Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My Favourite Monologues for Auditions


As an actor, I have a sense of what works for me in an audition and how to use my strengths to my advantage.  As a director, I also know what I look for in selecting an actor to join a production of mine.
Before listing my favourite monologues to use in auditions I want to elaborate on two things:

Use your strengths to your benefit in an audition. If you are a fast talker - don't select a monologue which is meant to be performed as slow as molasses. If you are someone who paces or rocks on their feet - don't select a monologue which forces you to stay as still as a statue. If you have a deep voice - don't select a monologue meant to be read by a young boy who hasn't reached puberty yet. In a nutshell - select monologues that will work WITH your strengths rather than against them.

Select a monologue that is APPROPRIATE for the play and role you are auditioning for. If you are auditioning for a classic piece like "the Crucible" or "the Diary of Anne Frank" - don't select a monologue that Jim Carrey used in "the Mask". If you are auditioning for a contemporary comedy like "the Love List" or "Lend Me a Tenor" - do NOT select a monologue written by Shakespeare. If you are auditioning for the role of a sweet-princess type - don't select a monologue of a character telling a story about murdering their children. In a nutshell - choose a monologue that can be connected in SOME WAY to BOTH the play and role you are auditioning for.

Now that those are out of the way - here are my favourite monologues to use as audition pieces and my reasons for my love of them:

#1.the Iron Giant [movie] Hogarth: 
(wired on caffeine, talking very quickly) "So she moved me up a grade 'cause I wasn't fitting in, so now I'm even more not fitting in. I was getting good grades, you know, like all A's. So my mom says, "You need stimulation." I said, "No, I don't. I'm stimulated enough right now." So she says, "Uh-uh. You don't have a challenge. You need a challenge." So now I'm challenged, all right- I'm challenged to hold on to my lunch money because of all the big mooses who wanna pound me, 'cause they think I'm a shrimpy dork who thinks he's smarter than them! But I don't think I'm smarter, I just do the stupid homework! If everyone else JUST DID THE STUPID HOMEWORK, they could move up a grade and get pounded, too! Is there any more coffee?"
I love this monologue because it is fast-paced and is great for auditions requiring a show of facial expression and voice control. This is also a great audition for people who need to move around as this character paces while delivering his speech.

#2. Contact [movie]  Ellie: 
"I cannot simply withdraw my testimony and concede that this journey to the center of the galaxy, in fact, never took place.  Because I can't. I had an experience I can't prove, I can't even explain it, but everything that I know as a human being, everything that I am tells me that it was real. I was part of something wonderful, something that changed me forever; a vision of the Universe that tells us undeniably how tiny, and insignificant, and how rare and precious we all are. A vision that tells us we belong to something that is greater than ourselves. That we are not, that none of us are alone. I wish I could share that. I wish that everyone, if even for one moment, could feel that awe, and humility, and the hope, but... that continues to be my wish."
This is a great monologue for anyone needing to show loss, sadness, desperation and/or vulnerability. This monologue has many words and statements which can be visualized by the actor to create deep feeling and emotion in their voice.

#3. Blood Diamond [movie] Maddy:
"Do you think I’m exploiting his grief? You’re right, it's sh*t. It's like one of those informercials. Y'know, little black babies with swollen bellies with flies in their eyes. It's right here. I've got dead mothers. I've got severed limbs, but it's nothing new. And it might be enough to make some people cry if they read it. Maybe even write a check. But it's not gonna to be enough to make it stop. I am sick of writing about victims but it's all I can f*cking do because I need facts. I need names. I need dates. I need pictures. I need bank accounts. People back home wouldn't buy a ring if they knew it cost someone else their hand. I can't write that story until I get facts that can be verified. Which is to say until I find someone who will go on record. So if that is not you and you're not really gonna help and we’re not really gonna screw, then why don’t you get the f*ck out of my face and let me do my work?"
This monologue affects me personally on a deep, emotional level. This monologue is a prime example of showing desperation AND control. This is a woman who knows what she wants and what she needs. She is a woman willing to do whatever she must in order to get the job done.

#4. Addams Family [movie] Debbie:
"I don't want to hurt anybody. I don't enjoy hurting anybody. I don't like guns or bombs or electric chairs, but sometimes people just won't listen and so I have to use persuasion, and slides. My parents, Sharon and Dave. Generous, doting, or were they? All I ever wanted was a Ballerina Barbie in her pretty pink tutu. My birthday, I was 10 and do you know what they got me? Malibu Barbie. That's not what I wanted, that's not who I was. I was a ballerina. Graceful. Delicate. They had to go. My first husband, the heart surgeon. All day long, coronaries, transplants. "Sorry about dinner, Deb, the Pope has a cold." Husband number 2: the Senator. He loved his state. He loved his country. Sorry Debbie. No Mercedes this year. We have to set an example." Oh yeah. Set this! My latest husband. My late, late husband Fester, and his adorable family. You took me in. You accepted me. But did any of you love me? I mean, really love me? So I killed. So I maimed. So I destroyed one innocent life after another. Aren't I a human being? Don't I yearn and ache...and shop? Don't I deserve love...and jewellery? Good-bye everybody. Wish me luck."
This monologue is perfect for showing a character who has gone over the deep end and crossed the line where sanity and CRAZY meet. This woman feels hurt and taken advantage of (though clearly the problem lies with her and not the rest of the world). This character is cuckoo for cocoa puffs and I love it!

#5. Titus Andronicus [play & movie] Tamora:
(Tamora is caught having an affair and convinces her sons she has done nothing wrong)

"Have I not reason, think you, to look pale?
These two have ticed me hither to this place,
A barren detested vale you see it is;
The trees, though summer, yet forlorn and lean,
Overcome with moss and baleful mistletoe.
Here never shines the sun; here nothing breeds,
Unless the nightly owl or fatal raven:
And when they showed me this abhorrèd pit,
They told me, here, at dead time of the night,
A thousand fiends, a thousand hissing snakes,
Ten thousand swelling toads, as many urchins,
Would make such fearful and confusèd cries
As any mortal body hearing it
Should straight fall mad, or else die suddenly.
No sooner had they told this hellish tale
But straight they told me they would bind me here
Unto the body of a dismal yew
And leave me to this miserable death.
And then they called me foul adulteress,
Lascivious Goth, and all the bitterest terms
That ever ear did hear to such effect;
And had you not by wondrous fortune come,
This vengeance on me had they executed.
Revenge it, as you love your mother's life,
Or be ye not henceforth called my children."
 This is by far my favourite of Shakespeare's plays. This monologue is great for expressing deception, control, power and persuasiveness. Tamora uses the loyalty of her sons to her benefit by making herself to appear innocent and the truly innocent to be the ones who have done wrong.

There are so many great monologues out there and these are only five.  Keep reading, looking and researching and keep watching plays.

The most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a monologue for an audition is to choose a piece that speaks to you - if you don't like it or YOU find it boring, how on earth will you make it exciting for the director watching you perform it?

Break a Leg!