Welcome to my Blog!

Welcome to my Blog!
I created it so that I could share acting tips with you; things I've learned over the years, working on set, teaching classes, coaching actors, auditioning actors, etc.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Increasing Importance of Monologues

I have always thought it important for actors to work on monologues.  In fact, I've often said in class that all actors should have four monologues - ready to perform - at all times:
  1. a classical comedy
  2. a classical drama
  3. a contemporary comedy, and
  4. a contemporary drama
However, in the last year or two, having a monologue has become much more important for actors.

Here's why: Nearly every time one of my clients books a network TV show or major motion picture (and this happens pretty regularly) they go through several steps.  After their call-back the director and producers decide to cast them.  This does NOT mean that they are cast.  The next step is to get the "OK" from the Studio or Network.  This essentially means that before the decision of the director and producers (usually these are working professionals that spend thousands of hours on set) is final, their choice of actor is sent to "Network/Studio" (aka the 29 year-old suit that has never spent an hour working on set in his life, but passed the Bar exam so must know about acting!).  The Suit then wants to know if there is "anything else" they can see of this actor besides their audition tape. 

This brings up the subject of an actor's "reel".  Now let me be perfectly clear about what an actor's reel is. Contrary to popular belief it is NOT just a collection of odd acting jobs you have done.  An actor's reel is more than that.  Much more.  Your reel is a collection of clips from projects you were hired to do, that SHOWS WHAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF AS AN ACTOR.  If it just shows different clips of you pointing and saying "they went that-a-way" it isn't going to convince ANYONE that you are the actor they want in a given role.

So, if you have several scenes from network TV shows and/or major motion pictures, in which you have large roles that show you off well, then you may not need to have monologues on tape. Right now.  Although in a few years, if you don't keep booking good jobs, you may need some then.

For the rest of you, doesn't it make sense to have one or two monologues (in which you ROCK!) available online for industry peeps to see, when they are thinking about casting you in a project?!  Of course it does.  When that studio Suit is wanting to see some tape on you in order to decide whether or not to cast you (and I've seen them say "No" many times after the director and producers have made their choice) you want them to see you acting in a role that shows your true potential, not a series of one and two line appearances.

And here's another consideration.  More and more casting is being done through online video submissions and the same thing applies.  After seeing your audition, it helps those casting to be able to see you acting in something else.  Something easily accessible that shows what you are capable of.  So what are you waiting for?!  Put a monologue on tape and upload it to your website (or YouTube or Hulu).

But one thing before you do.  And I know you'll think this is obvious but, judging from what I've seen, it's not.  Please make sure it's GOOD!  Never upload video of yourself acting unless it's really good. Really good.  First do your monologue in class or hire a coach to make it as good as it can possibly be.  Then shoot it in a medium close shot with a decent camera (iPhones are ok to shoot a video audition on, in a pinch, but not for a monologue that is going to live online indefinitely) and keep shooting until you get a take you are really happy with.  And remember, this is meant to be a monologue not "reel".  So don't use costumes, sets, or props that aren't absolutely necessary.  You are not trying to make this look like it's Reel.  You won't fool anyone.  Have neutral clothing that suggests the character and a neutral background (no unmade beds or messy closets in the background!)  So I ask you again, What are you waiting for?! Go choose your monologue and get it up online. 

Oh, and I'm available to do Skype coaching, if you need it... ;) 


  1. This is fantastic, Scott. And TIMELY. For many years, I had a number of monologues in my back pocket for theater auditions. And, this week, I was literally putting together four monologues to bring that up to speed. But I never thought of taping them. Great thinking!

  2. Great blog Scott. It is useful and appreciated.