When Your Monologue Isn’t Good Enough

Billy Shakes is all, “Right. And what will you be doing for us today?”

I’m having one of those moments where–I’ll be honest, here–because I have primarily been cast in staged readings lately, and not full productions, I feel so rusty.

I love doing readings because it’s usually a fun way to meet people and network, and while there usually isn’t much (or any) pay, it’s a minimal time commitment that can have huge rewards as far as forging connections with artists and companies.

A lot of actors are really terrible at cold reads but come alive once the script is gone. I’m the opposite. I rock a cold read like nobody’s business, but if I have to audition with a monologue, I get nervous. It’s a very unnatural way to perform. You’ve taken a huge chunk of text that only happens in a script because of enormous momentum that has built up to that point–a person has to have a good reason to talk for a whole page or two, after all–and totally removed the context. Of course then it’s up to the actor to build the moment before and to “see” a scene partner where there isn’t one, but that is hard, you guys. And some people, like my boyfriend, are really good at it, just naturally, and they are instantly dynamic.

Whereas I’m a great reader, and you can hand me sides I’ve never seen before and I can act them in a variety of ways with total confidence (a thing a lot of actors can, by definition, do, so don’t think I’m special). But that is rarely what non-union auditions want and so today, on another day off, I am hunting for monologues. I have never had age-appropriate go-tos, mostly because in school it doesn’t matter as much, as long as you’re killing it, and that for most of my auditions since I’ve picked new ones as they came.

The mission for today is: monologues!

I apologize for the excessive run-on sentences in this post. It’s my mood. But tell me, actor friends, do you prefer a cold read or a monologue audition?

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