Write your own monologue

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					                               THE ACTOR’S AUDITION

An actor is a magician. He:
       - transports us to another time and place
       - makes us believe he is someone else
       - makes us care about that person and what happens to him
While we are watching, we forget about ourselves and our own concerns. This is truly a form of

When the actor wants to get hired, he has to audition.

There are four different types of auditions:
       1. When the actor appears alone with a monologue of his choice
       2. When he reads a scene with another person
       3. When he performs a song with an accompanist
       4. When he is interviewed and there is no set format

When you audition with a monologue of your choice, divide your appearance into four parts.
They are:

           “The person you are is a thousand times more interesting than
            the best actor you could ever hope to be.”
           – Konstantin S. Stanislavski. Russian director, teacher, and author

- Audition audience = prospective employers. They’ll be hiring you, not the character you
portray in your monologue. When a character in a play makes his first entrance, it creates a
lasting impression. Everything that follows either adds to or modifies this initial impression.
Your audition is a play about you, so make the most of your entrance.

The first time your prospective employers see you is when you come into their sight line. There
will be no curtain or special lighting to help. Walk in slowly, with a sense of purpose. If you
enter too quickly, it will look like you are nervous and in a hurry to get your appearance over
with. If your audition is in a room, do not shake hands.

As you enter, decide immediately where the center of the stage or playing area is located. When
you have reached it, remain silent for a moment. This is the best way to get the attention of
your audition audience.

Your first communication must be as yourself. A simple hello goes a long way. Your hello
should include everyone. If you only look at the author, the director will worry that you will
never pay attention to him if he hires you. If you address only the director, the author and
producers will feel left out, etc.
After your hello, introduce yourself. Give your name, even if doing so means repeating it after
someone has announced you. There is a difference between your saying your name and someone
else’s saying it. The repetition will have a dramatic effect.

After giving your name, have something prepared to say. It should be only two or three
sentences, and you need to know the exact words you will use. Be original.

By taking the time to communicate at this point in your audition, you tell your prospective
audience that you are confident. You also focus their attention on you and create anticipation
for what you will do next.

Another important reason for appearing as yourself is that your prospective employers are not
looking just for a talented actor. If they hire you, there will be a long period of rehearsals,
rewrites, and previews. Your relationship with your employers will be like a partnership or a
marriage. Your prospective employers need to know as much as possible about what you will be
like to work with. They need to know if you:
        - can work with other actors
        - will have a temper tantrum if one of your lines or scenes is cut
        - are intelligent and imaginative and sensitive to other people
        - work well under pressure

If you enter the audition already “in character,” as the person in your monologue, your audition
audience will never find out whether you have any of these qualities. Moreover, your
prospective employers have never met you. If you enter as Lady Macbeth, they will think that’s
your real personality.

Even though you cannot display all your positive qualities immediately by yourself, you can give
a sense of your personality and imagination by taking a moment to share something of yourself.
Theatre is a collaborative art. You will be creating with other people, usually in difficult
circumstances. Your audition is also a difficult circumstance because there is so much at stake
for everyone. If you show your prospective employer you have the ability to rise above the
difficulty, they will begin to realize you are the kind of person with whom they want to work.

NEXT- Introduce the character you are going to portray in your monologue.
     - You can say something general about your character, such as “This is from Neil
        Simon’s Last of the Red-Hot Lovers. An unhappily married woman has been rejected
        by a prospective lover.” Or you can mention your character specifically, as in “The
        piece I will perform is from Mean Streets. Johnny has just missed a payment to the
     - The information you must communicate is the problem confronting your
        character. Your audition audience has not spent two hours getting to know your
        character the way the audience in a theatre would. They need to be brought up to date
        so they can identify immediately with what your character wants.
     - You need to know and rehearse the exact words you will use for this purpose. Your
        audition is a play about you, and how you introduce the character you will portray is
        part of the script. If you announce that you will be performing a scene in which
           “Ruth is talking to her sister Joan about her feelings for her boyfriend Bob,” you will
           not be arousing any interest in what you are about to do. However, you might say, “A
           woman just found out her husband committed adultery.”

Sharing information about your character and the situation he finds himself in also allows you to
demonstrate another aspect of your acting talent- your ability to analyze a scene and a role. By
communicating with your prospective employers before beginning your monologue, you
introduce them to the most important character in your audition: yourself.

       PART II: Becoming Someone Else- pause after the introduction, transform into the
       PART III: Performing the Monologue
       PART IV: Taking Your Bow- or transition out of the character. Wait to see if any one
       asks you to perform another piece, perform the same piece differently, or ask you any
       questions. DO NOT exit the audition space until told to do so.

    - Avoid gestures, which often come from having no ease with the language.
    - Don’t use the ordinary quality of language if it is essentially poetic.
    - Avoid using props.
    - Choose the area which is true for the circumstances.
    - It is not good to move around too much in a monologue; therefore, use a limited
    - Find the rhythm of the monologue, as the playwright always creates a rhythm.
    - Costume can contribute to or detract from the effectiveness of a monologue.

       In every monologue one must seek a meaning larger than the facts of the situation
       suggest. The facts ground it. The temptation is always great to start with the words, but
       this is a bad habit.

       If the actor is provoked to go to the words first, he may lose the theme, putting it on a
       common level rather than the higher level that is needed.

              Exercise: “Monologue Paraphrase”
              Find a monologue and paraphrase it. Work on the background.

       Lifting the Idea:
       As soon as you can lift the idea and words from the page, you are in the second stage of
       rehearsal. At this stage, especially, you must guard against the temptation to memorize,
       for memorization blocks real understanding. As the text becomes more familiar and you
       are awakened to the style, ideas, and the playwrights meaning, the words gradually
       belong to you.

       Realizing the Play:
       When you are confident in the interpretation of your part and that it has helped the author
       in realizing the play, you have made your contribution to the play
                            PERFORM A MONOLOGUE
Your assignment is to choose a character that you will portray in a monologue. You can either
write a monologue for the character, transcribe a monologue from a film or TV show, or obtain a
copy of a monologue from a book, script, or the Internet. You will also need to complete a
Character Analysis for your character. If you are interested, you may also write a first-person
synopsis of your character’s life, from before he or she enters the story and beyond. (Jean Luc
Picard sample bio)

      Please be advised that monologue content must be appropriate for our classroom. See me
       if you feel your monologue has any questionable material.

Date you will perform: ______________________

Full Name: __________________________         Character’s Name: _______________________

          Please include “real” feedback below the chart
COMPONENT                                                         (20) (15)      (10)   (5)
- Has appropriate introduction (name, monologue description)
- Learned lines verbatim
 - Maintained character while on stage
 - Motivated movement (no distracting smiles, gum, etc.)
 - Projected emotions with proper restraint
 - Maintained the illusion of the first time (actor is energized)
 - Good diction
 - Correct pronunciation
 - Proper phrasing & use of pauses
 - Appropriate rate, pitch, quality, force
 - Projection
 - Appropriate posture & walk for character
 - Appropriate gestures (no boring standing or rocking)
 - Appropriate facial expression (hair off of the face)
 - Applied proper stage technique/body posture (no backs to
   audience or hiding)
LATE PENALTY (20 points each day)

TOTAL: ______________________                      FEEDBACK:
                      STELLA ADLER- CHARACTER STUDY
Continuity is vital to the flow of an actor’s performance. To give your performance continuity,
you must imagine the background of your character’s life. We will spend some time learning
how to create a history for your character.

        (from Stella Adler’s The Technique of Acting, p. 72-76)

The background should lead you to your character. Before you can live convincingly in the
present on the stage, you must have a fully realized past. You must imagine in detail the early
life, family history, educational training, professional experience, and personal relationships of
the character you are playing. The first thing an actor should do when preparing a character is to
give his character this sort of background or history.

Character Elements:
       - Carefree                          -   Reliable                      -   Conscientious
       - Outgoing                          -   Introspective                 -   Scholarly
       - Responsible                       -   Ambitious                     -   Practical
       - Adventurous                       -   Enterprising

You find the character element in the world. You watch it and then you take that element and
put it into circumstances that are true for you. Therefore, you can draw upon the world for deep
knowledge of the character elements. By taking the character elements from life, you can
develop qualities in your acting you don’t ordinarily call upon.

Ways to find character elements:
      1. Go to the world and observe
           a. animals
           b. objects
           c. people
      2. Go to your imagination
      3. How would you physicalize the character elements you have observed?

Example: Carefree.            Let’s start with the character of the bird.
      - He lands anywhere
             a. limb of a high tree
             b. chimney
             c. lamppost
             d. bush
             e. rock
      The bird is living in his circumstances.
      The character element is carefree.
      The character element can now be used by the actor as follows:
      - EXAMPLE: a carefree boy
       -   He jumps on a bike
       -   He slides down the banister.
       -   He swings around a lamppost.
       -   He leaps over the fire hydrant.

You now have his character. The character doesn’t think twice about using his
circumstances and his character and his character element is “carefree.”

Put him in different circumstances. What would he do?
- He does something suddenly and unexpectedly.
- He jumps into the pool clothed.
- He comes in jogging clothes to a formal party.
- He goes into the kitchen when invited to a party.
- He jumps onto a bus.
- He throws his arms around his friends.

He is animated, lively, and is in continuous movement. Carefree also has:
   - Lack of logic
   - No responsibility of outside world
   - Unfixed life
   - Rhythm of aimlessness

If you are cast in a role which reliability is the chief characteristic:
    - Observe reliability in life.
    - Imagine a situation where the circumstances demand your reliability.
    - Ask yourself in what situation you would be absolutely reliable.

Having found this character element, what do you do in the circumstances you found it so
that you will not be so general? What physical activity do you do to show reliability?

Example: Meticulous:
   - The doctor, in an exam, was meticulous.
   - When he washed his hands, he was meticulous.
   - When he wrote out the prescription, he was meticulous.

I can now use this character element in acting a part.
    - My character is meticulous when he serves food.
    - He is meticulously clean when getting his clothes together.
    - He is meticulous when he gives me the telephone message.

By expanding certain personal elements, you can develop qualities that you don’t
ordinarily call upon. You will be required to play: a killer, a crook, a liar, a genius, a
god, etc. and other characters. Begin immediately by spying everywhere for the character
elements: They may not always be within your experience.
7-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting


     - Baseball player                    -   President of a         -   Mechanic
     - Ballet dancer                          large                  -   Athlete
     - Juvenile                               corporation            -   Killer
       delinquent                         -   Teenager               -   Burglar
     - Airline pilot                      -   Boxing champ           -   Genius
     - Alcoholic                          -   Housewife              -   Chef
     - Comedian                           -   Grandparent            -   Nightclub
     - Secretary                          -   Soldier                    owner
     - Cheerleader                        -   Teacher                -   Wizard
     - Fashion                            -   College student        -   Professor
       designer                           -   Taxi driver            -   Soap Opera
     - Parent                             -   Movie star                 Star
     - 1940’s gangster                    -   Disco dancer           -   Psychologist
     - Lifeguard                          -   Lawyer                 -   Archaeologist
     - Rich person                        -   God

       OTHER IDEAS: ___________________________________________


     -     honest                         -   Overly                 -   charming
     -     thrifty                            concerned              -   uptight
     -     lazy                               about hygiene          -   insane
     -     hard-working                   -   Phony                  -   compassionate
     -     forgetful                      -   Carefree               -   tough, “street
     -     Immature                       -   Intelligent                smart”
     -     Obsessive                      -   Polite                 -   shy
     -     Self-centered                  -   “old school”           -   bossy
     -     Attention-                     -   miserly                -   rude
           seeking                        -   traditional            -   arrogant
                                          -   unfaithful             -   risk-taker
                                          -   rebellious

       OTHER IDEAS: ___________________________________________

8-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting

                            CHARACTER STUDY WORKSHEET
I am required to play a(n) ______________________ My character trait is __________________

Animals or objects that display this character trait are:

_______________________              _______________________           ______________________

Examples of how one animal shows this trait are:
                1. _______________________                     3. _______________________
                2. _______________________                     4. _______________________
This character element can now be used by you, the actor:
       A(n) _____________________ _____________________
                (adjective/trait)    (role)

                1. _______________________                     3. _______________________
                2. _______________________                     4. _______________________
You now have his character. Put him/her in different circumstances: (give other examples of how
he/she demonstrates this trait.)
                1. _______________________                     3. _______________________
                2. _______________________                     4. _______________________

List other characteristics that qualify for your trait:
                1. _______________________                     3. _______________________
                2. _______________________                     4. _______________________
___________________________ is your chief trait. Complete the boxes below.

   Examples of when I                     Situations I imagine where     Physical activities that
   observe this trait in life:            circumstances demand this      show this trait:
9-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting

CHARACTER SOCIAL ASPECTS: (from Stella Adler’s Technique of Acting, p. 66-72)
Preparation of your character naturally begins with the playwright’s text. The circumstances that
the playwright gives you will make you aware of such important elements as:
        - Social Situation
        - Class
               - Working class
               - Upper Middle Class
               - Middle Class
               - Aristocracy
        - Character’s profession
        - Past of the character
        - Character elements
        - Character’s attitude toward his partner

These allow you to increase your character’s size- you cannot play Hamlet without
understanding what it is to be a prince- and to react to the circumstances around him.

Social Situation:
Social situation includes:
        - Religion
        - Education
        - Family life
        - Ethics
        - Morality
        - Money
        - Sex
        - Political situation

Every playwright writes in his own time. If a playwright of the 1970s wants to write about the
1950s or 1940s, he will have to research the period. The actor has the same problem.

In your own time, you must know these things about the past if you go back in history. When
you work on a part, it is important to think through how a character lives in his social situation.
One could not play in A Streetcar Named Desire without knowing the cultural and social
position of the South in American history, without knowing, for instance, that in Southern family
life there is a fear of mixed blood.

It is important for the actor to know the difference between his own class and the class of his

The Aristocracy: The aristocratic man inherits a strong physique and is in exuberant health. This
health implies war, adventure, and everything that embraces strong, free and cheerful actions.
He lives with confidence and openness. In the face of the enemy or of danger, the aristocratic
spirit displays enthusiasm, gratitude, or revenge.
10-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting

The Upper-Middle Class: The upper-middle class is a monied class and has great wealth, but it
has earned it, not inherited it. He is a man of distinction, taste, and size. As a type, the upper-
middle class is shrewd, intelligent, and powerful. Money and power go together. This class
could be called the aristocrat of the mind.

The Middle Class: We are leaving the class of deep elegance of mind and are going to the
practicality and ambition of the middle class. Middle-class thinking and behavior were infected
by an emphasis on money, not on culture. They are a class of people who think conventionally.
They are practical and ambitious and believe what somebody told them. Cunning, to a much
greater degree, is a vital condition of his survival.

The Working Class: The working class derives from the European peasant class, small farm
workers from the country, before we had modern cities and high-rise buildings. They were a
class that went right back to the land. Men and women didn’t grow old as they do now, their
work preserved them. They didn’t have arthritis. They worked together; they sang, danced,
drank and had fun together. This class is built upon the basic principle of working from the land.
It is impossible to think of this historical working community without thinking of their games
and music. Working-class people always played an instrument.

Playing a Profession:
To begin to get used to the extraordinary variety of roles an actor may be called upon to play,
ranging from the tyrant on the throne to a petty shopkeeper, the actor needs to practice playing
professions of all kinds:
       - Baker                        - Dentist                      - Policeman
       - Bank teller                  - Nurse                        - Hair Stylist
       - Florist                      - Archaeologist                - Nun
       - Doctor

The list is virtually endless. In studying character, one of the first questions to be asked is: What
is his or her profession? This must be settled before an action can be performed. For the actor,
the study of professions has a number of side benefits. You must go out into the world to study
the character and the characteristics of the professional.

       Exercise: “Profession Actions”
       Let’s start with the hair stylist, taken as a sample in your own time:
               1. What are the actions that she does?
               2. What is the costume?
               3. What are the props befitting the job?

       Bring the profession to your own home and do as much of the profession as possible.
       Practice the actions of the character that you have observed. Use the props necessary.
       The profession should affect some change in your personality.

       Keep working physically with your props. Do some activities where you have to use the
       props such as:
              - Cleaning hairbrushes
11-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting

               - Getting a tint ready
               - Arranging curlers
       Now add three more professions.
               - a tailor
               - a florist
               - a nurse
       Costume is of ultimate necessity in revealing a character’s profession. You must always
       use the costume. Don’t indicate the profession. Choose what you will wear down to your
       shoes and socks, even you underwear. This will make clear what class you are playing
       and also give you confidence. (Miss Congeniality)

          (from Stella Adler’s The Technique of Acting, p. 102-114)

       Paraphrase the ideas that you have read and then the idea will become a part of you. It is
not enough for you to say the words. You must understand them.

                 An actor is the person who understands that words carry ideas.

In Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, when Nora announced that she was going to leave, her husband said,
“Your first duty is to your husband and your children.” Nora said, “No, I think my first duty is
to myself.”

The discussive element entered the theatre with Ibsen. The middle class introduced accepted
values of morality, manners, and ethics that were part of a defined class society. The middle
class has only “picked-up” values. This lack of certitude means that for every question that
arises, there are two sides. In the modern theatre there is no one truth.

In modern life there are, for example, the following themes for discussion:
      For or Against:
      - the role of the woman
      - abortion
      - capital punishment
      - the institution of marriage
      - whether marriage is good for actors

       Exercise: “Discussion”
       Take one or two of these themes and discuss them with another actor. You should be
       able to live off your partner and be awakened to the theme of what you are discussing.
       The words come out of the theme.
12-Stella Adler, The Technique of Acting

The actor should be encouraged to use both points of view by reversing parts. When there is
nothing epic or universal about the discussion, it is too small for theatre. The playwright deals
with big subjects. The actor will be talking about man, about life, about society.

Since 1875, Ibsen has contributed discussive ideas- such as the role of women in society- to the
modern theatre. His ideas are still being discussed. We still talk about the Oedipal complex,
which was first explored in ancient Greek drama. The ideas that come from the stage take hold
and are enduring.

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