Monologues - Why They Need to be in Your Actor Toolbox

Janet Foster is a casting director with years of experience in Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theater, TV, Film, & even Radio! She’s worked alongside greats such as the late Stanley Soble (Cast. Dir. for “Lean On Me”), at renowned theaters like Playwrights Horizons, & as the Casting Director/Artistic Associate at American Conservatory Theater (A.C.T.) in San Francisco. This is what she says when asked: why do you need monologues in your actor tool kit?

"Good monologue choices

help those people who haven’t seen your work in shows get to know you. Perhaps agents or managers didn’t see your showcase but have heard others speak about you? It has happened before. A selection of well-chosen monologues can get them excited about representing you! You should probably have five ready to show people, but three is the minimum.

Always start with the monologue that is closest to who you are. The second monologue should be a contrast to the first one you do. The third one can be a dialect piece, or a classical piece. Don’t do Shakespeare for LA agents or managers (most of them are not interested). If you are auditioning for an LA agent, don’t start with a dialect piece! They will think that the dialect indicates where you are from, and you will never get them to forget it.

Whether you do or don’t get representation, you need monologues for Equity Principal Auditions. These auditions are required by producing theaters on AEA contracts for every show they do. Whether it is a Broadway contract or Off-Broadway contract, they schedule auditions (you sign up for them online). Regional theaters are required to do EPAs for their seasons.

I think that every day you have auditions is a day you are going to work. Your hardest work is preparing for an audition and if you are prepared, you can enter that room with ease and confidence. You are just going to work. The joy is when you start rehearsal and become a part of a group that is creating art. That is when, if all goes well, magic can happen. We can do faux auditions, but it is how you handle the situation when the stakes are higher that matter. You will learn by doing it when people you don’t know are watching and there is something to gain.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that the best actors have ease with their craft and that allows them to play. I think that is exciting for directors to see. It doesn’t mean you go in without any preparation; quite the opposite! But actors need to be imaginative and flexible. Remember, inspiration over perfection.”

Janet Foster

A.C.T. Casting Director/Artistic Associate/Professor

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