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What Makes A Good Audition Monologue?

Charlie Sandlan - Acting Coach NYC - Acting Coach in NYCAs the Executive Director and senior acting teacher of the Maggie Flanigan Studio, my faculty and I spend a good deal of time in second year helping our students prepare for the professional world. Finding, selecting, and crafting great audition monologues is a big part of that preparation. Monologues are an important part of an actor’s professional arsenal, particularly when starting your career. For many young actors, a monologue is the only way for an interested manager, agent, casting director, director, to get a sense of what you are capable of. Eventually, as you build a resume and a reel of film and tv work, you will no longer need to audition with monologues. But they are very important early on. If you want to participate in One On One, Actors Connection, open calls, or NYC theater, you will need to have two contrasting contemporary monologues. Additionally you would want another 7-10 in your back pocket that you can use at any time when needed. That requires a great deal of work that most actors are unwilling to do.

charlie sandlan acting coach nycIt’s not easy to find a good monologue. It takes hours of watching well written film and tv, looking at plays and playwrights, searching for material you can use for an audition. Many monologues that may work well within the context of the film or play are not necessarily good audition monologues. Really good audition monologues are about one thing; they have a beginning middle and end, with a nice arc to it. Can you live through something in the piece? Are you able to start one place, discover something in the middle, and end somewhere else unexpected. In order to do that, you really need to know how to craft. You must be able to create the spontaneity of thought, create discovery, while also trying to achieve something with the other person using actions and line intentions. You must also craft a previous circumstance and an acting relationship that is personal to you. Most untrained actors will stand in a spot, looking off in some direction, and do their monologue. But that is not how life works. We do not live and talk in monologues. When we have much to say, and the other person does not interrupt us for whatever reason, that in itself turns into a monologue. But the actor must be able to create it spontaneously from unanticipated moment to unanticipated moment. This requires real craft and technique, coupled with simplicity and imagination.
Also, don’t forget to have a nice mix of material. You should have comic, dramatic, serio-comic, etc., that will allow you to show your talent in any audition. You should work on them continually, so they are fresh and vivid. Know whom you are talking to and make sure you are responding to what they are giving you. The trick is that there is no one there! You need to craft the other person’s responses so that you are responding as if someone is really with you. Not easy. If you don’t know how to do any of this, then you are not trained, or have not been trained well. Craft and technique is what will make all your work as an actor consistent, grounded in reality, and vivid.

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