The “Perfect” Monologue
By: Amelia Morse Kolkmeyer, MFA - Founder and Lead Instructor/Coach
Disclosure - These are my own ideas and things I have learned and taught others. These are tips and not a guarantee that they’ll work for everyone.
How does one find the “perfect” monologue? The answer is to know what you’re looking for, not where to look for it.
You can spend countless hours searching the internet, going through the library, reading every play you can get your hands on, but what will help you save time and frustration is knowing what to be looking out for. It’s called ‘knowing your type.’
So how does one determine their type? This is something I personally struggled with for years, with very little guidance or help. It wasn’t until I was in graduate school and teaching acting to Non-Theatre majors that I really got it. That was because I took on the responsibility of helping my students find good, quality monologues that fit them as people and as actors. I wanted things that challenged them too.
How do you determine your ‘type?’
There are the basic things to consider - your age/age range, gender, and race.
Look at characters that speak to you personally. Do you share the same opinions, personality quirks, values, etc. People often want a character that is the total opposite of them, but by choosing a character that is similar to you allows you the opportunity to show yourself and be vulnerable through the character.
What’s happening in this piece?
Does this character have a clear objective or are they telling a story? Even a monologue where the character tells a story can have an underscore objective.
Who are they speaking to? What’s their relationship with that person? What do they want from them?
Is there a clear beginning, middle, and end?
Why should you avoid overdone monologues and monologues from film/television?
The people on the other side may check out, check you off, or find you boring if you do a piece that’s clearly overdone. You can find out what’s being overdone by doing a quick internet search. *Make note- overdone doesn't have an expiration date. Even if it’s been 10 years or more, don’t do it.
You are telling us you didn’t look hard enough to find something different. I know the overdone pieces are the best, the juiciest, and have the most bite to them. Keep in mind there are plenty of other pieces out there. If you really want to stick out, then do something they haven’t heard before or very little of.
Monologues that come from film and television are great for that industry, but not theatre. You heard it and seen it, and we have heard it and seen it. Even if you think you can do it differently, we’re still going to see and hear the original actor and forget about you.
Avoid overdone monologues and pieces from film/television because you are self-sabotaging yourself!
Some other ways and ideas to help you pick your ‘perfect’ monologue are these -
Get a mentor or Acting Coach, take an acting class, click here to join a group of performers that collaborate on monologues and audition pieces.
We offer these things here at The Morse Actors Studio. Click here to see everything we do.
I hope you found these tips helpful today. Remember, we’re always happy to help you if you’re struggling to find audition material and/or are wanting to learn more to really nail down your type to truly find the perfect monologue.
You can contact us here to get started today!