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Acting School Monthly -- Choosing the Right Audition Monologue
September 15, 2010

Acting School Monthly Newsletter - Issue #020 - September 15th, 2010

Choosing the Right Audition Monologue


Here's the news from Acting School Stop, your one stop on the road to an acting career!

In this issue... We're looking at auditioning with monologues. Read an article by a classical theater director about the 7 most common mistakes actors make when choosing an audition monologue and watch a quick video to help you avoid another common mistake actors make when they perform monologues… gesturing.

1) Article of the Month - Choosing an Audition Monologue

Choosing a Monologue For a Stage Audition - 7 Most Common Mistakes

Choosing a Monologue For a Stage Audition - 7 Most Common Mistakes
By Gary J. Dooley Ph.D.

Most theatre auditions still require actors to prepare monologues. The choice of monologue can be crucial in landing you that great role, but many actors still make fundamental mistakes when choosing their monologues.

Always remember that auditions are your opportunity to demonstrate that you are the right actor with the right skills; generally, you only have a few minutes to prove this to an audition panel. You need to choose your monologue carefully in order to showcase your skills and maximise your chances of landing that role.

Having sat through hundreds of hours of auditions, the most common errors made by auditionees in choosing their monologues are:

1. Length -- Unlike other walks of life, with monologues longer isn't always better - in fact, the opposite is usually true. It is much better to have a short and perfectly polished monologue than a longer and potentially boring piece. You should leave your audience wanting more, not wishing there had been less. Always stick to the length specified in the audition guidelines. If a range is specified, aim for the shorter end of the range.

2. Wrong genre -- Generally speaking, if you're auditioning for a comedy, you should choose a comic monologue and a dramatic monologue if you are auditioning for a more serious piece. But it's more subtle than just comedy/tragedy: within this division there are a whole variety of styles. There are large differences in the acting styles required to play classical Greek comedy, Restoration comedy, Victorian drawing-room comedy, absurdist comedy and modern realist comedy. Try to choose a monologue that is similar in style to the piece for which you are auditioning. You might do a brilliant Oedipus, but it's unlikely to convince people that you should be cast in a Pinter play.

3. Inappropriate performance size for the space -- Different sizes of performance space require different types of performance. Don't choose a monologue that is intimate and small if you are auditioning in a large theatre space. Conversely, don't choose a piece of big public oratory if you are auditioning in a tiny theatre. Your performance will only look right if it is tailored to the performance space.

4. Choosing from the audition play -- Unless you specifically asked to do so, you should never use an audition piece that comes from the play for which you are auditioning.

5. Pieces that aren't monologues -- Your piece should be self-contained and should be a true monologue. Never choose something that requires another actor in the scene, and never ever ask someone from an audition panel to participate in your scene. Also be careful about choosing pieces which require too much background information or scene setting.

6. Too common -- Never choose pieces that are too well known, people on the audition panel will have heard these over and over. It is difficult to engage your audience if they are overly familiar with the material. If you make a mistake with the words, it also makes it more likely that it will be noticed.

7. No shape or range -- A monologue, however short, should have a natural shape with a beginning, a middle and an end. If possible, your chosen piece should demonstrate a range of different emotions or feelings. A monologue that begins on one pitch and continues in that vein will soon become monotonous and boring to your audience. This is why many speeches that are perfectly fine within the context of a play, do not necessarily make good monologues. The more variation in range, the more it will allow you to demonstrate your abilities and the more interesting it will be to watch.

Finally, bear in mind that you are an artist and, like any other artist, you should have a portfolio to demonstrate your abilities. Auditions often come up at very short notice and you will not always have a lengthy time to prepare a new piece. You should always have a selection of monologues prepared to demonstrate a range of different acting styles, pieces which can be polished up and presented at short notice.


Gary is an academic, author and consultant who has worked extensively in the UK, Australia and United States. His latest publication, 'Monologue 1M: Great Classical Monologues for Young Male Actors' is now available from iPSO FACTO publications:

Article Source:

2) What's new on

Avoiding Meaningless hand gestures in monologues
Actors who find it hard to control their hand gestures while performing audition monologues will find this short video on the subject helpful.

Acting Tips for When You're Just getting Started
Is it possible to make it without experience? Do agents ever sign actors who are starting out? You can read the answers to this question and more in this post.

Acting with a British Accent in the States
If you have an accent and want to act in the US, read this answer to a question by a British actor.

3) A word of inspiration

Here's a good quote from a great actor to remember when working on your audition monologues…

"The talent is in the choices." – Robert De Niro

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Good luck with your acting career!

Alex Swenson

Acting School

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