Double the Drama With These Two-Minute Monologues

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Photo Source: “Barbie” Courtesy Warner Bros.

Anyone who’s seen Gloria (America Ferrera) confront gendered expectations and the challenges of womanhood in “Barbie” knows that longer monologues can be both poignant and powerful. One- to two-minute monologues like the sampling included here present a unique opportunity for actors to grow and explore. 

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Why choose a two-minute monologue?

Monologue

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To show off skills: Choosing a two-minute monologue can be a strategic decision for actors seeking to showcase their ability to maintain character and emotional intensity over a longer duration. From the intricacies of character development to the demands of narrative storytelling, longer monologues offer a rich terrain for both performers and audiences alike. They allow for a deeper exploration of a character’s journey, providing ample space to build and resolve tension. 

When time isn’t of the essence: However, longer monologues can be the wrong choice in situations where brevity is key, such as in auditions where time is limited or when a concise performance is more impactful. Actors must assess the context and their own strengths, understanding that while a longer monologue can display endurance and depth, it also demands greater control and engagement with the audience.

What makes a good two-minute monologue?

Monologue

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It’s complex: An effective two-minute monologue should be a well-rounded narrative in itself, encapsulating a clear beginning, development, and resolution. It must have enough substance to allow the actor to demonstrate a range of emotions and transitions. 

It’s relatable: However, it’s crucial that the monologue not be overly complex or dense, as clarity and the ability to connect with the audience are paramount. The ideal two-minute piece strikes a balance between depth and accessibility, challenging the actor while remaining relatable to the audience.

It’s interesting: The content should be engaging, with a mix of introspective moments and outward expression, providing a platform for the actor to showcase both subtlety and intensity.

Great two-minute monologues

Fleabag

“Fleabag” Courtesy Amazon Prime Video

Barbie” by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach: Gloria’s monologue on womanhood

Barbie” is a fantasy comedy that delves into themes of self-discovery and existential crisis. Although the film is a comedy, this monologue, performed by America Ferrera, is a serious look at contemporary womanhood. It offers a deep dive into the contradictions and pressures women face, making it a powerful piece for conveying emotional intensity and social awareness. The monologue’s range from frustration to exhaustion provides ample opportunity for an actor to showcase their ability to navigate complex emotional landscapes. It’s particularly relevant in today’s conversations about gender roles, making it not only an engaging performance piece but also a thought-provoking one.

GLORIA: It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong. 

You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining. You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. 

But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault. 

I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.

Birthday Balloons” by Tara Meddaugh: Adelaide’s birthday wish for her son 

This standalone monologue from Adelaide, who is suffering from a terminal illness, depicts her desire to give her son a special birthday while also exploring the hopelessness of her situation. The dramatic monologue captures Adelaide’s internal struggle, oscillating between the desire to cherish and celebrate her son’s life and grappling with her own mortality. Actors can use the monologue to delve into the complexities of existential despair, contrasted with the tenderness and love of a mother planning her child’s birthday. 

ADELAIDE: I want to make him a birthday cake. And buy him a gift, you know, one of those complicated LEGO sets. He’s into those right now. And, I always put balloons outside his bedroom door in the middle of the night, so when he wakes up, he’s greeted by these yellow—that’s his favorite color—these yellow “it’s your birthday” balloons and… it’s a great way to start your birthday, right? 

Most of the time, I want this, and I think, it’s a month away, only one month away. I can do this. I can do this for him. You know? But… 

Then sometimes, it doesn’t seem important anymore. Is that awful to say? Is that awful to say I don’t always feel my six-year-old’s birthday is important? 

I want to be one of those parents where I make up a note and a gift for the next 15 years for him, so he can read them and know I’m thinking of him every birthday, every day, even when I’m not here. But, it’s so hard to move and sometimes even breathe. I can’t even lift up my hand to hold a pen. And… if I think of the future—of his birthday for the next 15 years… I’m… I’m hit with this wave of… no, this, this tsunami of panic and, like, I go cold and sweat and think I’m going to throw up and faint, because I realize, like, really remember… I have no hope anymore… I’m wrapped up in this feeling that everything in the world is pointless and is going to end and what difference does it make if I ask the home health-aid to put up balloons for me or ask you to get into my account and order a LEGO set for Carter.

And the wind is knocked out of me. 

I wish I didn’t know that I was going to die so soon.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard: Rosencrantz ruminates on death

This tragicomedy centers around two minor characters from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The play explores their experiences and perspectives as they navigate the events of “Hamlet,” primarily during the moments they are offstage in the Shakespearean work. It delves into themes of fate, free will, the nature of reality, and the absurdity of the world—and is often seen as an example of the Theatre of the Absurd. In this monologue, Rosencrantz ruminates on the nature of death in a manner that is both philosophical and accessible. The character’s contemplation about being dead and the analogy of being in a box creates a vivid imagery that challenges the audience’s perceptions of mortality and existence. Actors can use this monologue to showcase their ability to engage the audience in profound thoughts. The monologue’s dark humor offers a unique blend of depth and accessibility in its exploration of life’s greatest mystery.

ROSENCRANTZ: Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with a lid on it?... Nor do I, really.... It’s silly to be depressed by it. I mean one thinks of it like being alive in a box, one keeps forgetting to take into account the fact that one is dead... which should make a difference... shouldn’t it? I mean, you’d never know you were in a box, would you? It would be just like being asleep in a box. Not that I’d like to sleep in a box, mind you, not without any air—you’d wake up dead, for a start and then where would you be? Apart from inside a box. That’s the bit I don’t like, frankly. That’s why I don’t think of it.... Because you’d be helpless, wouldn’t you? Stuffed in a box like that, I mean you’d be in there forever. Even taking into account the fact that you’re dead, really... ask yourself, if I asked you straight off—I’m going to stuff you in this box now, would you rather be alive or dead? Naturally, you’d prefer to be alive. Life in a box is better than no life at all. I expect. You’d have a chance at least. You could lie there thinking - well, at least I’m not dead! In a minute someone’s going to bang on the lid and tell me to come out. (Banging on the floor with his fists.) “Hey, you, whatsyername! Come out of there!”

Fleabag” by Phoebe Waller-Bridge: Fleabag discusses Boo’s death

Fleabag” was a play before it was adapted into a dark comedy-drama series. Both follow the life of a witty and conflicted young woman as she navigates personal crises, family tensions, and romantic entanglements in London. This monologue from the play is an excellent choice for performance due to its complex layering of emotions and sharp wit. It begins with a confident and humorous tone as Fleabag describes her preparation and self-assuredness in her appearance, capturing a moment of empowerment and self-validation. However, the monologue swiftly transitions into a darker, more introspective territory as it delves into the tragic story of her friend Boo’s death, revealing layers of guilt, grief, and unresolved feelings. This sharp contrast offers an actor the opportunity to showcase a wide range of acting skills, from comedic timing to the ability to convey deep emotional pain. Additionally, the monologue’s raw, honest narrative provides a realistic portrayal of coping with loss and personal insecurities, making it a compelling and relatable piece for both the performer and the audience.

FLEABAG: Okay.

Into the shower. Boom. Bedroom. Makeup. Boom. Gonna really make an effort. I take half an hour trying to look nice and I ended up looking… amazing. I mean, best in ages. One of those days. Boom.

Gorgeous, fresh-faced, heels, wearing a skirt, new top, little bit sexy, on my way to save my café and yes, I am strutting.

I see a man walking towards me from the bus stop. He can’t take his eyes off me. I’m all walking like I’ve got a paintbrush up my arse, thinking: Yeah, check me out, cos it’s never gonna happen, Chub Chub.

I opened the café with my friend Boo. She’s dead now. She accidentally killed herself. It wasn’t her intention, but it wasn’t a total accident. She didn’t think she’d actually die, just found out that her boyfriend slept with someone else and she wanted to punish him by ending up in hospital and not letting him visit her for a bit. She decided to walk into a busy cycle lane wanting to get tangled in a bike. Break a finger, maybe. But it turns out bikes can go fast and flip you into the road. Three people died. She was such a dick. I didn’t tell her parents the truth. I told her boyfriend. He cried a lot.

Chub Chub’s getting closer. Oversized jacket. Meaty face. Looks me up and down. It’s like he’s confused about how attractive I am – he can’t quite believe it. I worry for a second I’m going to make a sex offender out of the poor guy. He’s about to say something. Here we fucking go, this better be good. He’s passing, he’s passing. He clears his throat, brings his hand to his mouth and coughs: “Walk of shame.”

It’s too late to go home and change. I have some flat shoes in my bag and anyway, he’s fat. And he can’t take that off at night.

Harry’s a bit fat. He lightly pats his belly, like he’s a little bear. Proud of what he’s achieved. Hunted. Gathered. Eaten. Pat. Evidence. Pat, pat. It makes me laugh. A pretty girl at a party once asked me if I secretly liked that Harry had a paunch, because it made him less attractive to other women. Her boyfriend was the whale in the corner, blocking the door to the toilets.

I asked her if he made her wash the bits he can’t reach. She slapped me. Actual slap. Which means he did.

Boo’s death hit the papers. “Local café girl is hit by a bike and a car and another bike.”

There was a buzz around the café all of a sudden. Flowers, notes, guinea-pig memorabilia were left outside in her memory.

Boo was built a bit like a guinea pig. No waist or hips. Straight down. She rocked it. And she was beautiful. Tricky though. Jealous. Sensitive. But beautiful and… my best friend.

Red” by John Logan: Ken questions Mark

Red” explores the life and career of the artist Mark Rothko. Set in Rothko’s New York studio during 1958 and 1959, the drama unfolds as he works on a group of murals for the Four Seasons restaurant. The play explores his artistic theories, resistance to commercialism, and relationship with his assistant Ken, who challenges Rothko’s views on art and commerce. Their dynamic interplay offers a profound look at the creative process and the struggles of an artist at the height of his career. This monologue from the play is a powerful choice for its raw emotional intensity and Ken’s passionate outburst against Rothko. It vividly expresses his frustration with Rothko’s obsessive, egocentric approach to art and life, contrasting Rothko’s grandiose existential musings with a desire for simpler, more relatable art. It offers actors the chance to explore resentment and anger, making it a great piece for demonstrating dramatic range and depth.

KEN: Bores you?! Bores you?!—Christ almighty, try working for you for a living!—The talking-talking-talking-Jesus-Christ-won’t-he-ever-shut-up Titanic self-absorption of the man! You stand there trying to look so deep when you’re nothing but a solipsistic bully with your grandiose self-importance and lectures and arias and let’s-look-at-the-fucking-canvas-for-another-few-weeks-let’s-not-fucking-paint-let’s-just-look. And the pretension! I can’t imagine any other painter in the history of art ever tried so hard to be SIGNIFICANT!

You know, not everything has to be so goddamn IMPORTANT all the time! Not every painting has to rip your guts out and expose your soul! Not everyone wants art that actually HURTS! Sometimes you just want a fucking still life or landscape or soup can or comic book! Which you might learn if you ever actually left your goddamn hermetically sealed submarine here with all the windows closed and no natural light—BECAUSE NATURAL LIGHT ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU!

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