The Dreaded Words: "Please Prepare A Monologue"

ATC's Studio Director tackles how to find a monologue. By Becky Blomgren


"Finding good monologues is a muscle like any other. And that muscle will get stronger the more time you spend pulling your own material."

“Please prepare a monologue.”


These four words can send even the most seasoned actor into a panic. (For the parent/guardian of a young actor, it can feel even more stressful.)

Sometimes it can feel like there are all these things you’re just supposed to KNOW already, but you might be asking yourself:

  • What even IS a monologue?

  • How am I supposed to just “find one”??

  • Once I find one, how do I know it’s even any good???

At this point, you might think to yourself, “Hey, let’s just use that speech from the movie I just saw” or “Shoot, why don’t I just write something funny on my own?” DON’T. (Trust me.)


Instead, just follow these 5 tips below!


1. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR

A monologue generally needs to be between 60-90 seconds.

While finding a large chunk of speech from one character might feel like the gold mine you’ve been looking for, the best monologues are often pieced together from conversations between characters. This provides your character with an active scene partner who can present obstacles, and this keeps your character working towards a goal. (This is WAY more interesting to watch than a character simply telling a story for 90 seconds.)


Think of a monologue as a conversation, where your character is doing most of the talking and the other person’s lines have just been muted.

2. DON’T CHOOSE SOMETHING FROM A MOVIE or TV SHOW

Why? Because chances are the auditors have seen that movie or TV show too. So they’ve got a really clear picture of how that famous actor who won that award for the role did it. And you don’t want to compete with THAT.

Also, movies & TV are a much more visual medium, so there’s less chance you’ll even FIND a 60-90 second monologue. Don’t make it harder on yourself!


The best monologues are pieces the auditors haven’t heard. Then YOU get to be the first one to share it with them and you’re not being judged against anyone else’s performance.


3. START READING SCRIPTS

There are actually a lot of resources available to help connect you to scripts:

  • The Library – An oldie but a goodie. Most of these scripts will be a little older, but it’s possible to come across some lesser known works as well as some newer plays.

  • New Play Exchange – This online resource costs a small fee to join but - IT’S WORTH IT. New plays are being uploaded all the time, and you can search the database by age, race, gender, genre, and more. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

  • Publishing Companies – Check out the websites for companies like Samuel French, Dramatists Play Service, & Playscripts, and read synopses of plays they offer to find something that sparks your interest. Then, purchase the script (or hunt it down in the library).

  • New Play Festivals – Got time? Take a field trip to see some new plays—if you like a script, reach out and see if you can use it for a monologue. Got a computer? At minimum, got to the websites for festivals like Humana Festival and Contemporary American Theatre Festival. Check out their annual anthologies of newly produced work.

4. THE BAD NEWS

Nobody likes finding monologues (well, almost nobody). Because it’s work. But it is the best way the industry has found to assess new talent. So, for now, this is a necessary evil.

5. THE GOOD NEWS

YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.


(Psst--And if you decide that you can’t, there are also folks that you can hire to do this for you. Actors Training Center can connect you to people who do this professionally.)


Finding good monologues is a muscle like any other. And that muscle will get stronger the more time you spend pulling your own material. And if you or your young actor are in this for the long haul, it pays to start building this muscle early.


Auditions will never be totally stress-free, but with a monologue you love, they can be a little bit more fun.


-ATC Studio Director, Becky Blomgren


Based on your interest in this article, we recommend the following classes:

NO AGENT, NO PROBLEM - With self-tapes becoming more & more commonplace & casting notices being just a Google search away, there is no reason for an actor not to be auditioning. The ATC staff will teach you how to navigate audition sites & how to tape & edit a studio-quality audition from home. For 9th Graders - Adults.

Get registered HERE.


ACTORS BOOT CAMP - Learn the imperative & challenging art of working honestly & fearlessly in all mediums of acting! This boot camp prepares our young actors for the next step - through monologue, improv, on-camera, scene study, & more! For 6th-8th Graders. Register HERE.


PROFESSIONAL SUMMER INTENSIVE - Get inside the business with a curriculum that pushes you to an industry level of professionalism: study monologue, accents & dialects, on camera, & more. Conclude the program with an audition-ready monologue, headshot, & a showcase for family, friends, & invited Chicago professionals. For 9th-12th Graders. By audition only. Schedule your audition HERE.

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