Shakespeare wrote 37 plays - that is A LOT OF PLAYS TO PICK FROM (some say 38, but you get the gist). When faced with the task of finding classical monologues for your auditions - there's that number, taunting us with its magnitude and seemingly drowning us in the feeling that we will never be able to find something that isn't "To Be or Not To Be."
No shade, Hamlet. (Like I said in my "Picking the Monologue" blog - no such thing as an overdone piece.)
To help you narrow your search, I will be sharing a list of 7 monologues that I have LOVED using for my own auditions, and that I highly recommend exploring as options for your classical monologues in your drama school auditions.
THINGS TO REMEMBER:
These are pieces from classically female characters. But, thank goodness gender is a construct and it's 2021. No matter your gender identity, I think these pieces are bomb and if you resonate with them, by all means go forth and conquer them.
SHAKESPEARE IS NOT THE ONLY CLASSICAL WRITER. When schools say CLASSICAL they mean: something before the 1900's, and something with heightened language/in verse. If it looks all poetic and fancy - chances are it is in heightened language. Some other places to look for classical texts that are not Shakespeare are the ancient Greek plays or Shakespeare's contemporaries like Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Kyd. Moliere is a fun one too!
If you find a monologue on this list or anywhere else that tickles your fancy, I recommend reading the play from which that monologue comes. If your reaction to that is *yawn*, that is so ok. Start off by reading the scene with THAT monologue. Then try reading the scene right before and right after the one your monologue is in. Work your way through it to start picking up the plot, where your character fits in, and why your character would be saying that monologue in that way at that exact moment.
With that now out of the way, here are 7 pieces I have used, adored, and wish to now share with you!
1. Desdemona, Othello Act IV Scene ii - "Oh God, Iago, what shall I do to win my lord again?"
Tip: Some texts will say "Oh God, Iago" while some will say "Oh good Iago." Cool thing about Shakespeare is that variations in text happened A LOT. So it is truly up to you and what gets you going.
2. Hermione, The Winter's Tale Act III Scene ii - "Sir, spare your threats."
Tip: The LOVE OF HERMIONE's LIFE thinks she cheated on him and has has just basically given away her very recently born baby. She is a queen - she knows she is in the right and she knows she is speaking the truth. Everything she says is to try and get the love of her life to believe her.
3. Julia, Two Gentlemen of Verona Act IV Scene iv - "How many women would do such a message?"
Tip: This is a true soliloquy - this means Julia is on stage alone speaking this text. Really let yourself think each thought in the moment, working it out as you go along. Decide who you are talking to - the audience? Imaginary best friend?
4. Rosalind, As You Like It Act III Scene ii - "He was to imagine me his love, his mistress."
Tip: This is the only piece on this list that will be in PROSE and not verse. This means there is no rhythm scheme to it and it is written to be spoken in a more casual and "normal" manner. If the school SPECIFICALLY SAYS they do not need a classical piece in verse, feel free to use this one!
5. Portia, Julius Caeser Act II Scene i - "Is Brutus sick?"
Tip: Do not be dissuaded by this being an "overused piece." There is a reason it is overused - it's really good. I was in an audition room where I knew at least two other people were doing this piece. I had to remind myself that I am not them and they are certainly not me. 100 people can do this and each one will be 100 percent different. Give them the gift of you.
6. Helena, All's Well that Ends Well Act I Scene iii - "Then I confess..."
Tip: Helena is a maid, speaking boldly and honestly to the Duchess, who has been as a mother to her. What does this huge gap in status do to Helena? How brave, or perhaps how desperate, is Helena to confess this? Why now? In your mind, keep an imaginary eye on the Duchess - how does she respond to each line you say?
7. Viola, Twelfth Night Act II Scene ii - "I left no ring with her"
Tip: Ok, so this is maybe one of the more famous Shakespeare soliloquies. DO NOT BE SCARED. My advice? Really let yourself ask the audience each question in the piece. This is a fast paced piece where Viola is thinking a mile a minute. Find the places in the monologue where Viola is going down a rabbit hole of one thought and then suddenly shifts gears to the next.