Published on May 25th, 2010 | by Biz Books
Guest Post: “From Behind the Table: General Auditions Part 3A – Monologue Choices and Presentation” by Jack Paterson
“Choose a piece that you love…Choose a piece that you relate to…Choose a piece that perhaps espouses things in which you believe…It is also smart to choose a piece spoken by a character that you could conceivably play” Michael Shamata, Artistic Director, The Belfry Theatre (Victoria)
Most general auditions will ask for 2 contrasting monologues. I’m struck every time with the question “What does that mean?” even when it’s me putting it on the call notice.
What we are looking for is two different performance qualities. In classical theatre it’s easier – Comedy vs. Tragedy, Prose vs. Verse. In modern theatre where the lines between the two blur, think along the lines of Character Role vs. Straight Role, Dramatic vs. Comic, Naturalism vs. Stylized, Still vs. Movement (can you walk and talk at the same time). Are they thematically different? Do they help demonstrate your range?
It’s always good to get a second opinion on whether the monologues actually showcase different skill sets or sides of yourself.
From the Season or Not from the Season:
I suggest choosing monologues where a character is similar to a character in the season rather than the character itself. Most AD’s and directors will have a strong idea of their lead characters in their head that you can’t possibly live up to. The best bet is to showcase those qualities in yourself and plant the idea rather than trying to fit into a box you can’t see. Also, everybody else will be doing them. You may pull off the audition fantastically but after the 10th time the monologue has been heard the Auditoners will be tuning out. When the auditions are called for the show itself they may then ask you to read for the character.
From the Internet and Film:
In general internet and film monologues don’t fly in theatre auditions. Most AD’s have an aversion to them so best leave them alone.
Theatre for Youth Audiences:
“Books are fine as long as the piece has some dramatic action on it. Again, I’m looking for acting ability. I would also consider looking at adult plays with young characters in them, as long as the speech has some meat on the bones.” Pablo Felices-Luna, Artistic Director, Carousel Players (St.Catharines, ON)
The biggest complaint one hears from TYA practitioners is inappropriate monologues. Take a look at the age ranges the company performs for. If it’s 3-5 year olds, ya might not want to do that David Mamet or Neil Labute monologue you’ve been dying to try out. Fit the monologue to the company.
One of the great things about Theatre for Youth Audiences is a lot of it is based on literature. One can always pull out a favorite storybook from childhood and build a monologue. TYA also tends to use a lot of wonderful theatricality – if you juggle, do acrobatics, clown work, etc this is a place to showcase it.
For a teen-based issue-company like Greenthumb Theatre in Vancouver you want a different approach. Hit their webpage and see what kinds of characters are usually brought to the company’s stage then take a look at any adult material that includes characters in the right age range.
About Jack Paterson
Jack is a Canadian director/ actor who is currently in Toronto for Canadian Stage’s BASH! Residency. He is a graduate of The Circle in the Square Theatre School in New York. Directing credits include Mad Duck’s Jessie nominated productions of Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, Carousel Theatre’s The Hobbit and The Odyssey (winner Outstanding Production Jessie Richardson Award), The Bardathon’s Henry 6 Parts 2 & 3 and The Presentation House hit The Real Inspector Hound. He is the recipient of the Ray Michaels Award for Outstanding Body of Work by an Emerging Director and been nominated for four Outstanding Direction Jessie Richardson Awards.
Most recently he was the Artist in Residence at the Centaur Theatre and directed The Love of Don Perlimplin for Belisa in his Garden for the Shaw Festival’s Neil Munro Directors Project.
A tremendous thank you to all the artistic directors, directors and actors who shared their insights for this blog.