The monologue intimidates actors. It seems soraw. At least with a...
The monologue intimidates actors. It seems soraw. At least with a song, you've got that blessed accompaniment you know..accompanying you. If you've got sides, there is a script in your hand. A monologue feels like it is snatched from the ether, with no context, and worse you get the least feedback from performing them.
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Obviously, as a coach, I'm a big fan of hiring an outside eye for audition preparation. It reveals your "parasites" as my one of my ol' actin' teachers called them. You know, your habits, your nervous moves. I know one actor who slaps their thigh. I know another who sort of pumps their leg like Megadeath is playing in their brain. There's the scratch behind the ear. The Josh Harnett squint. The chin wrinkle. I could go on and on. The thing about parasites is, you don't always know you are doing them. A coach can help you identify and get rid of the parasites. Plus it's nice to know when you need to be specific, if a gesture is unclear. You guys. I'm a fan of coaching. I yam one.
BUT. Sometimes there just ain't time or resources to hire a coach. I like to provide anecdotes from my own acting career because first and foremost I'm an actor. I learn from listening to my fellow actors talk about their experiences.
I recently found myself in a situation. I had an audition with someone who has seen me before, and even liked my monologue enough to write it down. That meant one thing: DON'T DO THAT MONOLOGUE AGAIN UNLESS HE ASKS!
So I had to dig in and prep a new one (I was due anyway).
So here are my tips on prepping a monologue fast and successfully.
1. Read the play. You justgotta. It tells you really important information like who you are speaking to, what the moment before is, where you are, and what's on the line. That saidin an audition situation, particularly in a general audition (where monologues are most often used), the point is to show who YOU are as an actor. For audition purposes only, it's cool to take some things out of context. Make it your own.
2. Answer this question: what's on the line? I like this better than "what is your objective?" or "what do you want?" That can get all.mushy. We have immediate objectives, higher ones, lower ones all important info but at this particular moment What is on the line?
3. Shorter is better (and side bonus- quicker to prepare) . That 3 minute limit they give you? It's not a challenge. Find a piece with a solid beginning, middle, and end and aim for around 1-1:30 minutes. That's long enough to establish yourself, and short enough to leave them wanting more and not overstay your welcome.
4. If there is no specification, use a comedic piece or at least a piece with a sense of humor. As far as I'm concerned, a fully dramatic monologue that comes out of the blue is like watching somebody cry at a bar. It's uncomfortable; it's really hard to invest in it; there isn't any context; nobody knows what to say afterwards. Better to make 'em laugh, or at least chuckle inwardly. Laughter provides a connection between you and the casting team.
As far as I'm concerned, a fully dramatic monologue that comes out of the blue is like watching somebody cry at a bar.
5. LOVE THE PIECE. LOVE IT. GODDAMMIT. "It's alright" or "it gets the job done" is NOT OKAY. LOVE IT.
6. Mark your beats. Beats indicate moments of change. They are important.
7. Mark your punctuation. Punctuation is the playwright's map key for you.
8. Make choices. Have a point of view. Experiment with making the choices large in scope. Push your limits. You may discover something.
TIP: Recite your monologues to yourself as you do your normal daily routine: while doing laundry, makeup and hair, washing dishes, laying in bed, walking to work. I've discovered many gestures doing this. I've also discovered things about the text by exploring it in this way. (It's also a great way to really familiarize yourself with your lines.)
9. Establish who you are talking to. Create them. STAGE them. What is this imaginary actor doing. Is it pissing you off? Is it turning you on? How are you physically engaging with them. You have to know.
10. Make your opening moment undeniable. What I mean by that is there should be no question of when you are starting. Don't ease in. Jump in.
11. When prepping at home, do the whole audition including slate (Hi I'm Ferd Farkle, my monologue is from a Pringles commercial") AND wear the shoes you plan on wearing. You have to feel like you're gonna feel and you have to say all the words you're going to have to say.
12. Rehearse it full voice, full performance. DON'T JUST RUN FOR LINES. Make every moment count.
13. Gesture only when you absolutely have to. That means, a gesture must carry intention. When you do gesture, make it count.
14. Use the space. Look at it. SEE it. If you choose to use the chair, it doesn't have to be just a chair.
15. Make a choice that seems counter intuitive to the rest of the monologue. Think back to a time when you we're full out sobbing. 90% of the time, there is a moment when you chuckle. You sniff. You wipe your nose. Or when you are laughing so hard and then you suddenly realize you are late. Big change. It's so interesting to watch. You are reminiscing with your sibling and then they say something that makes you go "WHAT THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?" Find the record scratch moment.
16. Make a discovery. Your character needs to learn something new during that monologue otherwise you are just public speaking. Find a moment where you realize something. It doesn't have to be at a beat change. Midline realizations are inherently watchable.
17. Take your time. I may encourage the monologue itself to be short, but use all the time you have and live the moments. You should know the pacing as well as your lines.
- 17. b But have a sense of urgency. This is a moment in a character's life that you chose. Ergo, it must be an important moment in that character's life.
18. Make the end clear.
I hope that helps you prepare dynamic monologues and takes away some monologue anxiety.
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Posted in Performing Arts Post Date 12/14/2016