Every actor—whether they’re five years old or 95—should have a minimum of two monologues (one comedic, one dramatic) in their back pocket for a last-minute request from casting or a meeting with an agent or manager. But there’s another thing that may be missing from your current clips: a one-minute monologue. This type of material serves a dual purpose, perfect for both in-person appointments and online consumption.
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. 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.
But now, you may be wondering: How do I actually find the perfect one-minute monologue? Some days, it feels like I’ve reached the ends of the earth trying to locate decent and free monologues for students. While there are plenty of affordable monologue books for sale out there, more often than not, they’re a grab bag. 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.” In most cases, these monologues lack the interaction and substance you need for a strong audition performance.
And let us not forget the classic faux pas of doing familiar, if not iconic, pieces that are inevitably compared to incomparable performances. This is usually a grave mistake by a developmental actor trying to market themselves, as they almost always fail (and elicit groans from casting directors). Those well-known monologues are fun and challenging, but are best left to classwork.
Instead, 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 one-minute monologue completely from scratch. Consider the types of series, films, and plays you think you’re right for, and aim for creating a character and scene that would fit with those projects. The best part of this approach is that you’re portraying a character you understand completely, using your own language—you wrote it, after all.
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 one-minute monologue collaborations. In 90 minutes, we start from scratch and write evocative, touching, even hilarious one-minute monologues for kids that become superb examples of the child’s type and talent. Even better, they’re also readily available for casting directors to see. Get creative and think outside the box; monologues and ideas are all around you.
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