Although not often required for musical theatre shows, monologues are often required for straight plays. So it’s good to be prepared. Choosing a monologue can be as difficult as choosing an audition song, and is usually a much more intense acting effort. The right monologue can show off a vast acting range in a short period of time, but the wrong monologue can be a horrible experience, and even insulting if handled badly. Where should you look for monologues and what types should you choose?
Consider the show
Is the show a fast door-slamming comedy? A tragedy? A period piece? Try to think of sources for monologues in the same style, as usually the director doesn’t want to hear anything from the show you’re auditioning for until callbacks. If you’re not sure of other plays in the same style, ask an acting friend, or join one of the many acting mailing lists on Yahoo and Google, and folks will be happy to help you.
Where to find monologues (the expensive way)
Major bookstores have a “drama” section, and you’ll find collections of monologue books there. They are usually broken down by gender, style, or age range, such as “50 Monologues for Young Women.” Pick it up and read through them — most will be about 1 minute long. Consider the character in each monologue — is that character one you feel you could understand well enough to accurately portray at an audition? Please keep things like race and gender in mind — if you’re Caucasian and you audition as an African-American character, you’re likely to offend someone, so don’t do it.
You can also search for monologue books at online stores such as Amazon.com, and find an even greater selection than your local bookstore.
Where to find monologues (the inexpensive/free way!)
Libraries are an excellent source of monologues. Go to the drama section of your local library, and look for monologue books, or plays by the same author that might have monologues. Check your library to see if it as a loan agreement with other libraries in a network — you can often have uncommon books sent to your home library on loan from another library for by just putting in the request and waiting for a couple of days.
Used bookstores have old and wonderful resources. Search out your local independent/used bookstore, and ask the owner to suggest some books for you. You’ll find old monologue treasures that are waiting to be read, you’ll get the help of an expert for free, and you’ll be helping to support local businesses. Plus, many an idle and enjoyable hour can be spent in your local bookstore. Give it a try.
Look online. Several websites offer monologues online for free. A Google or Bing search for “free monologues” should reveal some options.
As a final note, unless you are taking a class in writing monologues where you can actually workshop your ideas and get feedback, it’s probably best to avoid trying to write monologue from scratch. It is safer for your audition to use an existing work that is connected in some way or style to the show you’re auditioning for. You’ll have the added benefit of being able to spend your limited time making the piece better, instead of trying to write something from scratch.
Find a couple of monologues and play around with them. Read them in front of a friend or loved one, and see if that person thinks the monologue fits you. That perspective can save you a lot of time and allow you to focus on a monologue that is a good fit for you.