Monologues are an invaluable part of an actor’s toolkit. They’re the things you’ll use to audition for drama school or for your next big part, and they’ll likely make up the bulk of your first demo reel. For this reason, choosing the right monologue is an art—and you’d be shocked by how many actors don’t bother to invest in this process. If you’ve ever found yourself searching for your monologue, and being bored by the same tired selections over and over and over, then this page is for you. Why not find something new? Something you can really put your own, personal stamp on?
This article contains a selection of copyright-free short monologues for actors. These monologues were developed by us, right here at StageMilk, in order to give you material you can use for auditions, demo reels, a showcase or even to perform in a drama class.
Along with the scripts themselves, we’ve included a few tips and tricks on performing monologues, a few reminders about script analysis and some other resources available on the StageMilk site. Whatever you need, we’ve got you covered!
Updated 31st Jan, 2023.
Why Perform Copyright-Free Scripts?
It’s not something we tend to think about, but most scripts that you’ll encounter as an actor are protected by copyright. This means that you should technically be paying a writer for its use if you intend to record or perform it. However, as most actors aren’t using monologues or scenes for direct financial gain, there is a bit of legal wiggle room when it comes to using such material. It’s also extremely difficult to enforce copyright laws on every actor with a stack of photocopied monologues from their local library.
Our advice, however, is to have a think about where your scripts come from. If you can, find ways to support and respect the artists who wrote them. Can you buy their work in another form, or support them via a Patreon or the like? At the very least, can you try tagging them via social media or reaching out to them directly for permission? If you’ve found their work in a book you always use, consider getting it as a gift for an actor friend! Do your best to pay it forward when you can.
The good news is that this page is written with this conundrum directly in mind! These scripts are fair game, so you can work on them and perform them guilt free!
A Quick Note from a Writer
Hello! My name is Alexander Lee-Rekers; I’m a professional playwright and screenwriter, as well as the author of most of the scripts on this page. I hereby give you permission to use the scenes on this page for personal practice, as well as showreels and auditions. All I ask is that you credit my work—especially if you post it on social media. (If you’re feeling brave, you can tag me via @alexnobodyfamous so I can see what you do with it!) None of these scenes are to be recorded, filmed, staged, re-written, developed or adapted for professional purposes. Additionally, no learning institutions may use these materials in classes, for showreel/demo reel filming or any context wherein participants pay for their use (except for the good folk here at StageMilk). Legal stuff aside: go for it!
Free Short Monologues For Actors
The following scenes have been purpose-written for actors to use in auditions, demo reels and showcases. The format of the scripts is the in-house formatting we use in our online Scene Club, which is actually where these scripts originated. If you like what you read, consider joining up for coaching sessions each month and the chance to read some fresh original material. You’ll hear it there, first!
We’ve included a few details on casting and performance on each script below, but feel free to take these more as guidelines than hard-and-fast rules. You’ll be the best judge of whether or not a script is right for you. And an age/gender swap/total disregard can be an excellent challenge!
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: Karen, a waitress in a middle-of-nowhere cafe, rehearses what she’s going to tell her boss in order to secure time off for a much-needed holiday.
Performance Notes: Consider the given circumstances of this scene: where Karen is, what time it is, where she’s come from and where she’s going. There’s plenty of context that can be suggested to the audience by how she delivers this speech. It’s also worth putting some consideration into her scene partner. Who is Cal? Are Karen and Cal close? Finally, play with the fact that Karen is ‘performing’ what she’s going to say. How does this differ from her usual way of speaking with somebody?
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Tyson returns home with a present for his wife and a story about a strange ordeal at a department store.
Performance Notes: There is a lot to be done in determining character relationships in this monologue. Are they close, or have they been having problems for a while now. More importantly: is Tyson’s admission a shock to his wife, or something she suspected? Think about how Tyson’s wife is receiving this information and reacting—and remind yourself that a monologue is still a scene between two people, even if only one character gets to speak.
Length: 1 – 2 mins
Synopsis: Gus relays a painful childhood memory to his therapist about a beloved talking teddy bear.
Performance Notes: Spend time on the moment before this monologue. What has the therapist said to prompt this discussion about Mr. Jenkins? Why hasn’t Gus brought this painful memory up before? When playing Gus, be sure to play with imagery: help us see what you do when you relay this memory, and help us experience not only the story, but how you feel when recounting it.
Length: 1 – 2 mins
Synopsis: Gemma talks about her life working in a shop after an unspecified personal ordeal.
Performance Notes: The writer has left plenty of room in this monologue for you to really build the character and world of Gemma as you see fit. Work out the facts you have to play with in the scene by studying the text, and ask questions around those to fill in the gaps and make this speech feel real. Who is Gemma speaking to? Where do they work? What’s happened in their life that got them to this moment?
Length: 1 min
Synopsis: Greta justifies quitting their job to a horrified housemate.
Performance Notes: Comedy is often about the clash between the mundane and extraordinary: a ridiculous character in a normal world, or the only sane person in a land of madness. Greta considers herself firmly as the latter. Work to making her piece feel grounded, play to the urgency of the situation and her objective of convincing her housemate. The funny will come naturally.
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Hank tells a loved one about an occurrence in their childhood, and how that has since affected their outlook on living.
Performance Notes: Weird piece, huh? Just as the audience might be thrown by that first line, it’s up to you to think about who the person you’re speaking to in the scene might take it. Are they surprised? Did they already know? Is this a speech you give them a lot? As with any monologue, remember that your job is to communicate ideas to your scene partner, so have an objective in mind with this piece. Why are you telling them these things? To amuse them? To comfort them? To apologise?
Length: 1 – 2 mins
Synopsis: Gripe talks to Olly in an alley behind a bar … full of questions and thoughts about a recent police interview.
Performance Notes: What’s happened before this scene? What incident is Gripe talking about? It’s up to you to answer this (using clues from the writer via script analysis) and keep it in mind throughout the scene. It’s also worth thinking about how truthful Gripe is being: about their involvement in the crime, what really happened at the police station. Finally, what is their objective in this moment? What do they want from Olly?
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Sam talks to an old friend, Mary, at the grave of their mutual friend Essie.
Performance Notes: Despite this being a monologue, there are actually three characters to consider in this piece: Sam, Mary and Essie. Consider mapping out their relationships, plotting out their personal histories and working out what might have happened to bring them to this place. How did Essie die? Did Sam and Mary have anything to do with it? Had Sam and Mary planned to run into each other in this scene? Also, take note of the line breaks in this scene: why has the writer broken the dialogue into the chunks they have? Can they denote different ideas, attitudes or actions?
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Althea relays an interesting dream to her ex-partner Chris at a pub.
Performance Notes: Althea’s dream gives us direct access to her subconscious; for this reason the monologue is great for letting you tap directly into a character and get a sense of them unfiltered. At the same time, you’ll need to make a call on whether or not this encounter has a hidden motive. Is Althea really over Chris? And if not, is she even aware of this fact? This monologue grants plenty of opportunities for you to ‘check in’ with the character of Chris. How does he take this information? What’s he doing: laughing, frowning, squirming, checking his phone? And how do his reactions make Althea change the tack of her words so that she still gets what she wants?
Length: 2 mins
Synopsis: Mack confronts a childhood acquaintance at a book signing.
Performance Notes: Before you tackle with anything else in this scene, consider the given circumstances. Where is it set? Who else is around? How might the setting make Mack feel? Let these modifiers play into how this scene is spoken—it’s very important that a monologue such as this feels informed by the world of the story, and doesn’t simply play out in a vacuum. Also worth consideration is the veracity of Mack’s claims. Is he remembering things correctly? Or has he buried some uncomfortable truths that are just now bubbling up to the surface… Don’t be afraid for this piece to feel menacing.
Tips for Performing Monologues
Once you’ve selected a piece that resonates with you, it’s worth considering a few of the below points before diving in. Most importantly: these monologues do not come from larger works. Whatever you can learn about these stories is all you have to work with. And hey, this might be scary for you to consider. You can’t look at the end of the script or watch the movie to answer a question about the scene or the character. Context be damned!
But what this actually means is that you have the chance to put a personal spin on the piece. Anything you can extrapolate from the text is fair game to build your performance on. So engage in some script analysis and ask questions that will give some depth to the world.
Know who you’re speaking to in the scene. Just because a monologue is one character talking doesn’t mean you don’t want something from the person you’re talking to. Who is that? And what about their identity modifies the words? We talk differently to an enemy than we do a friend, or a lover, or a police officer, or an auntie. Work out who you’re speaking to and communicate with them. Connect!
Consider your actions and objective. Your objective is what you want from your scene partner: it’s the reason your character shows up in the first place. Your actions are the tactics you play to get what you want. Plot them out and play them until you’ve exhausted that particular tactic, then pivot to something else. Threatening somebody not working? Try flirting, or bargaining, or distracting…
Additional Monologue Resources
There you have it: custom-written, original monologues for you to bring to life! If you’re still looking for other options, or would love to do some further reading on the subject, take a look at the additional resources below.
- Script Analysis: How to Get the Most out of a Scene
- What is a Monologue?
- How to Perform a Monologue
- How to Write a Monologue
- How to Pick a Drama School Audition Monologue
For additional monologue material:
- Comedy Monologues
- Monologues from Movies
- Monologues from TV
- Shakespeare Comedy Monologues
- Monologues Unpacked: A comprehensive collection of Shakespearean monologues, including context, analysis and performance notes.
Finally, we have some additional copyright-free original scenes available at: Practice Scripts for Actors. Both of these pages are updated regularly, so be sure to keep checking in for any fresh material.