What are the 9 elements that will help make your monologue great? First off, there is no secret recipe for a great monologue other than hard work. =) However, I’m going to share with you 9 elements that will help steer you in the right direction with your monologue.
Feel free to use whichever tips you feel will help you with your monologue. Even if one element provides for you something of value, that is a bonus to moving you forward in your work.
1. Choosing Your Monologue
It’s a smart play to have a monologue that combines serio-comedic elements because it give you a chance to express a mixture of both comedy and drama in one monologue piece.
Oftentimes you will be asked to perform either a comedic or dramatic contemporary monologue.
By having a single piece that displays a bit of humor and seriousness, you will have the opportunity to show your range in the eyes of a casting professional.
It is also a good idea to be sure you have one comedy and one drama monologue on hand as well. You can be asked for something else and it’s always wise to be prepared with more material if asked.
2. Not Too Long
It’s industry standard to have a monologue that is in the 1-2 minute duration.
Anything more than that and you run the risk of annoying the casting director because they have other people to see. That may seem a bit frustrating but this is the nature of auditioning and you need to respect the process.
Keeping your monologue within the 1-2 minute time range, shows you as a professional actor in the casting room.
3. Monologue With A Twist
You don’t have to go too Alfred Hitchcock but it does pay to have a monologue that may catch a casting professional by surprise.
Perhaps a sudden change in the rhythm of the piece or an element of mystery that adds an interesting spin on a typical sounding monologue.
This also falls into your imagination. You may make a discovery with your monologue and go about taking on a choice that brings about an intriguing moment that you can explore.
Taking on such choices/risks can prove to accentuate your acting ability and breathe new life into common material.
4. Beginning, Middle, End
Be sure to give your monologue the proper evolution. Hit your A, B and C mark…your beginning, middle and end.
Don’t leave the casting director hanging without providing some form of finish.
Having a sense of finality in your work and ending strong can sometimes be the best part of your monologue and is something you should never overlook.
Be sure to make enough choices that give off a sense of your versatility as an actor.
You’re not expected to give a four act play or a two hour movie in 1-2 minutes. Be sure to have some touch points so you don’t come off as a flatline actor.
Break your monologue down and try different things that make sense to the totality of the piece.
6. Bad Language
It’s okay to have a curse in a monologue.
No one is going to shriek and run out of the room, but you don’t want to have every other word an expletive, either.
Be mindful of how raw a monologue is and you can always substitute a word for another one if you really connect to a piece.
Even if you are a character actor, you need to be aware of what character you are bringing into the room based on the role you are going for and based on who you are in general.
You don’t want to be going in for a 5 year old boy when you are a 28 year old man. I know you want to work but, come on! Sounds ridiculous, right? You’d be surprised!
Work within your character zone, know your type and stay grounded.
Stay away from monologues like, “I Coulda been a contender, Charlie”…really.
There are monologues that we have come to know that are part of cinema history and although you may be able to deliver a beautiful portrait of the same role, it’s best to leave it alone for an audition.
If certain character monologues from movies are part of pop culture, it is probably best to leave well enough alone. The last thing you want is to constantly be compared to the actor who originally played the screen role.
Seek out fresh material and show what you can do with it.
Don’t over do it with props.
If you are using something like a cigarette, be sure not to light it. If you have a knife, bring in a fake one or substitute it with something else such as a pen.
It may also be a good idea that if your prop happens to be a threatening kind of object, to let your casting director know so as not to frighten them and also to get their approval by asking them if your usage of the prop is okay in the room.
That sort of consideration is much appreciated.
Always use your best judgement when it comes to your characters reality.