What Makes A Good Monologue?

This blog will reveal all you need to know about what makes a good monologue and provide monologue advice to any aspiring actors or actresses. 

What is a monologue?

A monologue is a speech delivered by a single character in a play or film. Monologues are one character speaking to themselves or the audience and sometimes they address other characters in the scene. Monologues have a special role in storytelling: they often provide crucial information about a character or the plot to the audience. If used correctly, they can be an excellent way of communicating a character’s internal thoughts or past, or to provide additional particular insights about other important characters in the play.

A monologue is almost like a scene break and can signal a shift in narrative or story. It is not just a piece of speech but it can capture a whole mood. Often there is a great difference between the tone of the monologue and the surrounding dialogue. This allows special emphasis to be placed on the monologue by the audience and helps them understand that it is especially important to listen to. 

How long is a monologue?

A monologue is not a long piece of speech. The best monologues usually range between a minute and a half and two minutes in length. This length ensures that the audience’s full attention is on the actor or actress on stage at that time and what they are saying. If it goes on too long, the audience will naturally zone out. 

When you are performing a monologue it can, of course, feel longer than this minute or two! When it is just you and the audience, the pressure to deliver the right words and tone is definitely felt. However, it should be taken as a great opportunity to perform at your very best to reveal and give a unique insight into your character.

Why are monologues used in auditions?

Monologues are used in auditions as they provide an opportunity for an individual to really showcase their talent in creating and interpreting characters. The best actors and actresses experiment with tone in a monologue, making it their own. 

The narrow focus of a monologue makes it perfect for an audition. Easy to practice and perfect, they demonstrate to a casting director that you can hone your craft and master a short section of speech without the help or guidance of other speech or characters. 

Why are monologues important?

A monologue can show who you are as an actor or actress. If you want to express yourself and showcase your best talents, choose a monologue that is going to enable this. For example, if you are auditioning for a role that will have lots of emotional scenes, pick a monologue that allows you to express intense feelings through tone and words. 

What makes a good monologue?

The best monologues are entertaining. They keep the audience glued to the individual speaking on stage from their first word to their very last. If the monologue is boring, the people watching will naturally lose concentration and their attention may drift. 

Tone and expression are crucial in delivering a successful monologue, so ensure that you pick one that allows you to thoroughly experiment with this. Despite being one piece of speech, a monologue should have specific moments. These moments can only be defined by the way you perform them. 

Consider who your monologue is for. Are you performing one as part of an audition? An open casting? Or in a school play? By defining your audience first, you can get an idea of what they may want to see and be most interested in. If you know the exact play you are auditioning for and a monologue is not provided, perhaps choose a snippet from the role you want so that the casting team can get a glimpse of you in the part first. 

What about famous monologues?

When it comes to selecting a good monologue, there is a multitude to choose from, from modern to more traditional, for girls and for boys. However, the most famous monologues are not always the best to audition with and are often overdone. We have all heard of Shakespeare’s ‘To be or not to be’ in Hamlet, and ‘Morning Routine’ in American Psycho, for example. Here are iampro’s recommendations for monologues to practice. 

If you want feedback on your monologue, by industry pros every month, check out iampro’s membership options. The monthly self-tape challenge is a great way to practice an important part of the industry and play with a range of monologues, enabling you to explore what works well for you.