This is the next post in a series about auditioning. (Read
the series.) In this installment we ask
Professor David A. Miller—who
teaches all levels of acting at BU and will direct this spring’s production of
Harvey—about where actors find great monologues for auditions.
When asked to participate in the general audition for a season of plays,
actors are often asked to prepare one or two monologues. In the previous post on monologues
, we explored what a monologue is and how to prepare it for an audition. In this
post we will go further into how to find
a great monologue.
Where do actors find
1. The best place to find great monologues is in great plays
! Read lots of them. Start with your favorite
playwright. Read their plays and be on the lookout for great monologues. See
plays and listen for those great monologues, then get a copy of that play to
2. Another helpful resource for
finding monologues is books of
monologues from plays. That's right, others have done some preliminary
research for you. The editors of these books Have read a lot of great plays and
have compiled monologues for you. One of my favorite series of monologue books
is In Performance: Contemporary Monologues for Men and Women Late Teens-20sby JV Mercanti.
Not only are there fantastic monologues from new plays, but Mr. Mercanti is a
smart director, casting director and acting coach who includes helpful tips on
auditioning and questions about the plays for actors to answer on their own.
If you are a current university
student, there are many monologue books on 2-hour reserve at the circulation
desk of the Andruss Library. These include the aforementioned In Performance
series. Also on reserve are specialized monologue books such as Playwrights’
Center Monologues for Men, Playwrights’ Center Monologues for Women,
and Monologues for Actors of Color (an electronic book, so students can
access if from any computer). To see the full list, go to http://guides.library.bloomu.edu/HarveyAndrussLibrary,
click on the “Find” tab, click on Reserve Readings (on the left side of the
page) and select Miller, David / Theatre / Theatre 112: Fundamentals of Acting.
3. Another great resource for finding monologues is your fellow actors
. In your search for monologues, you are
going to come across monologues that are great but not right for you. You may
wish to swap these monologues with other actors.
Is there anything I should avoid?
Avoid any monologue that comes from a book of monologues written simply to
be audition monologues. They don't tend to be as rich as those from a full
length play. Also, it’s recommended that you avoid any monologue that comes
from the internet and not from a published play. There are potentially some
good ones out there, but it’s more likely to be found through more reputable
How do actors find monologues
tailored to a specific audition?
If you are auditioning for a specific play, as opposed to a general audition
for a season or festival of plays, you may be asked to prepare a piece by
Shakespeare, or a verse selection or something that is aligned with the play.
Generally, it is not recommended to do a monologue from the play itself.
Instead, you might choose something similar to that play.
If you are auditioning for Harvey
by Mary Chase, for example, you might do some research about the play itself
then select a monologue that seems similar to the world of that play. The first
thing to do is to read the play. By reading the play you will learn that Harvey
is a comedy, but it’s a specific type of comedy. It’s not a farce, for example.
You may want to find a monologue that showcases your comic sensibilities.
was written and is set in
the 1940s. You may consider finding a monologue from a play from that era. Harvey
won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945. The year before the winner was The Skin of Our Teeth
, a fantastic play
by Thornton Wilder. Another comedy of the era, You Can't Take It With You
by Kaufman and Hart, won in 1937. (A list of other Pulitzer winners
These plays are examples of great comedies from the era that might have great
audition monologues in them. Other playwrights from the era include Lillian
Hellman, Arthur Miller and Maxwell Anderson.
Professor David A.
Miller teaches acting, directing, devised theatre, and playwriting at
Bloomsburg University. He regularly directs productions for BU Players
(Macbeth, The Nosemakers Apprentice: Chronicles of a Plastic Surgeon) and
professionally (Amphibian Stage Productions, The Artful Conspirators).