While working on a monologue master class recently, we found that plays containing monologues sometimes present challenges for actors that are unique to the monologue form. This starts with just picking a monologue from a play. The selection of a monologue is very personal. It should be something you emotionally connect to and feel excited to act. It should also be something that’s a great fit for your talent and type.
Sometimes you don’t know which one will be a good fit. You need to practice quite a few to see which suits you and your talent best. Simply reading a monologue will not reveal this. It’s best to get on your feet with it to see how it feels. A monologue should show off your unique and special qualities and effectively capture the listeners’ attention. Mastering the art of monologues can help an actor book a role, get accepted to a theater company, or even get an agent.
With that in mind, where should you start? Here are a few plays with great monologues for men aged 18–50 that you can try out!
1. “Danny and the Deep Blue Sea” by John Patrick Shanley
This is a brilliant contemporary play written by a poetic, hilarious, and heartbreaking writer, John Patrick Shanley. John Patrick Shanley is renowned for the unique world he creates, most often in the Bronx. His characters are blue-collar and rough, yet vulnerable and poetic. Here Danny is a deeply troubled character who has a profound yearning for love, but a violent propensity to push it away. His monologue dreaming about wanting to be a bride is both surprising, funny, and moving. This is a great choice for a young leading man.
2. “Small Mouth Sounds” by Bess Wohl
This monologue for a 30–40-year-old man is an extremely memorable speech by Ned about an unlucky yet grateful attendee of a spiritual retreat. It recounts, almost in a stream of consciousness, his deeply troubled past shaped by an extraordinary amount of very bad luck. It possesses a simplicity and naturalism that engages the audience and feels extremely fresh and funny while deep. It’s a terrific choice for an interesting leading man or character actor and is unforgettable.
3. “The Seagull” by Anton Chekhov
The monologue by Constantine from this classic Chekhov play is a wonderful choice for young male actors aged 20–25 years old who possess vulnerability yet commanding power and have a facility for heightened speech and movement. The necessity for this is due to the material having a raised stature beyond anything that is casual or contemporary. The actor that brings his unique identity and voice to this classic role will be remembered.
4. “4000 Miles” by Amy Herzog
“4000 miles” is an exquisite play about grief and a young man’s cross-country bicycle trip striving to overcome it. It has a very youthful feeling about it, but the message is deeply timeless. This monologue by Leo Joseph Connell is moving and relatable and can be played effectively by any leading man or character actor aged 18–25 years of age.
5. “Linda Vista” by Tracy Letts
This role for a character actor 40–50 years old is unforgettable. Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts gives Dick Wheeler an unforgettable monologue that rings deeply true and yet maintains a unique and fresh perspective on the classic loveable loser who somehow woos and wins women, but then destroys all his romantic relationships. The language is current and acerbic and packs a great punch, making this monologue a winner for the right actor.
6. “Fat Pig” by Neil LaBute
This monologue for a 20–30-year-old leading man is very fresh and relatable. Tom is a young man who finds himself in love with a girl who is not a prototypically thin girl, hence the title. His plea for her to forgive him and not leave him is moving and surprising. This monologue is something many young male actors are likely to understand and connect to. Neil LaBute is a provocative and thought-provoking writer, and with this play and role he does not disappoint.
These six monologues for men of any age are sure to make a lasting impression!
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