I did a blog post a few years ago on Overdone College Audition Monologues (check it out here). This year, instead of telling you specific pieces to avoid, I’d like to walk you through what makes up a quality college audition monologue. What topics and genres are favorable and what content might not be appropriate. Specifically, we’ll examine Contemporary Monologues.
First things first, here are the qualities that I look for when selecting pieces for our students:
1. Present Tense. Monologues must be in the present tense. Story-telling monologues or monologues that solely talk about past events are dull and hard for an auditor to connect to. I want to feel like I am a fly on the wall witnessing a conversation between two people.
2. Scene Partner. In your monologue, make sure you are talking to one specific person (or sometimes a group of people). Talking to “yourself” or the “audience” simply does not work in a college audition setting. You should have a clear, defined person that you are speaking with.
3. Super Objective. A Super Objective is something that you ultimately want from the person you are talking to by the end of the monologue. Your character should want something and this desire drives the entire piece. If there is nothing that you are working toward in a monologue, why is your character talking for two minutes straight? If you can’t decipher a clear Super Objective, you may want to consider a different piece.
Here are some monologue topics to consider:
- A monologue that allows your character to specifically need something from the “other” person you are speaking to (i.e. your Scene Partner). Maybe your character is looking for forgiveness from the Scene Partner or they are seeking an apology themselves. It could be as simple as your character needs some affirmation in their choices and they are seeking guidance. You must need and want something from them or else, why are you talking for two minutes?
- One that reveals something about you (you, the actor). I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you are a transfer student at your high school (in real life!) and have had a hard go at making new friends and adjusting to a new environment. I am willing to bet you could find a piece that has the same scenario: Your character is an outcast and is looking for friendship in one of their peers. I’ve already had 4 monologues come to mind while writing this. They are out there! Don’t settle on one that is okay, find one that represents you/your life/your dreams and you connect with. You’ll be happy you did and the auditors will appreciate hearing why you picked the piece you presented.
Here are some topics to avoid:
- Anything that might make the auditor feel uncomfortable (rape, killing someone, harming animals, suicide). It alienates the auditor and makes it extremely difficult to connect with.
- Anything that is over dramatic. We don’t want to see you cry – really. If you happen to get to that place in your piece on a given day, awesome, but you certainly shouldn’t be pulling monologues based on how dramatic you think they are.
- Anything that has no real content. Your character should be changed by the end or have a revelation. Telling a story and delivering a monologue are two completely different things.
- Anything that is a “shtick”. Many students are drawn to comedic monologues that are more a comedy routine than a monologue. You shouldn’t just be telling jokes – there needs to be real content and heart in your piece.
Make sure you pull pieces from published plays. Film/Television monologues are not acceptable (unless, of course, you are auditioning for something like a BFA in Screen Acting). Feel free to piece together a monologue from a scene if you are able to – often pieced together dialogue has more of a story arch and you don’t run the risk of pulling a paragraph from a play that a million other people have as well.
Break legs and happy searching!
- Coach Chelsea
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