A List of Great Male Monologues
This is a list of the best audition monologues for men. It includes both Dramatic and Comedic monologues. Our list of male monologues features a range of classical and contemporary monologues, offering plenty of juicy writing for you to sink your teeth into. Classical text is great to develop your skills as an actor and it is typically much richer than modern text, offering actors a great challenge. That being said, it is also really important to be able to connect with contemporary monologues, so working with a mix of both is ideal. Generally I recommend having a selection of monologues from different eras up your sleeve. As an actor I believe you should have at least 2 Shakespeare monologues, and a range of 2-4 additional monologues with a mix of classic writers (Ibsen, Chekhov etc.) and a few really modern pieces (Lucy Prebble, Annie Baker etc.) – you don’t want your entire repertoire to be Sophocles!.
The monologues featured on this page are written by some of the best playwrights of all time and are great texts to work on and perform. They are also great for auditions. If you are struggling with how to perform a monologue, we have plenty of information throughout StageMilk. So after you have found your piece, keep exploring the site!
Note: some of these monologues are pieced together from longer scenes and may have additional lines added to help them make sense as stand alone monologues.
Note: choose monologues that resonate with you; something you are excited to perform.
Throw the keys down the well, and go. Be free as the wind.
Have faith in me, Anya! Have faith in me! I’m not thirty yet – I’m young – I’m still a student – but I’ve borne so much already! Every winter I’m hungry, sick and fearful, as poor as a beggar. And the places I’ve been to! The places where fate has driven me! And all the time, at every minute of the day and night, my soul has been filled with premonitions I can’t explain or describe. I have a premonition of happiness, Anya. I can just see it now.
Sure scribbling fools, called poets, fare the worst:
For they’re a sort of fools which fortune makes,
And after she has made ’em fools, forsakes.
With Nature’s oafs ’tis quite a diff’rent case,
For Fortune favours all her Idiot-race:
In her own nest the cuckoo eggs we find,
O’er which she broods to hatch the Changeling-kind.
No portion for her own she has to spare,
So much she dotes on her adopted care.
Poets are bubbles, by the town drawn in,
Suffered at first some trifling stakes to win:
But what unequal hazards do they run!
Each time they write they venture all they’ve won:
The squire that’s buttered still, is sure to be undone.
This author, heretofore, has found your favour,
But pleads no merit from his past behaviour.
To build on that might prove a vain presumption,
Should grants to poets made, admit resumption;
And in Parnassus he must lose his seat,
If that be found a forfeited estate.
He owns, with toil, he wrought the following scenes,
But if they’re naught ne’er spare him for his pains:
Damn him the more; have no commiseration
For dulness on mature deliberation.
He swears he’ll not resent one hissed-off scene,
Nor, like those peevish wits, his play maintain,
Who, to assert their sense, your taste arraign.
Some plot we think he has, and some new thought;
Some humour too, no farce; but that’s a fault.
Satire, he thinks, you ought not to expect;
For so reformed a town who dares correct?
To please, this time, has been his sole pretence,
He’ll not instruct, lest it should give offence.
Should he by chance a knave or fool expose,
That hurts none here, sure here are none of those.
In short, our play shall (with your leave to shew it)
Give you one instance of a passive poet.
Who to your judgments yields all resignation;
So save or damn, after your own discretion.
School school school school school. Fuck, um – well my parents sent me to a boarding school. I mean how hard is it to have one kid asleep at night in your house how hard is it but no . . . boarding school! Look, I gotta say I wasn’t like ‘this’ at boarding school, I didn’t like getting smashed on rocket fuel and talking about vaginas, honestly I had no interest in Alcohol at all. I spent my money on magazines and electronics – fashion mostly. By the time I reached Year Eight I had fifteen pairs of jeans. So of course the rugby guys and the rowing guys and the wrestling guys would come in at night and they’d pin me down and get it out of their system – the rage. ‘Nice shoes faggot – you got mousse in your hair let’s put mousse in his anus!’ I’d be flipping through MAD magazine and just put the thing down and take it. Fine. But then this guy called Corey joined our school, and suddenly all that stopped. Corey was older than me, bigger than me and a whole lot cooler than me. He drove a black Suzuki Vitara had five earrings and the word ‘Fuck’ tattooed inside his lip. My mum was always saying ‘bring Corey with you on the weekend’ and she’d go all flushed and wear low-cut tops in the kitchen. To this day I don’t know why he chose me but he did.
It’s too late for turning back. Too late.
How cleartell this heartache?
How begin to break the binds
Of these threads in which I’m now entwined?
Some Gods plays with me and my plans,
His cunning far outwits my petty wiles.
The rabble live with lighter load,
Unencumbered, they can cry
When the fates fuck them around.
Not so us people of position,
We must appearances preserve.
We are the slaves of our supporters.
Trapped helpless in their gaze.
What can I do?
I am ashamed to show my grief,
Yet it is shameful not to shed a tear,
Such misfortune now enmesh me.
You Gods, were things not bad enough
Without Klytaimnestra coming too?
With what words will I greet my wife?
With what face can I look at her?
A mother must tend to her daughter, I suppose,
On her daughter’s wedding day.
Though this father grieves at how
He must give his child away.
My ill-starred child,
Who will now honeymoon with Hades
On her knees she’ll beg me;
Father, do not marry me to martyrdom, Papa-
What a great place. This area’s like something out of Thomas Mann or Kafka. God it’s exciting being in Europe. So alive, isn’t it? So… pulsating. I’ve had a great morning. I saw your Roman mosaic. Went on a tour of that poet’s house. Had a look at the inn where what’s-his-name wrote his opera. And I went to this great exhibition at the big gallery. There’s some amazing things in there. Stuff I knew quite well. And that altar they’ve got! But there was this performance art thing. Incredible! There was this big pool full of fish, carp, I don’t know, and this guy, nothing on, you were right, with all these crucifixes and beads in his hair, wading through the water, dragging this little raft behind him; he had the rope in his teeth. On the raft was this pile of animal innards with candles sticking out of it. Then these other people dressed as astronauts and red Indians ran round and round the pond screaming and then they lit this fire and threw copies of the Mona Lisa into it. And then, I don’t know how they did it but the water turned bright red. Just incredible. You must see it. It’s great being here. Everything’s so exciting. I’ve been keeping everything I get. Every little item, every bus ticket, gallery ticket, the train tickets. Every postcard. Every coaster from every bar, every café.
I didn’t get you here to argue with you. I sent for you to tell you that the Indian Girl must be ready to sail the day after tomorrow. The day after tomorrow, do you hear? At the same time as our own ship; not an hour later. I have my reasons for hurrying the affair. Have you read this morning’s paper? Ah!–then you know that the Americans have been making disturbances again. The ruffianly crew turn the whole town topsy-turvy. Not a night passes without fights in the taverns or on the street; not to speak of other abominations. And who gets the blame of all this? It is I–yes, I–that suffer for it. These wretched newspaper-men are covertly carping at us for giving our whole attention to the Palm Tree. And I, whose mission it is to set an example to my fellow citizens, must have such things thrown in my teeth! I won’t bear it. I cannot have my name bespattered in this way. Not just now; precisely at this moment I need all the respect and goodwill of my fellow citizens, I have a great undertaking in hand, as you have probably heard; and if evil-disposed persons should succeed in shaking people’s unqualified confidence in me, it may involve me in the most serious difficulties. I must silence these carping and spiteful scribblers at any cost; and that is why I give you till the day after tomorrow.
I’m weak. That’s what I basically learned from our time together. I am a weak person,
and I don’t know if I can overcome that. No, maybe I do know. Yeah. I do know that I
am, and I can’t… overcome it, I mean. I think you are an amazing woman, I honestly do.
And I really love what we’ve had here. Our time together… But I think that we’re very
different people. Not just who we are- jobs or that kind of thing- but it does play into it
as well. Factors in. We probably should’ve realized this earlier, but I’ve been so happy
being near you that I just sorta overlooked it and went on. I did. But I feel it coming up
now, more and more, and I just think- No, that’s bullshit, actually, the whole work thing.
Forget it. (Beat.) I’m just, I feel that we should maybe stop before we get too far. It’s
weird to say this, because in many ways I’m already in so deep. Care about you a lot,
and that makes it superhard. But- I guess I do care what my peers think about me. Or
how they view my choices and, yes, maybe that makes me not very deep, or petty, or
some other word, hell, I don’t know! It’s my Achilles flaw or something. It doesn’t
matter. What I’m sure of is this- we need to stop. Stop seeing each other or going out or
anything like that. Because I know now how weak I am and that I’m not really deserving
of you, of all you have to offer me. I can see that now. Helen… things are so tricky, life is.
I want to be better… to do good and better things and to make a proper sort of decision
here, but I… I can’t.
It’s true. I repel them. I take a step toward them and they reel back. I disgust
them. I can tell that. They hate my guts. I get so far like once when I managed
to convince a girl, a really nice girl who I met on the net, to come and meet me
and have a drink because we’d been to-ing and fro-ing for weeks and got to
know one another a bit and I liked her and she liked me I thought. I waited for
her in a bar, a nice bar, cost ten bucks for a stubby of beer, and I saw her and I
stood up to show her I was there. She scanned the room searching for me and I
could see how she looked gorgeous really but not too gorgeous, not out of my
reach, someone who could possible quite like me. She had a lovely smile and
she was excited to meet me I guessed. And then she saw me and the smile
went and so did the excitement and I could see that it wasn’t me or anything
like me that she’d imagined. She pretended that she was looking for someone
else. She turned quickly and walked out. I didn’t bother going after her. I
thought, no, fuck her; she’s just like all the rest.
Listen… I need to… Um… Say… I mean… I know we only met earlier… And I nearly set
you on fire… And we’re both going out with people. Obviously that’s quite tricky. But…
Well… You are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on in my entire life. I
saw you and my heart leapt. You make me want to change my life. To… participate. I
know it’s not possible and that you have a boyfriend and we’re not compatible or
whatever but… I just… I know it’s stupid… but maybe just hear me out for a second and
then you can tell me I’m an idiot and we’ll both go back in and pretend this never
happened but… I want to travel the world with you. I want to bring the ice cold Amstel
to your Greek shore. And sit in silence and sip with you. I want to go to Tesco’s with you
of a Sunday. Watch you sleep, scrub your back, rub your shoulders, such your toes. I
want to write crap poetry about you, lay my coat over puddles for you, always have a
handkerchief available for you. I want to get drunk and bore my friends about you, I
want them to phone up and moan about how little they see me because I’m spending
so much time with you. I want to feel the tingle of our lips meeting, the lock of our eyes
joining, the fizz of our fingertips touching. I want to touch your fat tummy and tell you
you look gorgeous in maternity dresses, I want to stand next to you wide-eyed and hold
my nose as we open that first used nappy, I want to watch you grow old and love you
more and more each day. I want to fall in love with you. I think I could. And I think it
would be good. And I want you to say yes. You might feel the same.
Could you? Maybe?
RUTH looks at Tony
She goes to say something
Now has thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damn’d perpetually.
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease and midnight never come;
Fair nature’s eye, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul.
O lente lente currite noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus must be damn’d.
O, I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop. Ah, my Christ! –
Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
Yet will I call on him. O, spare me, Lucifer! –
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be sav’d.
O, no end is limited to damned souls.
Curs’d be the parents that engender’d me!
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
That hath depriv’d thee of the joys of heaven.
O, it strikes, it strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
O soul, be changed into little water drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne’er be found.
My God, my God! Look not so fierce on me!
Adders and serpents let me breathe awhile!
Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer;
I’ll burn my books! – Ah, Mephostophilis!
Thy speeches long ago had eased my sorrows,
For kind and loving hast thou always been.
The griefs of private men are soon allayed,
But not of kings. The forest deer, being struck,
Runs to an herb that closeth up the wounds;
But when the imperial lion’s flesh is gored,
He rends and tears it with his wrathful paw,
And highly scorning that the lowly earth
Should drink his blood, mounts up to the air.
And so it fares with me, whose dauntless mind
The ambitious Mortimer would seek to curb,
And that unnatural queen, false Isabel,
That thus hath pent and mewed me in a prison;
For such outrageous passions cloy my soul,
As with the wings of rancour and disdain
Full often am I soaring up to heaven
To plain me to the gods against them both.
But when I call to mind I am a king,
Methinks I should revenge me of my wrongs
That Mortimer and Isabel have done.
But what are kings, when regiment is gone,
But perfect shadows in a sunshine day?
My nobles rule, I bear the name of king;
I wear the crown; but am controlled by them,
By Mortimer, and my unconstant queen,
Who spots my nuptial bed with infamy
Whilst I am lodged within this cave of care,
Where sorrow at my elbow still attends
To company my heart with sad laments,
That bleeds within me for this strange exchange.
But tell me, must I now resign my crown
To make usurping Mortimer a king?
And bind them close with bits of burnish’d steel,
Down to the channels of your hateful throats,
And with the pains my rigour shall inflict,
I’ll make ye roar, that earth may echo forth
The far-resounding torments ye sustain:
As when an herd of lusty Cimbrian bulls
Run mourning round about the females’ miss,
And stung with fury of their following,
Fill all the air with troublous bellowing.
I will, with engines never exercis’d,
Conquer, sack, and utterly consume
Your cities and your golden palaces,
And with the flames that beat against the clouds
Incense the heavens, and make the stars to melt,
As if they were the tears of Mahomet
For hot consumption of his country’s pride.
And till by vision or by speech I hear
Immortal Jove say “cease, my Tamburlaine”,
I will persist a terror to the world,
Making the meteors (that, like armed men,
Are seen to march upon the towers of heaven)
Run tilting round about the firmament,
And break their burning lances in the air,
For honour of my wondrous victories.
Come, bring them in to our pavilion.
Now hear this, Willy, this is me. You know why I had no address for three months? I
stole a suit in Kansas City and I was jailed. I stole myself out of every good job since high
school. And I never got anywhere because you blew me so full of hot air I could never
stand taking orders from anybody! That’s whose fault it is! It’s goddamn time you heard
that! I had to be boss big shot in two weeks, and I’m through with it! Willy! I ran down
eleven flights with a pen in my hand today. And suddenly I stopped, you hear me? And
in the middle of that office building, do you hear this? I stopped in the middle of that
building and I saw- the sky. I saw the things that I love in the world. The work and the
food and the time to sit and smoke. And I looked at the pen and said to myself, what the
hell am I grabbing this for? Why am I trying to become what I don’t want to be? What
am I doing in an office, making a contemptuous, begging fool of myself, when all I want
is out there, waiting for me the minute I say I know who I am! Why can’t I say that,
Willy? Pop! I’m a dime a dozen, and so are you! I am not a leader of me, Willy, and
neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in
the ash-can like all the rest of them! I’m a dollar an hour, Willy! I tried seven states and
couldn’t raise it! A buck an hour! Do you gather my meaning? I’m not bringing home any
prizes any more, and you’re going to stop waiting for me to bring them home! Pop, I’m
nothing! I’m nothing, Pop. Can’t you understand that? There’s no spite in it any more.
I’m just what I am, that’s all. Will you let me go, for Christ’s sake? Will you take that
phoney dream and burn it before something happens?
I’ve found out, without them knowing, that they aren’t very well off, and that even their modest mode of life is stretching their resources to breaking point. Imagine, Elise, what a joy it would be to restore the fortune of the girl one loves, you know, give help, tactfully, with minor household expenses and all that sort of thing; and then imagine how I feel that because of father’s meanness there’s absolutely no way I can do it. I am thwarted from trumpeting to my beloved any evidence of my love.
Ah, my dear, it’s worse than you could ever imagine. Could anything be more cruel and unnatural than the way he keeps us starved of money? What good is it to us that we’ll get it when he’s gone, if by the time we’ve got it we’re too old to enjoy it? I have to borrow money simply to keep going from day to day. The only way we can both dress at all decently is on tick. I’ve had enough I tell you. I was going to ask you to help me sound father out about Mariane. If he refuses consent, we’re going to elope and we’ll just have to live on what Heavens chose to provide. I’ve been scratching around for money for this for some time. Now, if you’re in love Elise, and he opposes both of us; we’ll both leave him and free ourselves from the yoke of his tyranny for ever.
A proper love for earthly pulchritude;
Our senses are quite rightly captivated
By perfect works our Maker has created.
Some glory clings to all that Heaven has made;
In you, all Heaven’s marvels are displayed.
On that fair face, such beauties have been lavished,
The eyes are dazzled and the heart is ravished;
How could I look on you, O flawless creature,
And not adore the Author of all Nature,
Feeling a love both passionate and pure
For you, his triumph of self-portraiture?
At first, I trembled lest that love should be
A subtle snare that Hell had laid for me;
I vowed to flee the sight of you, eschewing
A rapture that might prove my soul’s undoing;
But soon, fair being, I became aware
That my deep passion could be made to square
With rectitude, and with my bounden duty.
I thereupon surrendered to your beauty.
It is, I know, presumptuous on my part
To bring you this poor offering of my heart,
And it is not my merit, Heaven knows,
But your compassion on which my hopes repose.
You are my peace, my solace, my salvation;
On you depends my bliss – or desolation;
I bide your judgment and, as you think best,
I shall be either miserable or blest.
She crosses to the bed to put on her shoes. Cliff gets up from the table and sits in the armchair. He picks up a paper and looks at that. Jimmy has recovered slightly, and manages to sound almost detached.
I rage, and shout my head off, and everyone thinks, “poor chap!” or “what an objectionable young man!” But that girl there can twist your arm off with her silence. I’ve sat in this chair in the dark for hours. And, although she knows I’m feeling as I feel now, she’s turned over and gone to sleep. One of us is crazy. One of us is mean and stupid and crazy. Which is it? Is it me? Is it me, standing here like an hysterical girl, hardly able to get my words out? Or is it her? Sitting there, putting on her shoes to go out with that — (But inspiration has deserted him by now) Which is it?
Cliff is still looking down at his paper.
I wish to heaven you’d try loving her, that’s all.
He moves up to centre, watching her look for her gloves.
Perhaps, one day, you may want to come back. I shall wait for that day. I want to stand up in your tears, and splash about in them, and sing. I want to be there when you grovel. I want to be there, I want to watch it, I want the front seat.
Helena enters, carrying two prayer books.
I want to see your face rubbed in the mud — that’s all I can hope for. There’s nothing else I want any longer.
[His good humour of a moment ago deserts him, as he begins to remember]
For twelve months, I watched my father dying — when I was ten years old. He’d come back from the war in Spain, you see. And certain god-fearing gentlemen there had made such a mess of him, he didn’t have long left to live. Everyone knew it — even I knew it. But, you see, I was the only one who cared… His family were embarrassed by the whole business. Embarrassed and irritated… As for my mother, all she could think about was the fact that she had allied herself to a man who seemed to be on the wrong side in all things. My mother was all for being associated with minorities, provided they were the smart, fashionable ones.
We all of us waited for him to die. The family sent him a cheque every month, and hoped he’d get on with it quietly, without too much vulgar fuss. My mother looked after him without complaining, and that was about all. Perhaps she pitied him. I suppose she was capable of that. [With a kind of appeal in his voice.] But I was the only one who cared! Every time I sat on the edge of his bed, to listen to him talking or reading to me, I had to fight back my tears. At the end of twelve months, I was a veteran. All that that feverish failure of a man had to listen to him was a small, frightened boy. I spent hour upon hour in that tiny bedroom. He would talk to me for hours, pouring out all that was left of his life to one, lonely, bewildered little boy, who could barely understand half of what he said. All he could feel was the despair and the bitterness, the sweet, sickly smell of a dying man.
You see, I learnt at an early age what it was to be angry — angry and helpless. And I can never forget it. I knew more about — love … betrayal … and death, when I was ten years old than you will probably every know all your life.
Tim: So I decided to go to the doctor. And I don’t know about you, but I hate doctors. Terrify me. ‘Course it was a woman doctor. Jesus, I nearly ran out of the place. But then I was thinkin’, well what would I like better – have a woman or a man feeling me…? So that made it easier. Even so, it was, you know, embarrassin’ – and the mad thing is the room was upstairs with the curtains open and didn’t the 19A fly past – and the whole top deck nearly broke their necks for a gander. She closed the curtains after that. So I start tellin’ her about my mole and cancer and all this and she starts feelin’ me – like she had plastic gloves on and I was lyin’ on this bed, like a baby almost –
That’s the thing. She looks at me and says, ‘Are you aware that you only have one testicle?’ Well, I nearly dropped, or I would have only she was holding me by the – and obviously one of them hadn’t dropped, or somethin’. ‘You’re jokin’?’ I says. She says, ‘Surely you must have noticed?’ But that was the thing. I always just assumed I had two. Like I never bothered countin’ them. I thought, I dunno, I thought maybe they were so close together they felt like one, or maybe when one was down there, the other was off doing somethin’ else – like I dunno, I just never thought about it. So she tells me then that I might have what they call an ‘undescended testes’, meanin’ that one dropped, but the other didn’t…she said I’d have to get it checked out, cos if there was one still up there it would have to be removed because, guess what – it could become cancerous. So she gives me this letter to bring to a urologist at the hospital. I make an appointment, six weeks later in I go.
He tells me there’s a one in four chance I’m not fertile, that I can’t be a father, like. I says. ‘Like is there a way of findin’ out whether I’m fertile or not?’ So he tells me there’s a sperm analysis test that I can do if I really want to. Anyway, I go off and a couple of weeks later I go back for the ultrasound. An’ I’m delighted, like, that I don’t have cancer – cancer of the missin’ ball, an’ I’m thinkin’ I’ve a great story for the lads if ever I had the nerve to tell them, but all I’m thinkin’ is, Am I fertile or not’? Can I be a dad or not?
Like I didn’t know until that moment just how much I wanted to be a father. It’s stupid, but like I’d started imaginin’ it, what I’d be like, walkin’ around with a little fella holdin’ me hand, teachin’ him how to cross the road, or a little girl and holdin’ her up in the air – the way they look down at you, they’re so amazed to be up high. And bein’ a good father like – encouragin’ your kids, givin’ them a tenner if they’re stuck, askin’ them how they are, always knowin’ if somethin’ was up, bein’ there for them, bein’ there for them always, always… givin’ your life for them, givin’ your life to them – fuckin’ hell, that’s the kind of person you want to be somebody, more of those kind of people, the kind of person I want to be. Father I wanted to be.
you know what I mean, when people make unreasonable demands on me.
For instance, last Christmas I decided to do a bit of snow-clearing for the
Borough Council, because we had a heavy snow over here that year in
Europe. Well, that morning, while I was having my mid-morning cup of tea
in a neighbouring cafe, the shovel standing by my chair, an old lady
approached me and asked me if I would give her a hand with her iron
mangle. Her brother-in-law, she said, had left it for her, but he’d left it in
the wrong room, he’d left it in the front room. Well, naturally, she wanted it
in the back room. It was a present he’d given her, you see, a mangle, to iron
out the washing. But he’d left it in the wrong room, he’d left it in the front
room, well that was a silly place to leave it, it couldn’t stay there. So I took
time off to give her a hand. She only lived up the road. Well, the only trouble
was when I got there I couldn’t move this mangle. It must have weighed
about half a ton. How this brother-in-law got it up there in the first place I
can’t even begin to envisage. So there I was, doing a bit of shoulders on
with the mangle, risking a rupture, and this old lady just standing there,
waving me on, not even lifting a little finger to give me a helping hand. So
after a few minutes I said to her, now look here, why don’t you stuff this iron
mangle up your arse? Anyway, I said, they’re out of date, you want to get a
spin drier. I had a good mind to give her a workover there and then, but as I
was feeling jubilant with the snow-clearing I just gave her a short-arm jab
to the belly and jumped on a bus outside. Excuse me, shall I take this
ashtray out of your way?
How kind of you to say so, General! You’re quite right: I am a snob. Why not? The whole strength of England lies in the fact that the enormous majority of the English people are snobs. They insult poverty. They despise vulgarity. The love nobility. They admire exclusiveness. They will not obey a man risen from the ranks. They never trust one of their own class. I agree with them. I share their instincts. In my undergraduate days I was a Republican–a Socialist. I tried hard to feel toward a common man as I do towards a duke. I couldn’t. Neither can you. Well, why should we be ashamed of this aspiration towards what is above us? Why don’t I say that an honest man’s the noblest of work of God? Because I don’t think so. If he’s not a gentleman, I don’t care whether he’s honest or not: I shouldn’t let his son marry my daughter. And that’s the test, mind. That’s the test. You feel as I do. You are a snob in fact: I am a snob, not only in fact, but on principle. I shall go down in history, not as the first snob, but as the first avowed champion of English snobbery, and its first martyr in the army. The navy boasts of two such martyrs in Captains Kirby and Wade, who were shot for refusing to fight under Admiral Benbow, a promoted cabin boy. I have always envied them their glory.
He’s a clever operator, is Walpole, though he’s only one of your chloroform surgeons. In my early days, you made your man drunk; and the porters and students held him down; and you had to set your teeth and finish the job fast. Nowadays you work at your ease; and the pain doesn’t come until afterwards, when you’ve taken your cheque and rolled up your bag and left the house. I tell you, Colly, chloroform has done a lot of mischief. It’s enabled every fool to be a surgeon. I know your Cutler Walpoles and their like. They’ve found out that a man’s body is full of bits and scraps of old organs he has no mortal use for. Thanks to chloroform, you can cut half a dozen of them out without leaving him any the worse, except for the illness and the guineas it costs him. I knew the Walpoles fifteen years ago. The father used to snip off the ends of people’s uvulas for fifty guineas, and paint throats with caustic every day for a year at two guineas a time. His brother-in-law extirpated tonsils for two hundred guineas until he took up women’s cases at double the fees. Cutler himself worked hard at anatomy to find something fresh to operate on; and at last he got hold of something he calls the nuciform sac, which he’s made quite the fashion. People pay him five hundred guineas to cut it out. They might as well get their hair cut for all the difference it makes; but I suppose they feel important after it. You can’t go out to dinner now without your neighbor bragging to you of some useless operation or other.
And we walked right through town. Past the donut shop, past the miniature golf course, past the Chevron station. And he opened the bottle up and offered it to me. Before he even took a drink, he offered it to me first. And I took it and drank it and handed it back to him. And we just kept passing it back and forth like that as we walked until we drank the whole thing dry. And we never said a word the whole time. Then, finally, we reached this little white house with a red awning, on the far side of town. I’ll never forget the red awning because it flapped in the night breeze and the porch light made it glow. It was a hot, desert breeze and the air smelled like new cut alfalfa. We walked right up to the front porch and he rang the bell and I remember getting real nervous because I wasn’t out for a expecting to visit anybody. I thought we were just out for a walk. And then this woman comes to the door. This real pretty woman with red hair. And she throws herself into his arms. And he starts crying. He just breaks down right there in front of me. And she’s kissing him all over the face and holding him real tight and he’s just crying like a baby. And then through the doorway, behind them both. I see this girl. She just appears. She’s just standing there, staring at me and I’m staring back at her and we can’t take our eyes off each other. It was like we knew each other from somewhere but we couldn’t place where. But the second we saw each other, that very second, we knew we’d never stop being in love.
Sirs, the vessel of our state, after being tossed on wild waves, hath once more been safely steadied by the gods: and ye, out of all the folk, have been called apart by my summons, because I knew, first of all, how true and constant was your reverence for the royal power of Laius; how, again, when Oedipus was ruler of our land, and when he had perished, your steadfast loyalty still upheld their children. Since, then, his sons have fallen in one day by a twofold doom–each smitten by the other, each stained with a brother’s blood–I now possess the throne and all its powers, by nearness of kinship to the dead. No man can be fully known, in soul and spirit and mind, until he hath been seen versed in rule and law-giving. For if any, being supreme guide of the state, cleaves not to the best counsels, but, through some fear, keeps his lips locked, I hold, and have ever held, him most base; and if any makes a friend of more account than his fatherland, that man hath no place in my regard. For I–be Zeus my witness, who sees all things always–would not be silent if I saw ruin, instead of safety, coming to the citizens; nor would I ever deem the country’s foe a friend to myself; remembering this, that our country is the ship that bears us safe, and that only while she prospers in our voyage can we make true friends. Such are the rules by which I guard this city’s greatness. And in accord with them is the edict which I have now published to the folk touching the sons of Oedipus; that Eteocles, who hath fallen fighting for our city, in all renown of arms, shall be entombed, and crowned with every rite that follows the noblest dead to their rest. But for his brother, Polyneices–who came back from exile, and sought to consume utterly with fire the city of his fathers and the shrines of his fathers’ gods–sought to taste of kindred blood, and to lead the remnant into slavery–touching this man, it hath been proclaimed to our people that none shall grace him with sepulture or lament, but leave him unburied, a corpse for birds and dogs to eat, a ghastly sight of shame.
Come in, and we’ll talk. I heard you out there listening. It is late, but we must come to some decision. Sit down. [Pause] I have been at the post office tonight to get my letters. From these it appears that you have been keeping back my mail, both coming and going. The consequence of which is that the loss of time has as good as destroyed the result I expected from my work. In consequence of all this I have intercepted letters addressed to you. It appears from these letters that for some time past you have been arraying my old friends against me by spreading reports about my mental condition. And you have succeeded in your efforts, for now not more than one person exists from the Colonel down to the cook, who believes that I am sane. Now these are the facts about my illness; my mind is sound, as you know, so that I can take care of my duties in the service as well as my responsibilities as a father; my feelings are more or less under my control, as my will has not been completely undermined; but you have gnawed and nibbled at it so that it will soon slip the cogs, and then the whole mechanism will slip and go smash. [Pause] I have worked and slaved for you, your child, your mother, your servants; I have sacrificed promotion and career; I have endured torture, flaggellation, sleeplessness, worry for your sake, until my hair has grown gray; and all that you might enjoy a life without care, and when you grew old, enjoy life over again in your child. This is the commonest kind of theft, the most brutal slavery. [Cries] I thought I was completing myself when you and I became one, and therefore you were allowed to rule, and I, the commander at the barracks and before the troops, became obedient to you, grew through you, looked up to you as to a more highly-gifted being, listened to you as if I had been your undeveloped child. You always had the advantage. You could hypnotize me when I was wide awake, so that I neither saw nor heard, but merely obeyed; you could give me a raw potato and make me imagine it was a peach; you could force me to admire your foolish caprices as though they were strokes of genius. You could have influenced me to crime, yes, even to mean, paltry deeds. Because you lacked intelligence, instead of carrying out my ideas you acted on your own judgment. But when at last I awoke, I realized that my honor had been corrupted and I wanted to blot out the memory by a gread deed, an achievement, a discovery, or an honorable suicide. I wanted to go to war, but was not permitted. It was then that I threw myself into science. And now when I was about to reach out my hand to gather in its fruits, you chop off my arm. Now I am dishonored and can live no longer, for a man cannot live without honor.
So you can’t decide?
Don’t over think it. Choose a monologue that is in your age range and not too far from yourself. If you like playing high stakes (emotional) scenes choose something that you really connect with on a visceral level. Otherwise, just choose something you feel comfortable with. In an audition they want to see you. So many actors think it’s an acting contest, but it isn’t. They want to see your essence and see you at your most relaxed and creative.
Decision paralysis is a big issue for actors. I recommend giving yourself a time limit – reading through a bunch of pieces and then just selecting something. All of the above monologues are incredible, so it’s less about finding the perfect piece and more about selecting one you resonated with and are excited to perform. Follow that excitement and don’t get too in your head about the choice.
We have a great article on how to rehearse a monologue if you are getting preparing for an upcoming audition. Make sure you read the play and have a good understanding of the text. Keep your process fluid and always avoid getting stuck in PATTERNS. The most common issue I see with actor’s monologues is that they feel like MONOLOGUES. Remember that a monologue is still a scene, it is still about what you are doing to the other person. The second it starts to feel like a presentation, lecture or “speech” we are in trouble. Think about who you are talking to and really connect to the underlying WANT of the piece. WHY are you saying these words? WHY has the writer put this monologue in the play? Figure this out and you are cooking!
Now go and have some fun! Working on monologues should be an absolute blast, so don’t turn it into homework. Enjoy the process of unpacking the incredible language of some of the greatest plays to have ever been written. If you have any questions at all we are always here to help!