Every high school theatre student can pretty much agree: auditions are the worst. While in the actual acting world, monologues are not as often used as audition pieces, in high school, it’s pretty much the exclusive tool directors use to cast! A lot rides on the one to two minute audition monologues, and here are some ways you can make it count!
1. Know the show.
If you are doing a farce, it would be completely unhelpful to both you and your director for you to perform a dramatic piece! Also, keep in mind, that shows can be classified far beyond comedy and drama. If a show is melodramatic, show that you can pull that off. If a show’s style is very minimalistic, find a monologue in which the character expresses his/her emotions very subtly. This requires you actually reading the script before you audition!
2. Know your typecast.
While it isn’t wise to pre-cast yourself before you audition, you need to be able to identify what kind of role you are expecting to be cast as. If you realize that you are more of a character actor and wouldn’t be cast as the lead ingenue, don’t do a monologue that is from the point of view of a lead ingenue. Identify a couple roles in the show that you could see yourself as, and pick a monologue that captures their essence.
3. Know who you are talking to.
There is absolutely nothing worse than hearing a monologue that is monotonous and dull. Why does that happen so often? Because so few actors can connect to a piece that isn’t dialogue. There is no other actor present there with you to feed off of, so you must create them in front of you. (Note: in front of you, not to the side; focus right above the judges’ heads.) Imagine what they are doing as you speak to them. What are you trying to make them believe? What do you want from them? Imagine their changing expression as you speak to them.
4. Be aware of your physicality.
In full-length plays you have months to practice your blocking and get comfortable with the set. In auditions, you have no blocking and minimal (if any) furniture, so it is very easy to have a weak or distracting physical presence. Be aware of the way you are standing. Is your posture correct, or are you slouching? Make sure your feet are planted and your presence is commanding, and always avoid walking around too much. There should be very minimal, if any, walking in a monologue, as it shows lack of confidence! The best way to see if you are doing any distracting physical things repeatedly is to ask people you trust to watch you.
5. Watch your voice.
Find places in your monologue to change vocal levels. If it’s an angry monologue, make sure you aren’t screaming the whole time! Think about when you are angry at someone! As you change tactics, you diversify your vocals. Obviously, make sure to annunciate and project, and never do a character voice/accent unless it is specifically specified and you are completely confident in your ability. It is always an amateur move to audition with a character voice.
All in all, confidence is key. Make sure that you prepare far enough beforehand that you don’t even have to worry about it on audition day! Just make sure that you form a interesting character in the short length of time that you have, and don’t be afraid to take risks; you want to stand out! Break a leg!