8 Tips for Finding Great Monologues
by Studio Director Rachael Patterson
As an actor there are aspects of your career in which you are in the driver’s seat and many variables that are completely out of your control. Your training, education, professionalism, work ethic, headshots, resume and monologue selection are variables which you can absolutely control. And while finding great monologues is essential, finding material that speaks to you, is age appropriate and not over used, can feel like a daunting challenge.
Here are a few tips to help you find great monologues!
1. A good monologue is essentially a strong, active, two-person scene. So it’s best to avoid material in which you are merely relating a story about your past. If you are telling a story, there should be a reason in the present, something that you are trying to accomplish in the relationship with your imaginary partner, today.
2. For the most part, stick to plays when looking for audition pieces. Occasionally one can find an interesting piece from a little known or unknown independent film, but in general stay away from film scripts. I’ll never forget watching someone audition with a piece from “Scarface,” it was almost comical to observe this person playing a role that was so closely associated with Al Pacino.
3. Good sources include 1) 10 Minute Plays 2) One Act Plays 3) Various new plays festivals often publish new works. 4) Festivals, such as the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville, always include an anthology of very short plays inspired by a single theme. 5) Be wary of relying on monologue books; the pieces may be over done. However, if you find a monologue that speaks to you, consider ordering and reading the play, you may find additional pieces, not found in the monologue book.
4. Scour the Dramatic Publishing Houses for new and little known works. 1) Playscripts is a publishing company whose website allows you to read up to 90% of the play before you purchase: www.playscripts.com. 2) Smith and Krauss publishes plays, collections and anthologies; a great resource.www.smithandkraus.com. 3) Samuel French. Like the folks at Playscripts, Samuel French now lets you read free excerpts of their plays. www.samuelfrench.com. 4) Dramatists. www.dramatists.com In addition to the plays they publish there is a cool feature on the Dramatists Website called Page to Stage, you can view all of the current and upcoming productions of DPS Plays by title, author, city or state.
5. Leave them wanting more. Time your monologue and cut if necessary. Your piece should be between 90 seconds and 2 minutes…..no more!
6. Look for the humor in dramatic pieces. Look for the serious, truthful, connected moments in comedic pieces. Focus on finding great monologues and not worrying too much about the genre.
7. Consider piecing together a piece of dialogue in order to create a monologue. The piece will be active, in relationship and uniquely yours!
8. Don’t work in a vacuum. Consider a great Monologue Class or working with a coach….they can help you search for material and fine tune your pieces!