9 Elements: Make Your Monologue Great

What are the 9 elements that will help make your monologue great?  First off, there is no secret recipe for a great monologue other than hard work.  =)  However, I’m going to share with you 9 elements that will help steer you in the right direction with your monologue.

1. Choosing Your Monologue

It’s a smart play to have a monologue that combines serio-comedic elements because it give you a chance to express a mixture of both comedy and drama genres.  Oftentimes all you are asked to do is one monologue and by having one that displays a bit of humor and seriousness can help show your range in the eyes casting professional.

2. Not Too Long

It’s industry standard to have a monologue that is in the 1-2 minute duration.  Anything more than that and you run the risk of annoying the casting director because they have other people to see.  Be respectful of their time unless otherwise informed to perform a longer monologue.

3. Monologue With A Twist

You don’t have to go too Alfred Hitchcock but it does pay to have a monologue that may catch a casting professional by surprise. Perhaps a sudden change in the rhythm of the piece or an element of mystery that intrigues adds an interesting spin on the usual monologue.

4. Beginning, Middle, End

Be sure to give your monologue the proper evolution.  Hit your A, B and C mark…your beginning, middle and end.  Don’t leave them hanging without providing some form of finish.

5. Range

Be sure to make enough choices that give off a sense of your versatility as an actor.  You’re not expected to give a four act play or a two hour movie in 1-2 minutes but be sure to have some touch points so you don’t come off as a flatline actor.

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6. Bad Language

It’s okay to have a curse in a monologue.  No one is going to shriek and run out of the room.  But you don’t want to have every other word an expletive.  Be mindful of how raw a monologue is and you can always substitute a word for another one if you really connect to a piece.

7. Character

Even if you are a character actor, you need to be aware of what character you are bringing into the room based on the role you are going for and based on who you are in general.  Meaning, you don’t want to be going in for a 5 year old boy when you are a 28 year old man.  I know you want to work but, come on!  Sounds ridiculous, right?  You’d be surprised!  Work within your character zone.

8. Familiarity

Stay away from monologues like, “I Coulda been a contender, Charlie”…really.  There are monologues that we have come to know that are part of cinema history and although you may be able to deliver a beautiful portrait of the same role, it’s best to leave it alone for an audition.  Seek out fresh material and show what you can do with it.

9. Props

Don’t over do it with props.  If you are using something like a cigarette, be sure not to light it.  Always use your best judgement when it comes to your characters reality.  If your character uses a knife during the monologue, be sure to use a prop knife, not an actual real knife.

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Joseph Arnone

Joseph Arnone is the founding editor-in-chief of Monologue Blogger. In addition to running MB, Joseph is a filmmaker/producer who has had his films premiere at Festival de Cannes - Court Metrage and Tribeca Cinema's Big Apple Film Festival. He can be reached at Joseph@monologueblogger.com