Q: When it comes to agency auditions, are there specific types of monologues agents like to see? What about anything I definitely shouldn’t use? —@ellievell, Backstage Community Forums
Great question! While the answer can be quite subjective, it’s important to keep in mind that a prepared actor should have—at minimum—three to five monologues ready to go at any given time. Monologues are things you can and should be continually working on. In my professional opinion, monologue preparation is the most effective, time-efficient, low-cost thing an actor can do in their development.
Among these three to five pieces you should have performance-ready at all times, you’ll want to vary the content as well as length: comedy, drama, 30 seconds, one minute, three minutes, etc. The actor with an arsenal of monologues that have been worked out and polished will be positioned much more powerfully than the actor who’s trying to whip something up at the last minute. Being prepared will give you so much more confidence in the casting office or when meeting with an agent.
To start, I recommend a tight, powerful one-minute comedic piece. Comedy-based material tends to lighten tension and plays great in the room. Make sure the content is genuinely funny, contemporary, and fits you like a high-quality leather glove. If you have any doubt about whether or not you’re crushing it, get coaching! You’re not only auditioning for the agency, you’re also letting the powers that be know who you are and that you know how to sell yourself. This ultimately makes their job of connecting you to the breakdown a whole lot easier, which they’ll love you for.
Follow your comedic monologue with a dramatic piece roughly two minutes long—something with real meat on its bones. Once again, look for content that represents your type brilliantly. If you’re auditioning for a theatrical agent, consider relevant dramatic film and TV material over plays and Shakespeare. Think about where you see yourself in existing films and series and grab that material.
Lastly, if you’re planning to write your own material to audition with, get a lot of second opinions. You want to make sure the monologue is strong and makes sense for you as an actor, and it’s really hard to be objective when you’re the writer and performer.
Clay Banks is a former Fortune 500 Business & Life Empowerment Coach, a motivational speaker, and a consultant. He owns and is head coach at Clay Banks Productions & Studio International (CBSI) where he offers ongoing on-camera acting classes. He’s presently a recurring master coach at SAG-AFTRA headquarters, as well as a regular guest MasterClass auditioning coach with the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Hollywood.
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