Tuesday, September 17, 2013
TIPS FOR ACTORS ON PREPARING A MONOLOGUE
Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to theater is a sport.
I don't know about you, but I love performing monologues (I also like writing them very much, but today's post is about acting). They're juicy, aren't they? Not only that, it gives an actor the opportunity to have the undivided attention of an audience for a little while, and to challenge themselves to be as engaging as possible for two, ten, or even twenty or more minutes.
And, of course, monologues are often used in acting classes and for audition purposes. I remember nervously learning my monologues when I was auditioning for acting schools, working them until they felt like they were a part of me.
Below are a few guidelines for student and community theatre actors about preparing a monologue, whether it is for an audition or a performance, a stand alone piece, or part of play.
MAKE SURE YOU KNOW THE PLAY
If you have taken a monologue from a play for an audition or acting class purposes, make sure you have read the ENTIRE play before performing the monologue. This is vital in understanding where the character is, what there goals are, what they have done so far to achieve them, what obstacles are in their way... all these great questions you need to know the answer to in order to create a compelling performance.
DEVELOP YOUR CHARACTER
Again, if you are doing a monologue for an audition or for an acting class, you need to develop a character just as you would for an entire play. You need to develop an appropriate voice, walk, physicality, motivation... in short, all the stuff you would for a standard play.
WHO IS YOUR CHARACTER TALKING TO?
Obviously, this is important. Is your character talking to an unseen character? Are they breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the audience? Are they talking to an unseen video camera for a documentary? Are they talking to themselves, thinking and feeling out loud? You need to know who you're talking to in order to sharpen your character's intentions.
WHERE IS YOUR CHARACTER?
Obviously, this is very important as well. People behave differently when in a library than when in a grocery store. Or in a bedroom or in a Laundromat, etc., etc.
WHAT DOES YOUR CHARACTER WANT?
This is a question that an actor should be aware of always, monologue or not, because a character is a collection of wants, and the actions they perform to achieve what they want. In a monologue when it is just you speaking, it is so important to be precise in what your character wants. Otherwise, why bother even have a monologue? Your character needs to earn their speeches, remember.
BE CONFIDENT IN YOUR MEMORIZATION
You may not believe what I'm about to tell you. In fact, you might be thinking, "Bobby, you're crazy." But I have found, in my experience, that memorizing a monologue is actually quite a bit easier than memorizing little tiny lines that pop in here and there throughout a play. Having said this, it is important to be confident in your knowledge of the piece. The last thing you want when trying to engage an audience, teacher, or casting director, is to be thinking..."Oh, no, what's my next line". You want to know your monologue cold, so that you can stay in the moment as much as possible. I have always found it helpful to test my memorization by writing out the monologue... more than once. And, of course, you should be running through it a great deal... a very great deal. Over and over and over.
And most importantly...
YOU ARE NOT ALONE WHEN YOU ARE PERFORMING A MONOLOGUE!
Just because you are acting by yourself, it doesn't mean that you are not connected to others... your AUDIENCE is your scene partner. You can play off of their energy as you would another actor onstage.
I hope you have found these tips somewhat helpful. I know, from my experience, that they have always helped me.
Until next time, please remember... Theater is a Sport. Sometimes even a solo sport.
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