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gavdawg262cv's avatar

Any tips for learning/acting out short monologues?

Asked by gavdawg262cv (170points) August 18th, 2011

In a few weeks, I will be auditioning for a play. I’ve never performed a monologue in front of anyone, and that’s what most of the audition is based on.
Do you have any tips for someone who is newer to acting? If you act, how do you memorize a monologue and get into character?

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9 Answers

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Work in front of a mirror and start by reading it out loud. Next read it out loud with expression.
Once you are starting to know it well, perform it in front of a mirror. Next create for yourself a mental picture of the character. What do they look like? How old are they? So they smoke? With whom do they live. What motivates them to get out of bed in the morning? How do they dress? Do they give off any distinct aromas? (e.g. perfume, cologne, body odour) Do they have an accent? From where do they come? What major life experiences have shaped their lives?

Got it?

FluffyChicken's avatar

DO NOT use a mirror. If you use a mirror you will be thinking about what you look like, and it will take you out of the moment. Write a full biography of your character. Go through your monologue and underline the most important words (stress words) in each sentence. If it’s Shakespeare, and it’s in iambic pentameter, it’s already done for you. Paraprase each sentence in your own words. Write your subtext (what your character is thinking as he/she speaks.) If it’s Shakespeare, there is no subtext. Avoid choosing monologues that require an accent. Choose an age/gender/race appropriate monologue. Read the whole play so that you know the character’s story. What was your character doing 5 seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years ago? Details, details, details. “Generality is the enemy of all art” so says Constantine Stanislavski. Stay in the moment at all times.

What are you trying to get the person you are talking to to do(this must be a strong, specific action)? What are your obstacles? What are some ways you can get this person to do that?

Arrive to your audition early. If you are early you are on time. If you are on time you are late. If you are late, don’t even bother showing up. Be dressed neatly and cleanly. Keep your hair out of your face. Be warmed up, physically as well as vocally, so you can use your body and your words clearly and effectively.

Break a leg, be prepared to do crap tons of work/writing. Also, I highly recommend This Book.

snowberry's avatar

This may not help you right now, but it may in the future if you continue with theater. I have cultivated a way to go into character whenever relating any sort of story, personal, or otherwise. I do it every day, and it’s second nature now.

A few years ago I was stopped by a policeman for failing to use a turn signal. He asked me if I had ever been stopped before, and I told him I had, and proceeded to tell him the entire incident. Before I was finished, he was struggling not to crack up laughing. I was effective enough, he said although he never before let someone in my situation off with just a warning, he was going to do so that time for me. It was a good performance, (And for those who are wondering, it was crazy and true.)

choreplay's avatar

My wife says read childrens books to get used to using intonation properly. She’s done over 100 plays and teaches an auditions class.

gavdawg262cv's avatar

Thanks to all of you for helping! Sorry I didn’t specify this, but I already have a monologue picked out, and it doesn’t come from a published work, so there isn’t a backstory to the character. The character is supposed to act as if he doesn’t care about anything in life, while he is just suppressing all his emotion. I know that I should dress appropriately for the audition, but does this mean that I should dress like the character?
This is just for a school production, nothing professional, so I’m not making a first impression (I used to work crew for the plays).

Thanks again for the advice!

snowberry's avatar

@gavdawg262cv Then to be effective, you need to create a back story of your own. It lends unspoken depth to your character. It lends emotion, facial expression, and more, and none of it will be there, unless you DO have a back story. That’s the way real people work, and to make it believable, that’s what you need here.

choreplay's avatar

If he doesn’t have a back story than you need to create a back story and then put yourself in that story, all the way in, feel the emotions of the past you made and live it. Just read @snowberry so ditto.

FluffyChicken's avatar

Don’t try to “Feel” anything. When you try to play specific emotions it comes off as fake, because it is. Instead, use “as ifs” for example, try and recall a situation you were in or that you can easily imagine yourself in that you would have a similar reaction to in the scene. If you are in a scene that someone close to you died, don’t play sad! Instead, recall a time where similar issues may have come up, like if someone you know actually died, or a break up, and put yourself back into that situation, until you associate that situation with the situation of the scene. Don’t play emotions, play situations.

harple's avatar

As a music teacher I can give you a tip on memorising the text (also useful for a section within the text if there’s always a line you forget):

Start with the last line/sentence, repeat it over until you can say it without the words infront of you. Then the line before it, flowing into the line you’ve already memorised. Then the line before that, flowing into the lines you now know well. Etc etc.

If it’s just a tricky section within the text, start with the line AFTER the one you keep forgetting, then work backwards (as above) through to the line BEFORE the one that trips you up.

This won’t help you with feeling or expression etc (you’ve got great tips above for that), but it will help you to feel confident with the text itself.

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