Cleaning the toilets at Grand Central Station is hard. Baking a soufflé while standing on hot coals is hard. Watching your mom take her final breath is hard. A lot of things are hard. Finding the right monologue doesn’t have to be one of them.
I’m gonna help you out. Because I like you and I want you to succeed (unless you’re that guy who took a bite out of my muffin on the subway last week – then you’re on your own).
8 Ways to Find Your Monologue*:
1. Check out similar types – Let’s say you’re perfect for Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Google who has played her in various regional productions in the past few years. Write those actor's names down and google each one, seeing what else they've played in the past. Look at the characters in those plays.
2. Say there’s a theatre that does really great new work that you love, like Playwright's Horizons in NYC. Look at their past ten seasons. Look at each play. Does it look like there would have been a role for you? Who played it? You know what to do!
4. See Plays!
- Join the email lists of some professional theaters who do new works to find out about in-person and online productions.
5. Research plays and writers that have won or been nominated for Tony’s, Obie’s, Helen Hayes, etc. awards. Each regional market has its own awards show and archives of who has won or been nominated each year.
6. Research writers who are currently in or have come out of prestigious fellowships and training programs like The McDowell Colony, New Dramatists, Actor’s Theatre of Louisville, Columbia (woot!), Juilliard, Yale, Brown, etc. Up and coming writers are awesome and won’t be overdone. Check out New Play Exchange.
7. Look at the Kilroys List. Another great way to discover new writers.
8. Your Local / School Library – comb the aisles and open random plays you know nothing about. Skim for speeches.
*What if I find a play that I'm interested in, but I don't have the money to buy a play and hope it has a good monologue for me?
- Ask your Librarian or Media Specialist if they can order the item for you or if the library has subscriptions to any databases that have online versions. There's no harm in asking! You may also be able to borrow from another library through ILL (Interlibrary Loan)
- Check out Scribd
At the end of the day, if you find something that’s super common but you connect to it and you love the crap out of it, do it! Just remember to always take care of the character, get them what they want and always play for truth, never for laughs.
Also know that you don’t have to do a comedic monologue. Contrasting does not have to mean comedic and dramatic. It can mean an angel and a devil. Mature and young. There are so many options to show your personality.
The first year I wanted to show range. The second year I wanted to show me (and I’ll talk in a later post about how, thanks to the legend that is Ron Van Lieu, I ended up with those perfect pieces). The third year I felt they’d seen me, so I thought I needed to show a different side of me and I tried too hard to be unique. The fourth year, I was just me. And I got in.
Various Other Excuses:
· I just don’t have time to rehearse, find the right coach, read plays, see plays, pursue a career as a professional actor. See what I did there?
· Nobody will help me. Gee, thanks. Guess I’ll just delete this blog.
· I don’t understand Shakespeare. I get it, I have to work at it too. But there are resources. Oh! Maybe I’ll write a Shakespeare basics workshop on here! In the meantime, check out The Shakespeare Forum and Side by Side Shakespeare.
· All of the comedic Shakespeare monologues are overdone. See above article.
· I don’t have the money for a coach, applications and auditions. True. Story. The best coaches run average $75-$200 in NYC. Applications are $20-$110, depending on the school. Auditions sometimes cost money too (yeah, I’m looking at you, UCSD). It’s daunting. That’s why you have to plan ahead. Cook at home for a couple of months, steal shampoo from the gym and get yourself an Amex. They have great customer service and will listen to you bitch about things in general. Another solution is to check out my Coaching and Lessons page here or on brigittetb.com/coaching and Contact Me about my super reasonable coaching rates and sliding scale for underserved communities.