jayde attempts to convince Vanessa that she ought to leave her current relationship and essentially be more like her. The scene has some dialogue back and forth, but you can cut the other lines and it will still read as a complete piece.

“Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” (theater) by John Patrick Shanley: Roberta

He came into my room. He was drunk. It was real real dark. He was mad cause I’d gone out partyin and my mother was away and nobody’d been watching the kid. He was yellin at me and I was thinkin, He yells and I do nothin. So I started cryin and sayin I was sorry. He put his hands on my face. I put my hand out and I touched him. There. He got quiet. That’s what did it. I made him get quiet. I could never make him do anything. That’s why I did it. So I could make him do things. That was the only time. There was one other time after that when he wanted me to, but I wouldn’t. And that was good, too. Right then. Would you be able to kiss a girl who’d done that? How am I gonna get rid of this! I can’t stay like I am! I can’t stay in this f***ing head anymore! If I don’t get outta this f***ing head I’m gonna go crazy! I could eat glass! I could put my hand inna fire an watch the f***in thing burn and I still wouldn’t be outta this f***in head! What am I gonna do? What? I can’t close my eyes, man. I can’t close my eyes and see the things I see. I’m still in that house! I wouldn’t a believed it but I’m still in that house. He’s there and I’m there. And my kid. Who’s nuts already. It’s like, what could happen now? You know? What else could happen? But somethin’s gotta. I feel like the day’s gonna come when I could just put out my arm and fire and lightning will come outta my hand and burn up everything for a thousand miles! It ain’t right to feel as much as I feel. 

In John Patrick Shanley’s two-person play, two strangers, Danny and Roberta, meet in a bar. The entire play takes place in one night. Fighting her own demons, Roberta reveals to Danny how difficult her past has been. There are three strong monologues, including this one, in the piece. If you enjoy sinking your teeth into the psychology of a character with a dark past, this play is for you.

Remember, it’s helpful to select a monologue that fits with the tone of what you’re auditioning for. If you’re struggling to find an entire monologue, watch your favorite dramas and see if you’re able to cut out some of the dialogue to make it into one uniform piece.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Mallory Fuccella
Mallory Fuccella is an actor and writer residing in Los Angeles, California. She currently studies at Lesly Kahn & Co. for acting and at The Groundlings for sketch comedy. She has writing credits with Microsoft as well as Comedy Dynamics. Mallory performed stand-up all over the world while also touring a one-woman children’s show at elementary schools.
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