9 ELEMENTS OF A GREAT MONOLOGUE- By Gwyn Gilliss
Monologues are always the most difficult auditions to pull off successfully, so be prepared. Follow these following strategies when choosing one.
1. Select an entertaining one.
No one in the industry wants to watch an actor working really hard to impress them with their “acting” especially if the piece is boring or mediocre. Choose a monologue you love doing so that the casting director will love watching you.
2. Find one that “fits you like a glove” so they believe you.
Know your type and range as far as being cast. Make sure the part is age-appropriate and physically accurate. It’s hard to watch a 25-year-old woman try to be a 45-year-old guy from Minnesota. A monologue is the time to show who you are, not add layers of dialects, character traits, a limp, or something outrageous to impress. Avoid props unless it is so essential to the scene that it won’t work without one. If they can’t tell you are acting, that’s good acting.
3. Choose one that is serio-comedic—not just comedic or dramatic.
Show us some change in emotion but keep us laughing. Serio-comedic monologues are a great choice. Start with a piece that is funny, quirky, and gets people to laugh and then flip the page. Hit them with something that’s heartbreaking or touching. They’re already in your corner and you’ve won them over! Be compelling to get them involved in liking you, loving you, and hiring you!
4. Work on one that has an “arc” or storyline.
Avoid the “Johnny One-Note” monologues that show one emotion throughout. It can be boring and tedious. There is nothing worse than watching someone rant and rave angrily at the audience for four minutes. We all love to hear stories with twists and turns. So try to bring the casting director along with you.
5. Keep it short.
Nearly every agent will make up their minds about an actor in less than 10 seconds. After two minutes they can change their mind and it goes the other way. Stay within their attention span, and you’ll have more success.
6. Find one with an element of surprise.
If the audience is three steps ahead of you, they get bored very fast. Shift gears suddenly and change your mood or voice. Find a way to keep them on the edge of their seats, wondering what will happen next. Everyone loves to be pleasantly surprised.
7. Choose one that is not full of foul language or rude sexual innuendos.
The exception here is unless it is essential to the character, who in spite of the language is funny or quirky. But be careful. Well-written monologues like that are few and far between, and most actors aren’t clever enough to pull them off. You run the risk of alienating everyone within earshot, and then looking like a mediocre actor on top of it. Choose good writing over something flashy to impress.
8. Discover one that shows you’e a winner.
When you leave the room, what will they think of you? What was your lasting impression? Will they cast you? Call you back or shrug? Most importantly, don’t choose to play a loser, someone who whines, or is a victim. Everyone loves to watch feisty characters. They don’t like to watch losers. Leave them thinking you are amazingly courageous.
9. Avoid a recognizable one that a movie star did really well.
You’ll be compared to that star and you won’t win. (Examples include Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” or Angelina Jolie in “Girl Interrupted.”) Those monologues are done badly with actors who simply lack the personality, not talent, to pull it off. Don’t go there. You are not Matt Damon or Angelina Jolie. Find a likeable character and do the monologue your way. Then you’ll be a winner!