Author: Denis McCourt, MFA Associate Chair, Performing Arts Department, New York Film Academy Los Angeles
Having auditioned thousands of Actors and heard thousands of monologues over the years, here are some practical and impactful tips to keep in mind in your quest to find the holy grail of audition material. Oh God yes, this is another article about audition monologues and I want you to read it so you can be a success.
OH WHERE, OH WHERE HAS MY MONOLOGUE GONE?
In the audition race, it is better to ride a thoroughbred than a donkey! So, when you are looking for sources to find great material, I suggest the following websites:
• The Pulitzer Prize (for drama)
• The Tony Awards
• The Oscars
Once you go to these sites, you can look up awards that were given to Best Play, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor, Best Supporting Male Actor, and Best Supporting Female Actor. But it also will tell you the other nominees in those categories. All of these actors were riding finely bred material that won the race. If you begin to research and follow the careers of actors you admire and are your type, you will discover material that might just be a strong fit for you. Now, you may say, “but that material will be overdone.” And that may be true; however, you now have a resource of actors to research, as well as playwrights and screenwriters to find other great material from. For many of these writers it is not their first rodeo and could be a gold mine for you to tap into.
MONOLOGUES ARE DIALOGUE…YOU’RE JUST THE ONLY ONE TALKING
You may think you are talking to yourself, but you are not. Monologues are really dialogue. And because you are talking to someone else, (even if they’re not there) it should feel important, immediate and filled with a strong sense of purpose and objective. What? Objective!? Yes, objective! What do you want from this imaginary person you are chatting with? If you believe you need and want something from them, the casting director will believe you do too. And Voilà! You have selected a strong audition piece. Passive or past tense reflections can be beautiful, but they can lack urgency and you run the risk of people falling asleep on you.
I NEED YOU TO LISTEN TO ME BECAUSE…
When you look for monologues, seek out heightened moments in the story arc. If you find a climactic moment or at least near the top of the rising action moment, the juice needed for a strong piece should be there. There should be a compelling need for the character to communicate; hence, you the actor will feel vital, engaged and working towards getting something from the other. And then you stand a chance to shine in your audition.
FINALLY, I’M JUST A BALL OF CONTRADICTIONS!
At the starting line, any prepared actor is going to have at least three to five monologues ready at the go. So, you want to find pieces that show various sides of yourself. Can you make me laugh? Can you make me cry? Or even better: make me laugh and then cry in one minute? If you find monologues that show unique sides of yourself. If you allow us to experience your heart, your vulnerability and your humanity–you definitely might get called back. At the end of the day, casting folk want to see you in these monologues that you are performing. And that is why you should choose pieces that share something in common with you: point of view, life experience, funny quirky–isms or just a heart felt truth.
So, happy hunting! A strong monologue can serve you in your auditions for years to come.