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5 Reasons To Write Your Audition Monologue

5 Reasons To Write Your Audition Monologue

By Leah Roth Barsanti

First off, let me start by saying that I’m a playwright, not an actor. I suppose I used to be an actor, in the way that all theatre people “used to be actors” before stage fright or a hatred of auditioning or the fact that their voice didn’t quite match their appearance drove them to other vocations in the theatre community. For me: it was all these things, but if I had to list a frontrunner among the three, it would be the auditioning thing. I hated auditioning. It was weird and awkward and you never knew what to wear or what monologue to choose. 

Though I can’t pretend that I ever figured out what to wear, I CAN perhaps offer a solution to the question of what monologue you should bring with you into the audition room. You know: that monologue that will show the panel both who you are as an individual and that you’re the perfect for the role you want? Sure, maybe this monologue can be found in the dusty tomes of “Modern Comedic Monologues for [Insert Gender Here],” but (as someone who has now been in many audition rooms on both sides) I think it’s better to just write the thing yourself! Here’s why:

1. It’s Impressive!

When you tell an audition panel you wrote the monologue you are about to perform, it’s always a little exciting for them because you are revealing another aspect of yourself as an artist. Additionally, there are an increasing number of really cool theatre and performing arts companies (The Neofuturists in Chicago, for example, spring readily to mind) that want actors involved in every part of the process of creating the work they will eventually perform. But even if you aren’t auditioning for the Neofuturists, performing your own original monologue shows that you are a smart actor who understands what makes a story theatrical: a trait that will make you a great addition to any cast! 

2. You’ll Always Write For YOUR TYPE

So many actors/writers I know started writing after they realized there were no roles out there that felt like they were written specifically for them. Unfortunately, despite strides that continue to be made by theatre companies across the globe, there remains a dearth of strong roles for women, genderqueer folx, and BIPOC actors in the theatrical cannon. And the number of these roles that have good audition monologues attached to them (monologues that are between thirty and sixty seconds that have strong wants and beginnings/middles/ends) are even fewer.  BUT no matter who you are, you can write a monologue that showcases YOU.

3. You Can Kind of Tailor Your Monologue To The Role You’re Going For

When actors have to find monologues that fit a specific time frame, a specific type, a specific style, AND happen to be contained in a play or monologue book they’ve had the time to read, they often have to take what they can get. This might mean auditioning with a peppy monologue when the role you’re up for is a little darker, or auditioning with a uncle’s monologue when the role you want is a father. Again, writing your own monologue can provide a solution to this problem. If the role you want (or are up for) is an aging volleyball star with a dry sense of wit who just so happens to fight crime at night…. well, you can write a monologue about a sarcastic female sports star or superhero. And you can do it whether or not a monologue like this exists in any play you’ve ever read.

4. You Don’t Run The Risk of Doing A Monologue That Another Actor Did In The Same Audition Room

There is absolutely nothing worse than finding the perfect audition monologue, rehearsing the hell out of it, getting to an audition, and finding out that another actor is doing the EXACT SAME MONOLOGUE. Of course, if you’ve been there (and I have too), you know that doing the same monologue as someone else doesn’t necessarily disqualify you for a role, but it does shake your confidence and put you in the mindset of comparing yourself to someone else, which is a tough mental spot to recover from. If you write your own monologue, you ensure that neither you nor the audition panel will compare you to anyone they’ve seen do it before: because they’ll never have seen anyone do it before.  

5. It’s Fun!

I think that a lot of people who choose theatre as a career (myself included) can occasionally lose sight of what drew us here in the first place: we get to pretend for a living. We get to create worlds and explore ideas and be people we’re not or people we REALLY ARE but don’t always get to be in our day-to-day lives. Looking at theatre as job, we can sometimes lose sight of that, and writing your own monologue (even if it’s a monologue that you do hope will lead to some sort of financial gain someday) can be a way to rediscover it: to create a world that you get to make and then live in. Maybe it’s a world that looks a lot like the one you’re dealing with right now, or maybe it’s even a world in which you get to be a polar bear. Either way, you can have fun with it!

Of course, I am not advocating writing your own monologue for every single audition out there. An audition for a Shakespeare play, for example, still probably warrants choosing a monologue from another Shakespeare play. However, in many cases, having an original monologue in your back pocket can be a secret weapon that just might help you land the role you want.