I consider my weakest auditions to be those requiring monologues. Recently I attended an open call for one of Chicago’s major casting directors, and was not happy at all with my performance. And supposedly she has a memory like a steel trap.
I do not like monologues, and don’t feel comfortable doing them, which I’m sure comes across during the audition. Give me the actual script or copy and let me do a cold read any day.
Actors are supposed to have one classical (ie Shakespeare) and one contemporary monologue (ie almost anything else) prepared. Sometimes they want to hear 2 minutes of each, sometimes 1. This means you either need 4 monologues or 2 that can be coherently edited. You might also need separate monologues that are comedic and dramatic.
Finding the right ones can be a challenge…you don’t want to do something everyone else is doing and you want to show yourself to your best advantage. Ponder the daunting task of sifting through every play or movie ever written to uncover that pearl in the haystack! Of course there are many monologue books that attempt to help. I recently bought The Monologue Audition, but how do I know if I’m doing a good job?
So I am utlizing the services of a monologue coach. He’s going to help me choose new monologues and, after I see what I can do on my own, will help me interpret them. We’ve talked so he can get a sense of my personality. I told him the monologues I’ve done (for the curious, they are: Carol from Mamet’s Oleanna and two different Lady Annes from Richard III because I was in both of these plays and feel I know them well. Yes, I played Carol. No, I did not play Lady Anne, I played Lady Margaret who had 7 lines that were cut to 3. But I was on stage for 45 minutes frozen in a tapestry-like tableau so I heard Lady Anne do the speeches ad nauseum. I also have a Mary the maid from Ionesco’s Bald Soprano, a Sabina from Wilder’s Skin of our Teeth—why? because Vivien Leigh played her–and an Imogen from Cymbeline. Those who know these plays may realize that I’ve hung onto these a long, long time and that some of the characters may be too young for me now.) I sent my headshot/resume and he’s going to watch my actor slate.
Then, next month, I’ll be taking a monologue workshop given by two of Chicago’s best known casting directors, including the one mentioned above. This should serve two purposes: give me the chance to work with them vs. zipping in for a minute audition and help me end up with a really good monologue!