How to Pick the Perfect Monologue
Monologues have to be some of the most important, useful things in an actor’s repertoire. Want to show off your acting skills on your demo reel but have no one around to help you do a scene? Easy, pull out your best monologue. A casting director asks you if you have anything else prepared in an audition? Flex your skills by surprising them with a monologue. Out at dinner with friends and you’re feeling a little dramatic? Well, you know what’s up. There is a monologue for every occasion: so let’s find one for you.
Finding a monologue that is perfect for you will help you feel prepared and confident as an actor. The central crux, the drive of the monologue and the character delivering it, should resonate with you personally. Furthermore, it is important to decide what the monologue is more: the right monologue for the right situation. For example, I would not recommend busting out “To be or not to be…” if you were auditioning for a television sitcom (however it might be perfect for a drama audition.)
As you search, keep in mind the purpose of the monologue, as well as your age, gender and ethnicity. For most monologues it’s usually acceptable to take some artistic license and play around—within the realm of respect that doesn’t step into cultural appropriation. What will have people raising their eyebrows at you is, for example, if you are an eighteen-year-old actor performing a monologue about an old man reminiscing about the last 80 years of his life. Or if you are a male-identifying actor doing a monologue about the labours of childbirth, and so forth. Sure, you could do this, but the more you can relate to the monologue you are performing, the better you will connect with it.
Finding a Monologue
I am going to take a guess and say that you are trying to find a great monologue so that you can use it for an audition (for drama school, let’s say) or to use for a self-tape or competition. If so, there is always a debate of whether you should do a famous monologue that you like, or try and do something different and niche. This is a hard-hitting question with two sides to it.
On one hand, doing something different will help you stand out from the crowd—which can be important when you are competing for a role or a place at a drama school against dozens, if not hundreds, of other actors. Think of the person panelling drama school auditions, watching the same twenty monologues all day. If you come in with something new (with the acting skills to back it up) then you might just be a breath of fresh air for them.
Another reason you may want to stay away from monologues everybody knows is because of comparison to the original. Take the famous monologue from A Few Good Men, where Jack Nicholson screams out, “You can’t handle the truth!” It’s a classic, a popular monologue and seems a like a solid choice to pick. So why should you avoid it? Because you are not Jack Nicolson (no offence), and you can bet that whomever you perform it in front of is going to make the same comparison.
However, there are a few pros to doing a classic monologue. The more well-known and famous monologues have been done so often that there is a lot of information on them: clever interpretations, character breakdowns and methods to avoid performing them poorly. Right here on StageMilk, our Monologues Unpacked series looks at each Shakespearean monologue with expert detail. Even the dreaded “To be or not to be…”
Any research you can do will help develop a well-rounded view of the character and text. But remember that there’s no right or wrong way, just points you may wish to consider. If you are simply working on a monologue for pure fun, artistry or self expression, then feel free to ignore the above advice. Don’t let me, or others, stop you from working on something you enjoy. Experiment. Play!
Take a look at these links for some ideas: the latest WAAPA audition monologues as well as some classics for men and women.
Creating a Monologue Repertoire
A good actor is always prepared, and finding a monologue or two can aid you in being that kind of actor. An old acting coach of mine once told me that you should always have two, even three monologues prepared at all times, because you just never know when you will have to perform something unexpectedly. Believe me: you will thank yourself if you are ever in that situation and you have the perfect monologue (or any) already prepared. Ideally your repertoire will have one dramatic, one comedy, and one Shakespearean monologue.
So let’s look at creating a monologue repertoire. The more diverse it is the better. My first tip is this:
The best way of finding a monologue is to read and watch content you enjoy. There is a good chance that you are going to spend a considerable amount of time learning and perfecting the monologue; by picking something you enjoy, you will be more likely to stick with its development and give it more passion when you perform.
Do you need a better excuse to go out and watch theatre or stay home and have a movie night? Listed below though are various websites that contains monologues from different genres, plays, movies, and TV shows.
Monologue Resources Online
- Opening Monologue has a section for both drama and comedy, and offers a search bar so you can find specific monologues you may be looking for.
- The Script Lab is an invaluable website if you are looking for great content to read. Although they do not specialise in monologues, they do have access to some awesome, well-known scripts. From Golden Eye, to Game of Thrones, to Avatar, to your favourite TV show, the basic (and free) membership is worth looking into if you are trying to read more quality content.
- Monologue Genie is a cool, niche little website that offers many unique and original monologues for performance and auditioning. You won’t find these monologues elsewhere, and although their selection isn’t huge by any means they are original and, if I may say so, worth while looking into. Each monologue also has an about section so you will get a general gist of what is happening.
- Why Sanity is a strange, out-of-date-looking website that appears to be pulled out of the 90s. However, despite its baseness, I have found some of my favourite monologues on there. If you are looking to jump down a classic TV and movie monologue rabbit hole, this would be the place to start.
- Stage Agent has probably one of the most comprehensible monologue databases that I have ever seen. They have a “pro” version to help you search and find the exact monologue for your age range, but to be honest, the free version is more than fine. If you’re after something specific to you as a person, this database would be your first stop.
- You’d think that a website called Monologues would be a great place to find just that, and it is. They are specifically a good place to go when you want to challenge yourself as they specialise in much longer monologues. Some of them spanning up to 10 minutes! Maybe not ideal for an audition when time is limited, but great to get into for a good challenge.
StageMilk Monologue Resources
Finally, we have plenty of monologue resources right here on StageMilk! These selections have been hand-picked by our team over the years; we even have a newer page with original monologues written in-house—if you’re looking for something fresh.
- Monologues from Movies
- Monologues for Men
- Monologues for Women
- Comedic Monologues
- Monologues from TV Shows
And remember, our Scene Club works on monologues each month if you’re looking for some expert coaching and fresh selections!
Is Shakespeare really so important that he gets his own section in this article? Of course he is. He is the absolute G.O.A.T. when it comes to monologues. He literally has hundreds, so how do you pick? Well, first thing you should do is to pick up Shakespeare and get reading. Am I trying to trick you into reading Shakespeare? Yes, yes I am. I am one of those old school weirdoes who believes that all actors should read, study and perform the works of the great poet and scribe? Also yes.
If you need help decoding the puzzle that is Shakespeare (or at least, that’s how it feels sometimes), we have plenty of resources at your fingertips so you can live and breathe your best 1600s self.
- Our Monologues Unpacked project, which provides breakdowns on every monologue in the Bard’s back catalogue.
- How to Read Shakespeare
- How to Act Shakespeare
As you can imagine, Shakespeare has what feels like an infinite selection of monologues to pick. I found the website below, coincidentally named “Shakespeare Monologues” that I believe is one of the more well organised selections of the topic on the world wide web. It doesn’t have the in-depth breakdowns we offer here on-site, but you will find each of his monologues put into different categories so that you can find the right one for you. Or you could read all the plays and go from there. Your choice.
I hope you have found some value in this pseudo-monologue (what are feature articles, but long-as-hell monologues?) If you need any hints, tips or tricks in regards to monologues in general, we have you covered. If I can leave you with one last tip: pick monologues that you enjoy. It is not often that you, as an actor, get the freedom to pick and choose the character, scenes and words that you wish to learn and perform. So go with your heart when it comes to picking your monologues.
Good luck on your search, and learn well.
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