Updated: May 23, 2021
Hello, dear chickens.
Ah, yes. Here we are. The picking of the audition monologues.
The bane of my existence. My worst nightmare. Hell on earth. Et cetera, et cetera.
I’m gonna be quick about this, because there is a lot of bull**** swirling around the ever perplexing concept of “monologues,” so I will share with you what I found to be helpful in my search for grad school audition monologues.
1. It takes time. Period.
Maybe for you, or for someone you know, it won’t. But 90 percent of the time, patience is the key ingredient. Don’t beat yourself up. One night, I spent three hours straight just staring at the computer, looking through scripts. I found one piece, a piece that I ended up using in my Juilliard audition. However, afterwards, I felt so stupid and silly that I “wasted” so much time. Nonsense. There is no one way to do this. That is apparently just what my brain needed - an uninterrupted span of focused time and effort.
2. No such thing as an overdone piece.
There is either a piece you want to do, or a piece you don’t want to do. If you are using the excuse “it’s overdone,” that might mean you just don’t want to do it. Stop wrestling with it, and move on to the next option.
3. Read pieces you are interested in OUT LOUD.
It might be fun to read on the page, but it is a whole other beast to make the words your own. This is the ultimate test.
4. Write down ALL the plays you have seen.
Yes. ALL OF THEM. Go over them one by one, thinking of the cast of characters, who wrote it, when it was written, and how the play in general made you feel. You might remind yourself of some kick ass plays and playwrights that you can now look into.
5. YOU CAN DO MONOLOGUES YOU DID IN CLASS/IN PLAYS.
For some reason, I was under the impression that this was taboo - they want to see a piece untouched by the outside world. No. You do not exist in a vacuum. If the monologue wasn’t rehearsed for a scene, it would probably be rehearsed with a coach. If there was a monologue you adored doing in a class or play, pick it up again and see if it still fits you. You might have something new to offer with the piece, or you might have outgrown it, but there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
6. Ask friends/social media for recommendations and PDF's of plays. No shame.
You might really love a piece, do it for your friend, and they go eh, doesn’t make you sparkle. No need to be swayed by them, but it is important to get a pinch of feedback. (Psst. This happened to me. I loved this piece about a washed up Jersey girl who uses West Side Story as a metaphor for her relationship with this absolute wet rag of a man. I thought it was both funny and also just fun to do. I was so excited to share this with my mom - I found my comedic contemporary! It’s done! I did it! I started reading it out loud to her. As I was going through it, I could feel the air in the room shift. It wasn’t funny - I wasn’t landing the jokes, and I could tell something was off. After I finished, my mom immediately said “it’s not you. It sounds like you are pretending to be an old Jersey lady. It doesn’t even sound like you are having fun with it.” She was right.
WARNING: This DOES NOT MEAN that you NEED to do pieces that are EXACTLY your age/gender/circumstance (please folks, you know what I mean, be smart and socially aware about this.) For example: my final comedic contemporary monologue selection, I played Marie Antoinette - I am not French nor royalty. But, personality wise, I guess could bring a lot more truth to her circumstance than I could do the Jersey girl for some reason. Honestly, the “why” is not so important. If it doesn’t resonate with you or an audience, it doesn’t matter. It won’t sing like you want it to.
7. Take breaks.
8. There are certain restrictions, right?
Classical, contemporary. Comedic, dramatic. It is good to keep these in mind. HOWEVER. Give yourself some searching time where it is NO HOLDS BARRED. Let go of those restrictions and look at these pieces with a clean lens, NO FILTERS. It is important to switch your gaze between micro and macro every now and then. Who knows? Something might have slipped through the cracks.
9. When you feel 80 percent good about a piece, let yourself BE with it for a couple hours.
What I mean is let yourself live in the world where YES. You have selected this piece. It is done. No need to keep looking. Let that go. See how it feels. Own it. If it feels good, bump that up to 100 percent because you GOT your PIECE. Lock it in, and search for the next. *REMINDER* if you come upon a piece and you are like UGH I love this but it is too similar to the piece I just locked in STAY WITH IT. See if it passes all the tests. If you REALLY love it and it brings out something within you that you are excited to share with the world, listen to that. Maybe the pieces are more different than you think and can both be used. OR perhaps you replace the old with the new. Don’t bag something you really love until you give it a fair shot. The piece deserves it and you deserve it.
At some point, you will need to just say, "This is it. This is what I am working with.” You will never find the perfect piece. But if you find something that you are excited about, something that you cannot wait to work on with a coach or by yourself, something that lets you shine, that is good enough. More than good enough.
Thanks for reading, chickens. Hope this helps.