This question comes up all the time and the answer is, there is no one-size-fits-all perfect monologue for college auditions. There are, however, some tips I can offer to help you find a good one.
Things to ask yourself when selecting your pieces:
- How are you most likely to be cast?
- What are your acting strengths?
- What playwrights do you love?
- What kind of stories are you most moved to tell?
And a few more things you should know:
- Your audition monologue should be from a published play. Do not use an unknown monologue found on the Internet, one from a movie or one you wrote yourself.
- Make sure your monologue isn’t way overdone. You can avoid frustrating the panel with the same Christopher Durang piece they have already heard six times that day. Do your homework on this one. You can search online and ask teachers/coaches/directors you trust. (That said, any monologue done really well can break all the rules so if it speaks to you and you knock it out of the park–hey! Go get ’em!)
- The monologue you select should be “active”. That means your character is clearly trying to get something.
- In general you want to avoid monologues with a lot of swear words, ones that are shocking or require an accent.
- Double check the requirements for the specific school (time limit, style of piece, etc.) and make sure your piece(s) fits the bill. Double make sure it isn’t too long. A little short is better!
It is common for schools to request one contemporary piece and one classical piece with a total time limit of around 4 minutes for both.
Here is what that means:
A contemporary piece is modern, written after 1945 or so. Playwrights like Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, John Patrick Shanley are all contemporary writers.
A classical piece is typically written before about 1800 and include playwrights like Shakespeare or Moliere. There’s a great list of playwrights here in order by nationality and year of birth and this list of classical female playwrights from the UK could be fun to check out as well.
Schools often have slightly different requirements and preferences so it is a good idea to have four to five solid monologues to cover your bases. Some colleges prefer Shakespeare for classical, some would rather see something different. Sometimes a new piece will be requested for a callback. And sometimes, they may even ask you for an additional piece on the spot to get a better sense of your work. This is why it is good to have several ready to go. They will come in handy later in your career as well!
Where do you find these monologues?
Well, there’s no better way than reading lots of plays. Start with your local libraries. Do some playwright research online and then go find their plays and read them. Talk with teachers/coaches/directors who know your work and get some ideas. Read up on some of the newest plays being produced Off-Broadway or Off-Off-Broadway and in regional theaters with good reputations. Make Google your best friend. Read reviews online. Look for age-appropriate characters in the descriptions. Subscribe to publications like American Theatre Magazine and see what’s happening in the theatre world.
Need help preparing for college auditions?
Click here to learn more about The College Audition Program