How to Find the Perfect Monologue for Any Audition

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Looking for a killer monologue for your next audition or acting class? Backstage’s monologue database provides you with quick access to hundreds of high-quality options.

You can browse through individual monologues or find several conveniently grouped together by author or production. The database also comes with powerful search features; you can find exactly what you’re looking for using filters like age range, gender, play title, author, genre, and theme. We also provide a play synopsis and scene synopsis for every monologue. The sidebar suggests related monologues as well as thematically similar roles that are currently casting.

How to choose a monologue

Choose a monologue that suits your type and range

“It’s agonizing to watch a 25-year-old trying to be 45 or a guy from Minnesota trying to be a Mafioso from Brooklyn,” says acting coach Gwyn Gilliss. “A monologue should show who you are, not add layers of dialects, character traits, a limp, or something outrageous to impress. If they can’t tell you’re acting, that’s good acting.”

Casting director Lana Veenker agrees: “If you’re a young leading man type, don’t attempt King Lear or Caliban. Choose something in your wheelhouse, especially if you’re just starting out. Help the casting director picture you in a suitable, age-appropriate role. Don’t make their job more difficult.”

Select a monologue you understand, rather than one you can just memorize

“Find something where you understand the language. Not only what is being said but also what’s not being said,” advises Louisiana State University drama professor Bill Demastes. “[Be] able to bring those silences or those empty spaces out through your acting. …I think selecting those kinds of monologues gives the actor the opportunity to demonstrate voice but also do so much more on the stage than simply speak the lines.” 

Make sure you can tell a full story with your monologue

“Monologues need to be rich and full of life. They need to go somewhere and have moments,” says acting coach Clay Banks. “In a very measurable and concise space, you can do all the work necessary to execute brilliance. And because it’s so compact, you can really focus your attention on finding and filling those moments and executing an effective arc.”

When in doubt, brevity is better

If they ask for a two-minute monologue, choose one that takes less than 90 seconds, even strewn with self-indulgent pauses,” says Jackie Apodaca, associate professor and head of performance at South Oregon University. “Most auditors make up their minds in the first 30 seconds—why worry about going over?”

Carefully research the project and the creatives involved

“‘What monologue is good for me?’ isn’t enough. That’s an incomplete question,” says director and acting teacher Karen Kohlhaas. “They need to consider themselves as an actor, what it’s for, who they’re going to be in front of. You choose one monologue for a particular director and another monologue for another director, based on their style and your résumé.” 

Above all, aim to entertain

“No one in the industry wants to watch an actor working really hard to impress them with their acting, especially if the piece is boring or mediocre,” says Gilliss. “Choose a monologue you love. Doing so, we will love watching you.”

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