How to choose a great monologue

By | April 8, 2021


WHAT ARE YOU AUDITIONS FOR? To choose the right monologue, you must first look at the context of what you are auditioning for. Is it a college drama program? Is it a specific game? For specific games, it is best to stick to monologues that are similar to the style of the game. For example, if you’re trying Emil’s role in ‘Our City’, ‘you’re wise to stay away from Charles Mee’s pieces or something from Shakespeare. If you are not given strict guidelines for what to prepare, go with pieces that are close to the game you want to be in (it requires a bit of Googling). For college drama programs, however, you will be told what to prepare – in general, these programs will require a classic and modern monologue.

CAN YOU GET THE ORIGINALITY OF A CLASSIC MONOLOGY? The term classical monologue refers to a monologue from plays by William Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Moliere, Anton Chekhov and the like. In layman’s terms, a classic monologue is one of a game that is well-established, respected, and quite frankly, older. While you may have a limited choice in choice, the key with classic monologues should stay away from the easy-to-use games, such as ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘The Importance of Being Serve’, etc. Instead, choose lesser known gigs with good juicy material. For example, instead of William Shakespeare, you choose a monologue from a play by Christopher Marlowe. You will be able to create more credibility with the auditions if you seem to have knowledge of theater and lesser known gems. If you have to go with Shakespeare (which is sometimes required), be sure to choose a lesser known monologue and translate the words into modern English to help you succeed.


DO YOU HAVE A LARGE KEY IN CONTEMPORARY MONOLOGIES? Basically, everything classical monologue is a contemporary monologue. Although it may seem easier to choose one of them to try, it is not always the case. The people you’re trying for will be upset if you show the twentieth rendition of ‘The Glass Menagerie.’ Show them you have originality and are different by choosing more rare monologues. An important source for this is the Humana Festival, which is a major festival for playwrights held at the Actors’ Theater in Louisville, KY. Find some of the collection of gigs (there are many, many books) on Barnes and Noble, your library, internet, etc., and pull out some amazing monologues. I highly suggest Naomi Wallace (especially for young girls) and Charles Mee. It is a very prestigious festival and the judges will like you a lot to know about it and wonderful, juicy gigs.

DO YOU HAVE A COMMON SENSE IN AUDITIONING? In general, you never try to play a character that is too far away from you – It’s about age, race, gender, etc. It does not show what you can really do and is a faux pas in the drama world. Also, if you are trying out a game, NEVER use a monologue from a movie. Make sure your monologue is appropriate (no sexual acts or anything that will shock the auditions negatively).


CAN YOU KEEP ALL YOUR MONOLOGIES? A good way to pull a monologue out in a flash is to invest in a folder from Wal-Mart or Target and every time you stumble across a monologue you want to copy / scan / print the monologue and place it in the folder. On the one hand, labeling ‘CLASSIC’ and on the other hand ‘CONTEMPORARY.’ For example, while a monologue may not be suitable for an audition, it may be great for one in the future.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure you dress appropriately for the audition – ideally a pair of nice black dress pants, a conservative top and black, closed shoes (maybe even character shoes) are ideal if you are not sure.
  • Use your hair back in a ponytail (or half-ponytail) to keep it away from your face, and do not wear large or distracting jewelry.
  • Never, ever chew gum during an audition!
  • Before I discovered my true college passion, psychology / social work, I was, well, a theater guy. While theater is still something I participate in all the time, I decided to dedicate my college years to something that could give me, to be quite open, a living. However, I managed to be accepted to a number of top-ranked schools across the country in theater and participated in one of the best. In my opinion, it had a lot to do with my choice of monologues. Here are some tips that I have learned over the years on how to choose a good monologue.