Recently, I was asked to attend a workshop on audition monologues, and in making my notes, I put together a do/don't list for auditions. This may be helpful to some, and less helpful to others, and other directors may completely disagree with me on every point. But...here are my thoughts on picking/preparing audition material:
- Pick a monologue that shows YOU off. I am MUCH more interested in who you are than in the piece you’ve picked.
- Pick a monologue from an actual play, as opposed to one from a book of monologues, or an online monologue source. Or a movie. There CAN be exceptions to this, but there are few.
- READ THE PLAY ENTIRELY. I might know the play you’ve picked, I might not…either way, YOU need to know what exactly is going on in the monologue you have selected.
- Try, as hard as you can, to memorize your audition material. If I wanted you to read, I’d have asked for you to read from the script.
- Make BIG choices. I may not agree with your choices, but I will ALWAYS respect the fact that you made them. Be clear, be decisive, be bold.
- Plan and rehearse the words AND movement. If you move, move for a reason.
- Plant your feet, take a breath.
- Relax. I am nice, and I want you to be comfortable and feel secure in a terrible environment.
- Remember that I am watching you from the second you enter the room—the monologue is only a part of your audition. I’m watching you interact with me, with my SM, with whoever else is in the room. I want to see how you deal with pressure.
- Be prepared for me to challenge you to make a different choice, or to direct you in some way.
- BE YOURSELF.
- Pick a monologue from the show I’m directing (this goes for songs too)
- Do an accent, unless I SPECIFICALLY ask for one in the audition notice. Instead, spend the time you would have spent working on dialect working to completely understand what the monologue you have selected MEANS.
- Do Shakespeare unless I have asked for a classical monologue.
- Do Shakespeare unless you know EXACTLY what the monologue means.
- Some directors dislike hearing monologues from shows and roles on your resume—they wonder whose choices they are seeing, yours or your director’s.
- PANIC if you make a mistake, or drop a line, or trip and fall down. I understand. I want to see how you deal with that. If you go up, you go up. Now what?
- Write your own monologue. I want to see how you deal with someone else’s words.
- Be afraid to STAND STILL. Or sit. Or lay down. Sometimes stillness is the BEST choice, even if your character is furious, or crazy, or drunk, or high.
- Don’t Pick a monologue where your character is drunk or high.
- Wander. If you move, move for a reason. If there is no reason, or you don’t know the reason, DON’T move. This goes for gestures too.
- Yell. If your character is angry, find the crescendo and get there…but don’t yell the whole time. There is MUCH to be said about subtlety, and there are MANY ways to be angry without screaming.
- Go over time. If I have a time limit, it’s for a reason. Pay attention to the time limit and respect me enough to ensure that I don’t have to cut you off.