Saturday 27 February 2010

Choosing a monologue

To audition for Toi Whakaari I have to prepare two monologues - one classical, one modern, each two minutes long -  and a two minute unaccompanied song. So, how to choose a monologue?

I am by no means an expert in theatre literature. I have read the more important plays by many of the well-known German playwrights. I have read a lot of Shakespeare, some Marlowe, some Wilde and some Kushner etc. I have come across Ibsen, and some of the Russian and French playwrights. When it comes to very modern playwrights though, I have to pass and off the top of my head I couldn't name one monologue.

So, how to go about finding the right play, character and speech? My approach is, so far, threefold. It includes googling monologues, re-reading plays with characters I liked, and having a snoop around the play-section of libraries.

Online I came across a couple of interesting resources. First, there is the Monologue Archive, which contains a number of comic, dramatic and classic monologues for both women and men. Similarly, one theatre history page has a script archive with a monologues section. A friend also forwarded a monologue booklet used for auditions by the University of Melbourne's theatre department. Even if you don't find anything here that strikes a chord, I found reading around very helpful to get an idea of what I am looking for for my audition.

Once you find a few monologues that resonate with you, there is absolutely no way to get around reading the corresponding plays. If you want to short-cut here, you might just as well not audition at all. In fact, that's what an actor does, reading plays, reading scripts.

A helpful resource for having a quick look into older and classical plays is the website of Project Gutenberg. Type in the name of an author or play and have a read on screen to see whether a certain play interests you. If you can't find your play there, an actual library might be a good idea. In Wellington there is not only the City Library but also Victoria University's Central Library on Kelburn Campus and of course Toi Whakaari's Nola Millar Library. The latter two are to my knowledge open to the public, although you can't take any books out unless you are a student there. Again, Playmarket is also a great place to stop by.

Next step: read, read, read until you find something you love. After all you will be working with your plays and characters for quite a while in the preparation process. You don't want to be handicapped by hating your monologue on the day of the audition!

At the moment I am lucky enough to have found one play that I am completely enraptured with and in the process of finding a few more to create some choice. After a long time reading mostly stuff for uni, I am again reading things I actually want to read. For this alone it's all worth it!

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