It's easy to buy into rumors, but as a Juilliard graduate, my experience and relationships have taught me these are some of the BIGGEST rumors out there about monologues for drama school auditions.
RUMOR 1: CUT AND PASTE
What it says: "Don’t cut and paste a monologue from bits of dialogue."
FALSE! Hey, I cut and pasted my monologues. I got into Juilliard. So don’t listen to the charlatans.
The truth is, your character has to go on an emotional journey in the piece, and it has to flow. So, if the monologues is super long and/or other characters have lines of dialogue in the middle of it, no problem. It’s your piece. Cut it up how you see fit and tell a story.
Acknowledge that you are cutting up the dramatic structure and flow the playwright wrote, so you’re going to have to make sure it still feels organic and flows well, but that’s your work when you’re cutting, so trust yourself and what feels right.
Now, if you’re departing from what’s happening in the scene itself and not actually telling the story that the playwright wrote, that’s a yellow flag. That’s an indication that you’re not trusting the playwright. You’re basically telling a different story and that’s not smart. But cut and paste whatever makes sense in order to get that moment of the scene across in the time allotted. It’s YOUR piece.
RUMOR 2: LIKE AND LOVE
What it says: "It's important to like your pieces."
FALSE! It's important to Capital L-O-V-E. your. pieces!
You should cringe whenever your hear someone say "It's important to like your audition material." That screams mediocrity.
Don't go telling them that, but know that it is VITAL to be LOVING your pieces in order to get into drama school.
RUMOR 3: OLD AND NEW
What it says: "Stay away from overdone monologues and try to do pieces that haven't seen."
FALSE! There’s only one thing you need to care about when searching for and choosing your pieces. How much do you love it? That’s it.
Connecting deeply with your pieces and doing pieces your passionate about it is how you know it’s right piece to audition with.
It can definitely be the most overdone monologue in the world, but if you love it and connect with it and work hard on it, it will be like nothing they’ve ever seen and they will LOVE that. Find YOUR pieces. Don’t worry about “overdone”.
RUMOR 4: SHAKESPEARE STYLE
What it says: "Any Shakespeare monologue is fair game."
FALSE! When doing Shakespeare, it needs to be VERSE (not prose) and it needs to be high stakes!
Please do not do that weird thing where actors affect a “naturalism” or “casualness” to Shakespeare. That is ignorant. Of course it should be authentic and not overly declaimed. But it’s poetry and it’s heightened, so make it come to life and let the panel of auditors take it all in. Do not flatten it, rise to it.
By Anthony Wofford
Anthony is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division and Founder at How To Get Into Drama School. @anthonywofford