You have reached Part 5 of Working On Your Monologue: Movement. We will touch on using props, the size of the room and keeping motion subtle.
By this point you have found your monologue, you have gone over your given circumstances, broke the material down, gotten off book and are ready for the next segment of this monologue education series.
Working On Your Monologue: Movement
The next phase that you could very well venture into is that of the movement of your monologue.
Depending on the audition situation (what the casting director asks of you, the size of the room) you will want to show a physical life of your character through movement.
Remaining stationary, either by standing or sitting can come off lifeless and static.
There are times when it will be important to remain in one position for a monologue, depending on the imaginary circumstances of your character but more often than not, it will be a wise decision to have your monologue choreographed.
Choreographing Your Monologue
The more common term is ‘blocking’. The actor must undergo a series of blocking rehearsals with the cast and director or a quick rundown of how things move if its for a scene in a film being shot.
Choreography is a nice word because it feels like movement rather than an obstruction. The definition of the word choreography is a sequence of steps and movements.
Directors also use the term staging, which works as well. To each his/her own.
It will be entirely up to you and your best judgement to piece together the movement of your monologue.
Trust your impulses. When you work through your monologue, pay attention to when you move. Act on such movements and begin to piece together what works.
Always try to work from your intuition when it comes to monologue movement. If you feel the need to stand each time you reach a line in your monologue, then trust that impulse and stand. See where it takes you.
Working out the choreography of your monologue by trusting your impulses will lead to a more organic process of realizing the material.
If you sit back and simply analyze only and mark exactly what you do from scratching your head to smiling, that will lead to mechanical acting.
There is thought to the impulsive process but there must be a balance between instinct and the creative choices you make based on those instincts.
You will know when it feels right and when it feels off when you listen to your gut.
If your character at the start of your monologue makes an entrance, you do not need to literally go out into the hallway and enter the room to start your monologue.
What you will need to do is simply go off to one side of the room and enter. You can also turn your back or use your profile and turn to enter the monologue.
You don’t want to waste anyone’s time and you want to be ready to go at the drop of a hat. Make your entrance with a slight change of your body or by taking a few steps into the scene when speaking your first bits of dialogue.
Keep It Simple
The first thing you will want to keep in mind is to not do too much. Yes, it’s a good idea to have monologue movement, but you don’t want to create too much movement where you become a distraction, rather than the main attraction.
Keeping it simple can be as subtle as walking up to an imaginary window and saying a line, before coming back and sitting down.
It can be as simply as starting your monologue sitting and then standing midway through, only to go back to sitting down again at its end.
Subtle movement when auditioning has more impact.
Oftentimes, creating subtle movement will go a long way for your monologue and help to keep the casting director involved.
Size of the Room
Whether you are performing your monologue for a play or a film, keep things subtle and in relation to the size of the room.
If you happen to audition in a room that can barely fit a table and chair, you will have to be ready to make physical adjustments to your monologue on the spot.
Be ready for such adjustments.
Actors need to be flexible and should already be prepared for tiny or large sized performance rooms. Have such situations already worked out for yourself in rehearsal prior, this way you are good to go for such last minute tweaks.
A Casting Director, Filmmaker, Producer, Agent may give you directions even before you say your first line. They may also give you direction after you perform your monologue with the intention of you doing it a second time.
It’s very important that you are always making yourself open and available to any suggestions given to you in the audition room.
Actors need to be good listeners and receptive to what is suggested. This will show that you are a solid collaborator.
There are time when outright ridiculous suggestions are given and that’s okay. Commit to the doing of the direction given because sometimes a casting professional simply wants to see how well you take direction.
An actor cannot be afraid to change things at a second’s notice. Go for it and see what happens.
Man Called John Monologue
Let’s look at a monologue entitled, ‘Man Called John‘ .
The character John begins his monologue by talking about a fly landing in his model toy kitchen.
A subtle movement could be that the actor begins the piece standing. The actor can also begin the monologue sitting but leaning forward at the edge of his seat. Both options are fine. The actor may begin standing and then cross over to his seat to share the rest of his tale.
Such slight movements is all an actor needs to deliver the truth of the monologue. Less can certainly be more.
Props & Physical Activity
Does your character walk with a cane? Carry and use a handkerchief? Is she invested in taking a knot out of her sneaker?
What physical aspects exist during your monologue that will heighten their truth?
Props and physical activities can be power elements for the world of the character you create.
Be careful you don’t make the prop/physical activity the main attraction of your monologue.
A prop is designed to heighten and enhance the life force invented from the actor based on the imaginary circumstances of the monologue, not to hinder and distract the spectator or the actor from the truth.
Aim Your Performance
Who are you indirectly ‘aiming’ your monologue at?
You can’t be in an audition room giving your performance to a wall with your back to the casting director or camera.
You need to be clear that however the room you are performing in is structured, that you will be sure you are able to be seen entirely. Always angle and position yourself towards the camera and casting professional so that they may see you appropriately.
There is no sense entering the room and acting in front of anyone if no one can totally see you.
It sounds like common sense but there are many great performances at auditions given where all that was captured was the actor’s profile, rather the the full embodiment of what they wished to deliver.
Don’t let that be you.
Keep the movements alive but subtle when performing your monologue at an audition. This concludes our 5 Part Series of Working On Your Monologue.
Using a prop or having physical activities can enhance your monologue, so long as it doesn’t take away from the truth of the piece.
Know where you are aiming your performance. Don’t get lost in a corner. Give the casting professional or camera what you came to give and make sure you are completely seen.