Good Shakespeare Monologues
for Men and Women
Below is a list of favorite Shakespeare monologues that make good audition monologues
for classical roles and acting schools.
When you're done browsing through these classical monologues,
scroll down to the bottom of the page for acting tips on Shakespeare auditions.
Click here to share your favorite classical monologues!
When a director asks for a classical monologue,
they usually mean a Shakespeare monologue.
If in doubt, ask, but most directors want to know you can act your
way through poetic writing, preferably Shakespearean.
1) Good Shakespeare Monologues for Women
DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES FOR WOMEN
(Part 1, Act II, Scene 3)
Lady Percy suspects
that the young hotheaded husband she loves is gearing for war.
In this scene, she pleads with him to share what is weighing on his mind.
This dramatic monologue
for women gives classical actresses an opportunity to show both strength
and vulnerability, an important aspect of Shakespearean female characters.
It also has fantastic language and delivers a whole palette of emotions ranging
from love and fear to anger and despair. It is not overdone like so many
other dramatic Shakespeare monologues and the circumstances are not
so dramatic that you'll feel pressured to cry onstage.
(Part 1, Act I, Scene 3)
Joan La Pucelle tells
the Dauphin of France about her vision and challenges him to accept her help.
see the same material over and over. If you're not auditioning for Lady Macbeth
or Ophelia, this lesser known Shakespeare monologue will be a nice change.
COMEDIC MONOLOGUES FOR WOMEN
(Act I, Scene 1)
her childhood friend, escapes to the woods with the man she loves,
Helena must decide if she will tell Demetrius, her former betrothed
who is now in love with Hermia. Abandoned and jealous, Helena reasons
on the fact that love is blind.
The strong inner conflict
going on in this Shakespearan monologue will help actresses stay natural and engaged.
The ingenue roles in Shakespeare comedies don't really require funny
monologues as much as monologues like this one, where the actress
can show she can play conflict without being too dramatic.
This monologue is good for that, plus it has some potential
for comedy (e.g., Helena could imitate the "winged cupid painted blind".)
(Act I, Scene 2)
After tearing up a love
letter from Proteus in front of her waiting-woman, the quick-tempered Julia
gathers the scraps of paper and revels in Proteus' words.
This is a fun
light-hearted classical monologue where a young actress can show
a lot of charm and colors. (Note: If you use a real letter,
make sure you pick up all the pieces during your performance.
You want to make a good exit and not have the casting director
waiting while you clean up.)
2) Good Shakespeare Monologues for Men
DRAMATIC MONOLOGUES FOR MEN
(Act III, Scene 1)
rallies his troops for war, reminding them of the greatness of their ancestors.
Shakespeare's plays are full of these heroic
fighters who can make brilliant speeches, so it's a good thing to show you can play one of them.
If you're auditioning for a lead role in one of Shakespeare's historic dramas,
this bigger then life character will lend you its charisma and help you capture your audience.
(Act I, Scene 2)
and mother have just left. Alone and anguished, Hamlet wishes he could die as he
bemoans his father's death and his mother's haste to remarry.
Hamlet is simply a fascinating character
to sink your teeth into as an actor, yet this monologue that takes place early in the
play is not as popular as the famous "to be or not to be" monologue.
COMEDIC MONOLOGUES FOR MEN
(Act II, Scene 1)
Mercutio is looking for Romeo.
Thinking his friend is within earshot, he uses a series of tricks, including
making fun of Romeo, to get his attention.
This comedic monologue
allows for a lot of physicality as Mercutio tries to get his friend's attention.
Physicality is an important part of Shakespeare's comedies and this Shakespeare
monologue will show a director you can "take the stage".
(Act II, Scene 3)
Benedick, a sworn bachelor,
has just overheard a conversation that Beatrice is in love with him.
Unaware that he has been set up by his friends, he decides to change his ways
and love her in return.
This is a good choice
if you are auditioning for the male lead in a Shakespeare comedy.
This short humorous monologue in prose has many different beats where
you can showcase all your different comedic skills. Check out the
Kenneth Branagh rendition of this monologue in the 1993 filmed version
of Much Ado About Nothing.
How to Nail Shakespeare Monologues
Monologues in verse can be intimidating for some actors,
especially if you haven't studied Shakespeare in acting school.
But with Shakespeare monologues, you have a great ally,
the iambic pentameter!
The iambic pentameter is the rhythm Shakespeare wrote most of his plays in.
Let's take the last line from
from The Two Gentlemen of Verona...
"Now kiss, embrace, contend, do what you will."
An iambic pentameter is a 5 foot line of text.
Each foot has an unstressed and a stressed syllable, so it goes like this:
Ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM/ ta DUM /
Now KISS / em BRACE / con TEND / do WHAT / you WILL /
If you read your monologues using the iambic pentameter,
you will know where the natural emphasis on words is.
Shakespeare tells you what syllables to stress while acting his words.
You will start to discover a lot of hidden meanings in your Shakespearean monologues.
Think of the iambic pentameter like music with Shakespeare conducting.
You don't want to overdo the rhythm of course (except maybe as an exercise)
but let the music take you and the emotion will come naturally.
It's a wonderful thing!
For more help with your Shakespeare monologues,
see these Shakespeare Acting Lessons
and look at our listings of acting schools to find a good Shakespeare acting class.
What’s YOUR favorite Shakespeare monologues?
If you have a Shakespeare monologue you just love and want to share with other actors, tell us about it here. And don't forget to let us know why you like it! We'd love to hear about your audition successes with this monologue too!
What Other Visitors Have Said
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