Where Are All the Great Monologues for Women in Theatre?

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Answered by: Rachel, An Expert in the Theater - General Category
It is a common complaint amongst actresses that good monologues for women are incredibly scarce. Finding the right monologue for that upcoming audition can be nothing short of frustrating. At times, it may feel as if there is simply nothing out there to show off one's uniqueness and talent. However, good monologues do exist for actresses, although, sometimes, not in the form one might expect.In order to find that monologue, the obvious solution is to read as many different plays as possible and set aside potential pieces. Sometimes you may even be able to find a monologue by attending a performance of a play you have never seen. Another option includes simply finding a book of monologues that are geared towards women.

However, there are a few drawbacks to those kinds of books. For one, there is a good chance you are not the only person to have read that book. One of the trickier aspects to auditioning for theatre is finding a strong monologue that the directors will not have seen over and over again. Another problem arising from the monologue book is that, out of context, it may be harder to fully understand the subtleties and movements that have brought the character up to this point. Then again, a well-worn monologue spun into something completely new and slightly out of context can turn into that perfect audition piece. Another option when trying to find strong monologues for women is to ignore gender. There are so many potential audition pieces that, while originally written for men, are fairly gender neutral. Consider one of the most famous monologues: "To be or not to be." Is there anything about Hamlet's renowned soliloquy that suggests the character is a young man? Not to suggest that one should actually audition with that particular piece, but there are no rules that keep men and women from using monologues outside of their gender. Even a piece that discusses a romantic relationship should not be automatically discounted. After all, theatre, as in the real world, is not strictly heterosexual.

You may also consider constructing a monologue out of an exchange of dialogue. This is not to say that you should perform all of one character's lines while giving silence for the imaginary second to respond. Instead, put all or some of the dialogue together and edit it into a cohesive monologue. The trick to making this work, however, is to be sure that the piece flows well and makes sense as a monologue. It is not advisable to pull pieces of dialogue from all over the script into one paragraph. A monologue for an audition should really be about one thing and, even when using this option, it is wise to keep it simple.

If you still cannot find that perfect monologue, another possibility includes writing one for yourself. In writing your own audition piece, you can control the words exactly how you want and try to tailor it to your own strengths. While this option is valid, it can be very problematic. For starters, you must be very sure that your writing skills are up to the task. You should also take into consideration how you are going to introduce your monologue in the audition. Should the actress tell the director that she wrote the piece herself? How is this going to reflect upon the actress if the director assumes that she must have written her own monologue because she could not perform any other? Writing a monologue is a distinct possibility that can be quite rewarding to the actress, but a possibility that requires careful consideration.

The above options are merely suggestions on how to help actresses deal with the frustrating task of finding great monologues for women. Be aware that there will occasionally be directors who do not care for experimenting with monologues in this way and would prefer to see the piece performed by the appropriate person.

However, what it ultimately comes down to is that the audition is meant to show off the actress, not the monologue. Most directors would rather see a stellar performance with a mediocre, common monologue than an average performance with a beautifully obscure one. Sure, sometimes the right monologue will catch the director's eye. However, actors and actresses should always remember that what matters most in the audition is themselves.

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