Monologue collections are great. There’s a wealth of choices for speeches, whether you need to prepare for drama school auditions, a self-tape, or just want to keep building your tool kit. But here are five contemporary monologues for men that will take you off the beaten track of audition pieces and help you avoid the usual suspects.
We’ve put together speeches from a range of characters but it’s better to pick something because it resonates with you and shows your strengths, not just because it fits your casting bracket. All are by superb writers and from plays that will be rewarding reads. But for ease, there’s a short set of notes accompanying each piece with some context and ideas for direction.
From Pomona by Alistair McDowall
Do you want to know what my fetish is? It’s weird. I have this real desire to jizz on everything. Like this sort of, this urge, like I want to cover the whole world in my jizz. (Laughs.) Isn’t that weird?! I think about it all the time, about how I could make everything in the whole city have this thin film of my jizz over everything, y’know? It doesn’t even feel like a sexual thing, it doesn’t turn me on when I think about it – it’s not a fetish. It’s like this urge, like needing a piss or something. I just need to do it. Even you. I want to put my jizz on you. But yeah, not in a sex way. It wouldn’t be sexy. Do you know how I first found out?
When I was really young, like before I even started masturbating properly, but I was still getting boners, we lived near this hospital, and round the back of the hospital was this mattress with a hole in it, like it was all sponge, y’know? So I would go and lie down on this mattress and fuck it. (Laughs.) This was when I was like eleven or twelve or something so I didn’t really get what I was doing but I just used to put my dick in things all the time. And when I found that, I would go there all the time and put my dick in it and fuck it until all my jizz would come out and soak into the sponge. After a while the sponge got all crusty. Isn’t that gross?
Then this one time, the mattress, it was round the back of the hospital, under this window, like I’d sneak under the window so they wouldn’t see, so I could fuck the mattress. So then this one time I actually took a look in the window, like after I’d jizzed already, and it was basically this room – I don’t know what they had wrong with them – but it was this room full of people all sat in these chairs with all wires coming out of them, all tubes, and they were mostly old people, and it was like a kind of ward, except there was not often any nurses in there or anything, just these people sat in the chairs with all the tubes and wires. And they all looked at me. I don’t know if they were like, cancer guys or that thing – what’s the thing with kidneys? Dialysis. Maybe they were that. Cos of all the wires. They were something anyway. And when I looked at them – they all had really sad faces, ‘cept this one lady who smiled and waved at me, I guess cos I was a little boy, and old ladies like little boys – but when I looked at them I just for some reason really wanted to like, jizz on their faces. I just felt like that was something I should do.
And not in some horrible sex way or anything, but like for some reason I thought it might help them or make them better or something.
Because I knew about sperms, and sperms are basically like a lifeforce, aren’t they?
So maybe I thought if I jizzed on all their faces, all the ill or dying people or whatever, they’d just get better.
And ever since I had thought that I just basically wanted to jizz on everything. Isn’t that weird?
The ultimate overshare. On a first read, Charlie’s monologue might sound childish and gratuitous but remember that it comes from a play that isn’t what it appears and has encouraged contradictory interpretations. Read the monologue again and you’ll begin to hear how it lets the audience into the character’s interior world as well as spot plenty of opportunities for performers to play with light and shade. Although much of this is funny, it’s worth bearing in mind that the speaker isn’t intent on making anyone laugh. In fact, he’s forcing this story on a fellow security guard who has told him to stop three times and isn’t answering his questions.
You’ll need to motivate why Charlie begins telling the story, what effect he wants to achieve, and why he continues it to the bitter end. You’ll also need to decide if this is the first time he’s told anyone, if it’s all or only partially true, and if he cares what the listener thinks. But notice the link between the hospitals, the patients plugged into machines, the elderly lady who waves, and the young Charlie in the story – and the vitality, the healing life force that he believes comes from his ejaculation. In a play that references Indiana Jones, Dungeons & Dragons, and H. P. Lovecraft, what does Charlie’s choice of superpower say about him?
From Narrative by Anthony Neilson
What the FUCK do you know about love? Hmm? Oh no, wait a minute, I know: your mother loved you. That’s why you’re so secure, right? That’s why you have panic attacks and hide under the bed all day: That’s why you’re in therapy: That’s why you fucked another man! Because you’re so secure! Because your Mother fucking loved you so fucking much!
But what if she didn't? What if she didn't love you?
Come on – like you said: You’ve got to ask the question sometimes. What if you’re wrong?
Because tell me this – who did your mother learn it from? You told me she was treated like shit. So where did she learn how to love? I’ll tell you: from books. From the TV. From fucking Hollywood. She gave you stuff, she showered you with unqualified praise, she told you you’d inherit the fucking Earth and it was all fucking bullshit! A simulation; a cheap, superficial imitation of love by someone who didn’t know the meaning of the word. And thirty years later, what’s the result? You. You. A fucking – Easter Egg of a person.
You don’t know who you are, you don’t know what you want, you don’t know what you think – Life throws shit at you and you collapse and you know why? Because there’s no core to you, no foundation, none of the things that real love – genuine, complex, awkward love – builds. Your mother loved you like a child loves a doll. She didn’t know any other way. And you know what? Neither do you.
I don’t know if I was loved. But I can sleep, you know? I can spend more than ten minutes in silence. I can look in a fucking mirror.
From the master of plays made in the rehearsal room, Narrative is a deceptive piece full of vignettes and strange goings-on. Here, Brian confronts his partner over their inability to love and realises that there is no way forward for them as a couple. He’s someone who has, until now, let the relationship be led by his partner and doesn’t have much of a sense of self-worth. But everything changes in the course of this speech.
Come up with your version of what this speech is responding to, decide how premeditated it is, if at all, and locate for yourself the moment he realises he no longer wants to be with her. Challenges include deciding what Brian wants to achieve by offering this frank assessment and to ensure it doesn’t become a telling off. Tactics could include asking genuine questions, setting it in a location where shouting is impossible or simply changing tact halfway through. Consider how many rules of the relationship are being broken when Brian brings up his partner’s infidelity or attacks her mother as well as how much it costs him to say all this and move on.
From On Love by Mick Gordon.
Yeah, okay… ahh at the moment, well. (Laughs.)
This weekend we had a bit of a breakthrough… Emma and I. Emma is my partner. Because we’ve been getting pregnant. Well, the inevitability of what was about to happen finally got through to us. It was Emma’s birthday this weekend and all her family got her books about pregnancy. About having a baby. We finally got around to having a look through them and finally agreed to go out and buy some… stuff. Frightening. Really.
We have a room now. Formerly it was just used for… stuff. And now it’s curtained. It’s got a chest of drawers. And a changing mat, all polythene wrapped. (Breath to calm down.) It’s daunting. Very frightening. We have a date, the 23rd of November. It is within thinking distance. The start of the rest of our lives.
Going to sleep every night with a heavily pregnant lover was not something I expected to be doing at this point in my life. But it is great really. Your arm isn’t quite big enough to go around two people. There are a lot of feelings of inadequacy, obviously.
So I’ll put my hand on Emma’s stomach. And she will say, “Can’t you feel it?” and I’ll say “‘Yeah!” But I can’t, because the kick will happen somewhere else. My hand isn’t big enough. The good thing is that she’s always had this thing about me touching her belly-button. She’s belly-button phobic. I’ve been trying to get my finger inside it for years. That almost orifice. Now it’s easy because it’s all stretched, and she thinks I’m feeling for the baby’s kicks when I’m really having a sneaky feel.
So last night we… I had a good idea. I keep getting naff, cosy ideas… For me to get a sense of what it’s like for her being pregnant… She has to lie on her left side. It says so in all the baby books. So I thought I’d lie in front of her so the baby, or the bump, could rest in the small of my back. Actually, I’ve got a really bad back today. Not related. And it’s great because I can feel the baby along the whole of my back but it only lasts a minute because it’s uncomfortable for her.
We’ve got eight pillows in our bed. I’ve only got one. She’s got seven. And the inflatable one with the changeable case.
Mick Gordon’s brilliant play is a survey of love in all its guises, from the almost-parent in Elliot to a young girl in love with Elvis. Here, Elliot is speaking about his experience of his wife’s pregnancy. Notice how he says “we’ve been getting pregnant” and you’ll get an idea about how he views the situation. He’s struggling to adapt to the idea of having another person in this relationship and his changing role and relationship to Emma. There are plenty of opportunities to play for laughs, such as when he corrects from “‘we” to “I had a good idea” but look for opportunities to let us into how frightened Elliot is about the future and how being relegated has affected his sense of self-worth.
From Cock by Mike Bartlett.
I’m sorry I’m not speaking, I’m sorry, I know it’s weird but I’m trying to work out how to handle this who to be because I’m two different people with the two of you when you’re separate and now I’m in the middle and no one.
I have absolutely no idea who I am. Everyone else seems to have a personality, a character but I’ve never, I’ve never – I used to do voices, I remember this, and I don’t think anyone can really understand it when I say it but I remember one moment when I couldn’t think what was my own voice, I’d been doing high voices and northern voices and men’s voices and impressions of the teachers and my dad, and people on the telly and everyone was laughing and I tried to go back to my own voice but I couldn’t remember what it is.
And I always stand in front of the mirror for ages, every day I never know what to wear, when I go shopping for clothes I bring him and he says it’s up to you, what do you like, and I think I don’t know I don’t have a fucking clue just choose something that isn’t too strange, that means I don’t look like a fucking idiot.
Short and sweet, this moment from Cock sees John confronted by two people in his life, a long-time male partner and a woman he’s fallen for. Exploring the “paralysing indecision that stems from not knowing who one really is,” this speech sees John caught in exactly that trap. He’s spent his whole life defined by other people, from the impressions of people on TV to what clothes he wears. Now he’s confronted with making a decision no one else can help him with.
Although it’s short and the words tumble together, the clue is in the first line. John doesn’t know what to do, let alone what to say to the two people confronting him. Take the space to play each objective to each of the two listeners and choose for yourself if John is shirking responsibility or coming face to face with a life-changing decision he’s going to make.
From Wink by Phoebe Eclair-Powell.
When dad died he had this shit blog he was really proud of – before Tumblr was even a thing and you would’ve thought he had just invented space travel cos he was beaming for days, going upstairs to put another post on – “gotta keep my views up, son,” and he would look at me like “see, we understand each other” but I told him that no fucker in their right mind wanted to know about middle-aged running clubs and he said “that’s where you’re wrong, son, that’s where you are so very wrong.” He would say that a lot, and try not to let me get to him, because for some reason I used to like to undermine him even though I loved him.
When he signed up for the London Marathon he linked it to his JustGiving page and it was like he had landed on the moon.
Mum said it was unfair that a man that fit should just drop down dead and her friend said – “it’s always the ones you least suspect.” And I told her to go fuck herself in my head but not out loud because everyone looks at you really hard when it’s your father’s funeral.
Shannon did a lot of fainting which was annoying, and Mum kept holding my hand saying “thank you for keeping it together – we need you to keep us all together” and so I decided that I wasn’t going to be what they needed.
Online there are people who create Facebook pages for dead people, loved ones, relatives, pets. My mum wanted me to make a page on his blog to tell people what had happened – “they need to know” she said, “they’re not pen pals, Mum, that’s not how it works, they’ll just think he gave up blogging for a bit” and I rolled my eyes at her for a full stop. Sometimes I did check it, just to see if he’d had any more views, but then I realised I was the one making the counter go up.
In Wink, Mark is dealing with the fallout of losing his father by distracting himself with porn and creating a fake Facebook persona called Tim. In this monologue, he’s confronting the fact that he’s not found a healthy way to grieve for his father by admitting that the website about running he told his dad was stupid has now become a sort-of memorial. The play is made up of monologues from Mark and a teacher, which cover connecting events. The choice here then is to either pick a character to deliver the speech towards, or to keep it in the form of a monologue.
Either way, make clear decisions on what the speaker is trying to achieve with his words. How does he want to come across and what is he not saying about losing his dad? Why does he dismiss the idea of a blog post about his father dying? Why does he refuse to play the role assigned to him (“I decided that I wasn’t going to be what they needed") and what does he want instead?
For more from Backstage UK, check out the magazine.