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How to Pick a Top Notch Monologue

How to Pick a Top Notch Monologue

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Come learn this skill and more at the College Audition Program, a one day intensive workshop to help you
land the College of your Dreams! Sunday, Oct. 22nd in San Francisco. Open to ages 14-18 and parents are
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“When I first began my college application process, I felt completely lost between essays, auditions, school tours and the like. I reached to out to Shawn to ask for some help with Audition coaching, and I am so incredibly glad that I did. He worked with me on my monologues and songs in a way that felt very natural and brought out the best version of my performance possible. Now I am studying to get my B.F.A. degree in Acting at The New School located in New York City. I am so grateful to Shawn for helping get to where I am today.” – Erez Putterman

For college auditions, you’ll need to have a solid repertoire of college audition monologues. At minimum, you should be prepared with two contrasting contemporary monologues and one classical.

Contemporary Monologues are monologues from Chekov to today. Ideally, you should be choosing a monologue with modern language that was written in the last ten to twenty years. Alternatively, Classical Monologues are pre-Chekov and include (but aren’t limited to) the following playwrights: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Webster, etc.

Now that you know the definitions: what should you be looking for in a monologue? What makes up a quality college audition monologue?

For starters, here are three qualities that define a top-notch monologue:

Present Tense

Storytelling monologues or monologues that only talk about past events are not compelling pieces. We want to feel like we are along for the journey, not being told something second hand! As an auditor, it’s fun to feel like we are a fly on the wall witnessing a conversation that’s happening for the first time. Make sure your piece is written in the present tense and is active.

Talking to Someone

You must be talking to someone specific in your monologue. Often, monologues in which you are talking to “yourself” or the “audience” can be stale and have no clear conflict. It doesn’t matter if you are talking to your mom, friend or boyfriend – just make sure it’s clear who the scene partner is!

Super Objective

Quality college audition monologues are ones that have a clear Super Objective. Super Objectives are what you ultimately want by the end of the monologue from the person you are talking to (your scene partner). This can be as little as an apology or as big as a breakup – but you have to really want something by the end…or else, why are you talking for two minutes?

In addition, here are some tips for choosing the perfect pieces:

Make sure the monologue is from a published play (not a film)

Unless you are specifically asked to present a monologue from a film, you should always assume you should be pulling monologues from published plays. Schools like Texas State expect you to read the play and gather important context and insight into your chosen character.

The monologue should be age appropriate

You should be playing characters that you can believably pass for now. It can be confusing as you may have played John Proctor in your high school’s production of The Crucible, but in high school every role needs to be filled no matter what the age restrictions are. For college auditions, they want to see you in a role that is a representation of who you are as an individual and also a role that you could potentially play tomorrow. Don’t play a character that has more life experience or is surrounded by obstacles that you can’t relate to.

No excessive cursing/uncomfortable scenarios

Do not try to shock the auditor. Monologues that are filled with swear words, lewd language or extremely dark circumstances will make your auditor feel uncomfortable. As Webster University suggests, “Do not do extreme characterizations of body, voice, or speech (extreme age, illness, insanity, etc.)”

Want to know where to find monologues that fit these requirements? Tune in next week for our next blog post on where to find the perfect college audition monologue!

Article reposted from Chelsea Diehl (Thanks Chelsea – you hit the nail on the head with this one)
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