When most actors and actresses show up for an audition they fear hearing the dreaded word, monologue. Auditions in themselves are nerve wracking situations. Add having to monologue to the situation and actors will tell you they would rather be excused to get a root canal instead. Stop looking at contemporary monologues for women in that negative light. Instead, realize that it is an opportunity to really let your talent shine. You can really show the casting directors what you can do. Let them get a sense of your delivery and presentation abilities.
A monologue is when an actor speaks as a character to the audience uninterrupted for an extended period of time. It is sort of like an actor’s solo. Take the chance to really put yourself out there. This article will give you some important tips to keep in mind to prepare and perform your contemporary monologues for women at your audition.
10 Tips on Performing Contemporary Monologues for Women
1. Be Prepared Ahead of Time
On the positive side, contemporary monologues for women are not called upon very often. However, when they are, it is a good idea to have a few contemporary monologues for women polished and under your belt. Six or seven contemporary monologues for women is usually a good number to stay fresh on. Make them of a variety of accents, lifestyles, and time periods. That way if you impress the directors with it and they ask for another to make sure it wasn’t just a fluke, you are well prepared to deliver another.
Another positive thing about keeping a few contemporary monologues for women ready and raring to go is that you can do them on your own time. This is instead of waiting for an audition that calls for one. Then when you do need it, all you have to do is brush up on it and not have to worry about starting from scratch.
2. Choose Monologues Appropriate for You
It is important to keep in mind that when you are acting you are portraying a character. They have their own qualities and physical aspects. Just because you can pull of the most exquisite rendition of Juliet, doesn’t mean you should if you are 40. The same goes if you are a young actress. Do not try to portray a character that is not age appropriate. This only makes the audition very awkward and the directors will be more distracted by, Why did Juliet’s grandmother read her lines, or Why is this little girl doing a bump and grind number? I feel so inappropriate watching this!
Most times you can gender-bend a part. But try not to veer too many years from an age range you can pull off convincingly.
3. Keep It Short
A casting director can tell if you can act in an extremely short period of time. Wasting too much of their time can make them impatient and lose their interest. After all, they have many others to listen to. Thus, it is a good idea to rework a long monologue. You can do this by chopping and pasting lines together to create a short, impressive burst of a monologue that lasts no more than a minute and a half.
Feel free to reverse lines, add words, even throw in a line or two from a different scene. You are allowed to do this and you can really make a strong monologue that will leave them with a good taste of your skill. Just let them know it is an adaptation.
4. Give Them a Story
I know, a minute and a half is a very short amount of time. However, it is possible to still tell a story in your monologue. Just make sure you are choosing monologues that don’t ramble. Choose something with more than one emotion. This will make your audition interesting and keep your judges behind the audition table from becoming bored.
This is where your reworking can come in handy. If your monologue seems one dimensional, find a spot where you can add a different emotion. Then, give a few of the lines some edge.
5. Keep Your Emotion in Check
Do not laugh, blubber, or scream. You want to make your audition committee take care of these emotions. Try to get them to cry. Also, try to get them to laugh. Moreover, try not to have them running for cover because you are screaming at the top of your lungs at them. Just because you are able to cry on cue doesn’t mean you’re a shoe in for a part. They want to see if you can act not hurt everyone’s ear drums.
If you have to laugh at your own audition, it makes you look like you do not trust your material to evoke the emotion you are seeking. With comical monologues keep it evenly delivered and again, let the audience laugh. Then if they do, don’t let yourself overdo it to get them to laugh more. Just because you can keep them rolling does not mean you will definitely be cast. Try to avoid letting the committee’s reaction be a method you use to gauge your chances of being cast for the role.
6. Avoid Boring Monologues
Steer clear of monologue books. They tend to be a collection of monologues that have been overused. An overused monologue is a boring one and your directors will have probably heard it so many times they dread hearing it again. Try using monologue books you purchase from the UK. Why would you do that? Because the monologues you find elsewhere will likely not be known over here.
Then you can have something, fresh, unique, and interesting to present. Also, your casting table will not have the ten other actors who used the same monologue earlier in the day to compare you to. A more unique, different monologue will make more of an impact.
7. Seek Some Advice
If you find yourself milling over books and having anxiety attacks about which to choose, stop wasting precious time and call in a coach. A coach will know what to look for that will be appropriate for you and appropriate for the part you are going for.
Just gather all of your contemporary monologues for women books and sift through them until you have chosen about a dozen pieces that you like. Then bring those pieces to the coach and he will direct you to ones that will work best for you and what you are trying to accomplish. If you are really having a hard time, many coaches will also work with you and possibly even help you rework them.
8. Pick Something You Like
It is not necessary to really like the monologue you are performing. It is much more important that it is performed well, appropriate, and interesting. However, if you can find one that not only works for the audition, but is something you like as well, then you have an equation for success.
This is because you will find it easier and more enjoyable to learn and perform. That really comes out in your acting.
Be aware of your speed and rhythm. I know auditioning can make you nervous. But nerves can make you speed through a 2 minute monologue in 30 seconds. Keep your speed and rhythm appropriate to what you are saying in the monologue.
If it is an exciting few lines, speeding it up may be appropriate. Something sullen or melancholy may necessitate a slower speed. Variety in speed will also help maintain interest.
10. Polishing and Preparing Tips
If you are going to a big production or a very important audition, do not try out a new monologue. Try the monologues in front of smaller productions to get a sense of how well they are received. Another good tip is to give yourself time to really polish your audition material. Trying to cram in a monologue days before you are to audition doesn’t give you the opportunity to really do so. Have your gesturing prepared. Do not wait until the audition and wing it because you think you’re going to leave it au natural. And address the space just above the director’s heads.
Finally, end with a pause, bow your head, and say thank you. Do not ruin a great performance with an, Okay, that’s it. It makes you look unprofessional and abruptly snaps the directors out of your audition.
Taking the Stage
Having to perform contemporary monologues for women does not have to be a daunting task that sends you into anxiety or causes you to avoid an audition. Use this opportunity to show what you can do. Keep these tips in mind when choosing, preparing, and performing your monologue. This way, you gain an edge at your audition.
Have you done many monologues at auditions? What did you feel was the roughest part? Leave any helpful tips and experiences for other actors facing this situation below.