"The label you give yourself cannot impact external forces that are not motivated by your own psychology or influenced by a third party's pre-existing consciousness of you. We are all presented with reasons to struggle which come from completely external forces; to pretend that one is not struggling is either arrogance or an admission of defeat. To admit that one is struggling is a sign and a source of strength." - Evan A. Baker

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Timing is Everything

Part 1)

Riley, a male 18 year old actor from Canada, sent me this:
I am preparing to audition for a university theatre program. I need to prepare the usual 2 monologues, classic and contemporary. They do not have to be from specific plays per say. For one of them I was thinking of using the monologue that you talked about in early november 2010 on your blog entitled " Ever wish you could control your own dreams?"

This was you edited version,

"My dad is very stern. Kinda scary. He's a biochemist. He wants me to go to medical school, and I guess I do too, but it's so much pressure! And last week I had this huge test in Chemistry. I really like Chemistry, but there's so much to remember. I tanked. Who cares, right? It's just a stupid test. But I'm terrified of what my dad's gonna say. And of course the first thing he says to me when he gets home is "So, how'd the test go? Another A, right?" I told him we didn't get the test back yet. That night I dreamt I aced the test. In my dream I remembered every element. I could see the molecules and ions and solutions. I recognized every one. I KNEW IT ALL. And the funny thing is, the dream made the real test okay. I mean, I still got a C- and all. I still probably can't get an A for the semester no matter what I do on the next test, but I'm okay with it. Look, I KNOW Chemistry. I just had a bad day. The next morning I told my dad my grade. He got all quiet for a minute, but then he goes, "Well, you'll do better next time, right?" He didn't even freak. I never, in a million years, would have dreamt he'd be okay with it. I love my dad."

I like this monologue and feel it could work for me as I look very young for my age, (I keep getting told I look identical to 17-year old-esque Jesse McCartney). What do you think about using this monologue? I am having trouble finding others for my age range. Also I am still yet to find a classic piece...have any ideas on where I could look?

Thanks for any help you might have,
I appreciate it,

So, first things first:

If you're going to be auditioning to get into a university theater program, I strongly suggest contacting someone in the theater department there and getting the full rules. The program I auditioned into would not let an online monologue fly. They want you to find a monologue, read the play, and find your truth and blah blah blah in it. Double check you can have a monologue from any which where.

Now, if you find out you are able to use it, please cite the writers, Matt Buchanan & Lira Kellerman. Cause giving credit to the writers of your monologue is standard theater school auditioning etiquette plus, "And now, my contemporary monologue, which I found online," makes you sound like a douche. Sorry, but it does.

If you like the monologue, if it speaks to you, and you really think you can give an awesome performance of it, awesome. Do it. BUT let me be very clear here:

The reason they want you to do a classic and contemporary piece is so that they can see your range, and here's the trick: pretend your contemporary piece is from a movie or television show, and you're talking to your best friend. Your classic piece is one that will show you can do theater- you can use your Pretentious Stage Voice (Linklater calls it the "natural voice," because you're using your diaphragm to push the volume of your voice so you can project it, but I'm calling it what it is :) and have your gestures be a little grander and such. The juxtoposition is what is going to sell your talent.

As for finding classic pieces - it's super easy because you don't have to care that you look like a former boy bander's little brother. If you loved Lion King growing up and relate to Simba, fantastic, go read Hamlet and choose one of his. In fact, go to the library, check out Shakespeare's Complete works and scan the pages for large chunks of text. Or, you know, google it. There's a ton of resources.

And now part 2)

A few weeks ago, Rick Tran of Soliloblog asked if he could interview me about being an actress and using monologus. I said, sure! Send me your questions. But as I read them, I thought you know, it's VERY rare I get asked to perform a monologue because I mostly audition for film and tv, and on the very rare instance I have to do one, I write my own. I wasn't the best resource for him. But I wrote him back saying, you know, my friend Danielle would really rock this out. She's been critically acclaimed for her work in Shakespearean plays and LA theater and is extremely talented.

Her interview is very important for you, Riley, and really, any actor, to read. Great stuff.

I saw the interview go up the same day you emailed me Riley, so, ha! Awesome timing.


  1. And here I thought this was going to relate in some way to my most recent post with the exact some title. And it did and it didn't. Go figure.

  2. The library is a good place to start when it comes to finding contemporary monologues as well.

    I sometimes (veeeery rarely) get asked to perform a monologue when auditioning for a film, but in that case it's always best to stay away from Shakespeare and other classics and pick a film monologue or something you write yourself.

  3. I would check with the University first. They usually have some sort of audition criteria. This includes what type of monologue that they are looking for.

    Good Luck!
    Actress Confessions

  4. OMG. As a theatre classicist, I'm DYING right now. It IS your natural voice, damnit!!!

    PS - Riley - make sure that what ever piece you choose is in VERSE, not prose.......

  5. My audition to get into Chapman was in prose. Unless the school demands it in their audition requirements, I don't think it's something he'll have to worry about. Stop scaring him Rad!

    My natural voice is when I talk to my girlfriends. My pretentious stage voice is my pretentious stage voice. I'm a Struggling Actress for a reason, Rad! <3

  6. But the reason they want a classical piece in the first place is to see how he (or anyone) can handle poetry. Besides, prose is actually harder (I should know.)And they ALWAYS know the difference. I'm not trying to scare him! Ultimately, so long as you love what your audition piece is, then that's what it's about. I do Shakespeare for a living ... I know a little bit too. :P

    Did you know that in any given moment, you actually only use 5-10% of your full lung capacity? More obviously, if you're exercising. But right now, reading this blog, you're only using 5-10%. How much voice does one have with only 5-10%? Not a lot. It stops being pretentious when you honestly incorporate more of your lungs ... that's all I'm saying. And at some point, you're going to have to upgrade this blog title from struggling to something upgradable. It's not a matter of "if" but "when" my dear.

    Love from your "theatre only" classicist friend. ;)

  7. When Rad says, "Ultimately, so long as you love what your audition piece is, then that's what it's about," she's not kidding. Whatever you're auditioning with, make sure you love it. Very wise (and Radical!) words.

    And yes, while "It" might stop being pretentious when one incorporates more of one's lungs, it doesn't stop ME from sounding pretentious. ;)


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