Every actor, whether five years old or 105, should have a minimum of two monologues in his or her back pocket for the last-minute request from casting or meeting with an agent or manager. (A comedic and dramatic selection are essential tools of the trade.)
The challenge that faces virtually every actor? Where to find monologues suitable and effective for their type. How do you know if the monologue is overused? Or good, even? And how long should it be? The hunt is on.
Some days, it feels like I’ve reached the ends of the earth trying to find decent and free pieces for students and monologues. While there are plenty of affordable monologue books for sale out there, more often than not, they’re a grab bag and you can never be sure one will work for you. And many of the monologues you do find are likely not effective beyond the classroom because the characters seem to be talking to the “great unknown,” almost like a personal musing or interior though. In most cases, these monologues lack the interaction and substance you need.
And of course, let us not forget the classic faux pas of doing familiar—if not iconic—pieces that are undeniably compared to incomparable performances. This can be a grave mistake by any developmental actor trying to market themselves as they almost always fail (and elicit groans from casting directors). These pieces are expected and missing that genuine, essential component of showcasing what makes you unique and not an imitator. Those well-known monologues are fun and challenging but best-left to classwork.
If you know your type, the genre you want to focus on, what you can offer casting, and have an idea of what’s lacking from your current clips, listen closely. It’s time to conjure up a one-minute monologue that serves a dual purpose: in-person appointments and online consumption. And I am not talking about a “self-tape” style monologue—you have the capability to create something better...use it,
The rules of the game have changed. Technology is easier to use and allows for amazing video products. Online content is booming and new media programming is everywhere. So jump on those same principles and create content as a tool for your career. Enter the one-minute monologue.
Industry professionals want to see you act, and not necessarily just via what you’ve been cast in. More often than not, those roles you get early on fail to showcase your strengths. Instead, show them what you’re capable of with 60 seconds of on-point acting and your smartphone.
Find a short monologue that gets close to what you want to showcase, then change it. Let a piece inspire you, then rewrite it. Change the scenario. Tweak the surroundings. Make it your own to ensure it’s truly working for you.
Or try your hand at writing a minute monologue that feels like it could have been in the types of series, films, and plays you think you’re right for. The best part of this approach is that you created the monologue in your own language and are portraying a character you fully understand because you wrote it.
Once it’s personalized, run your monologue by some trusted friends or professionals to ensure it works and is true to you as an actor.
Then, film it. Get at least three camera angles: wide shot, close-up, and reaction shot of silent scene partner. (You’ll be thankful for the reaction shot when you need to cut and edit in your best performances from separate takes.) Trim it to 60 seconds or less using an editing app, and then let it work its career magic.
I’ve found incredible success with my child actor clients when it comes to minute monologue collaborations. In 90 minutes, we start from scratch and write evocative, touching, even hilarious pieces that become superb examples of the child’s type and talent, and are readily available for casting directors to see. Get creative and think outside the box; monologues and ideas are all around you.
Check out Backstage’s kids auditions!
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.