Theatre Information

Choosing Your Audition Monologue

By • Sep 7th, 2011 • Category: An Actor's Advice

The nature of an audition depends on the director and the company for which you are auditioning. Most often they will consist of cold readings from the script. If so, try to get a copy of the script before hand, so that none of your readings are in fact cold at all.

However in many cases you will be asked to perform a prepared piece. Usually it will be specified if it is to be a modern piece, a classical piece, dramatic or comedic, etc. Whatever the perimeters are for a prepared piece, you have a lot to think about once you get down to deciding which piece to go with.

The answer is to go with what is most inside of you. To be less poetic, go with a speech with which you are most comfortable.

This means that your goal should not be to shock the director, or to move him, or to make him laugh. They have likely seen whatever speech you are giving before, and even if they have not, they are not usually in a frame of mind conducive to their emotions being played upon by your try-out. That isn’t to say once in a while they might not laugh or might not feel stirred by something you do, but by and large they are there to determine two things. The first is the nature of your acting talent, and the second is if that talent can be used in their current production. Ergo your goal in an audition is to present to the director in an efficient manner proof of what you are capable as a performer.

This can be done by finding and learning a new speech for an audition. People do it all the time. Yet when something is put into our mind for a specific purpose on a specific day we are less likely to absorb it for its own right, and we lose something, no matter how much we work on it. In the unlikely event that you will have months to prepare for an audition you might be able to get away with seeking out something new, letting it sink into your consciousness, and present it on the big day. but in most cases it is ideal for you to already have a speech or two at the ready, something that means something to you and something you practice on a regular basis, whether or not you are auditioning. This will make it automatic by audition day, as well as planted deeper into your psyche. Both will help you be more comfortable, and hence more confident when you present the piece, and comfort with confidence is the best way to assure that you best acting self is being presented in the two minutes you are given.

Nor should you assume that a speech on a specific edgy subject is required to put your best acting forward. You may indeed be called upon to give such speeches in a play if you get a part, and that is fine. But too many times I have been waiting for my turn to audition with a speech that holds something personal for me, while I listen to actor after actor enter the room, and deliver yelling, screaming, heart wrenching monologues on trying subjects. To some that is hitting a bull’s eye. To me, and to any director worth their salt, it is just shoehorning an entire production of the ego into the space of an audition. It works with some people, but it is bad practice. Don’t do it.

Unless of course those speeches really are the speeches with which you have become intimate over time. Speeches that hold great personal significance to you, or ones you have been giving for years. And for all I know, much of that wailing and gnashing of teeth I have witnessed did come from a place of personal familiarity on the part of at least some of those actors. But the frequency with which such tactics are employed makes me believe most people decide that a monologue at high volume about AIDS, coming out of the closet, or other such things is the only way to make the right impression. It isn’t.

Actors must be willing to stretch their boundaries, become a little uncomfortable, and go places they have never been before…while performing. But the audition is about confidence, familiarity and a bit of salesmanship. You don’t have to prove all of your talent in those two minutes. You just have to offer a simple, appropriate sneak peak at what sort of things you could do, if cast. Save the big, earth shifting moments of acting either for when they are specifically requested at an audition, or for after you already get the part.

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is a Maryland native and has been acting for nine years, having studied it at Marietta College in Ohio. He has been schooled in Shakespeare, improvisation, public speaking and voice articulation throughout his career. His credits to date include over 30 plays and readings as well as 2 films. You can also read his blogs (for theatre related thoughts) and (for thoughts on personal success from an outcast). Follow him on Twitter @TyUnglebower.