Choosing a Monologue – the Podcast

At last, I think I have figured out the system!  If you’d like to hear, rather than read, the blog on Choosing a Monologue, here it is:

Now, if you want to hear The Master talking about film acting, and giving some absolutely fantastic tips, here is Michael Caine being interviewed for The Film Programme, BBC Radio 4.

Choosing a Monologue

I’ve prepared my first podcast, however, I can’t – as yet – figure out how to get it up onto the site. So, here is the gist:

Choosing monologues to perform for an audition is a bit like choosing a meal at a Chinese Restaurant.  When there are so many monologues to choose from, and you have no idea where to start, it can be a daunting prospect.

So, here are some basic rules to get you started:

1 – choose playwrights you admire and respect.  It is much more satisfying to work with good quality writing, and your auditioner will appreciate your good taste as well.

2 – for a general audition, or an audition for an acting school, choose a character the same age and gender as yourself.  You may think it an interesting challenge to present a female Hamlet or a male Ophelia, and it is, but an audition such as this in not the place to do it.

3 – do not attempt to do an accent unless you are very very skillful at it. I cannot stress this enough. Accents are for when you are auditioning for a specific role which requires is, and when the director has asked you to prepare the accent.  For a general audition, and for the acting colleges, they want to hear you, not a fake sounding voice.

3 – read the play.  An audition monologue is really a scene from a play, and you cannot do yourself justice if you don’t know the context, the background and the journey of your character.  Often you may be attracted to a monologue, only to discover that you are entirely mistaken in what you assume to be the context. It is easy to do a superficial reading which can lead you up the garden path. So read the whole play – and if you can’t get a copy of the play, don’t do that monologue. Having read the play, see if you can find one point of connection with the life, or circumstances, or behaviour of the character you are thinking of playing. If you can find just one, you can play that character.

Of course, none of this actually helps you to be sure that you have chosen the perfect monologue.  That’s because nothing can guarantee such a thing, because there is no such thing!

So, here’s the thing: you will need to work on more than one monologue. Actually, you need to work on about 4, at any given time. So, if you know which plays you like, and which characters you would like to play (given half a chance), pick two (at least) which offer some kind of contrast, for example:

a) period piece / contemporary play

b) comic role / dramatic role

c) verse drama / prose

d) upper class / working class

e) outgoing / introspective

f) practical person / dreamer

g) decent, admirable person / cruel, mean-spirited person

I’m sure you get the idea. This will narrow down your choices.

There are loads of books with monologues for men, and for women, and there are many websites offering monologues as well. Always ensure that you choose a monologue from a play, rather than a specially written speech. You need the resource of the complete play to help you build up layers of experience and relationships for your character, to help you find their place in their world. This is an excellent resource, giving details of the publication from which the monologues have been extracted. However…


Be careful when choosing a play in translation (such as Chekhov, Aeschylus, Calderon etc). Check the date of publication. It will give you an indication as to when the translation was made. Sometimes, an earlier translation can be more playable than a later one, but it is always good policy to investigate a more recent translation, to see if it sits more comfortably,

cast yourself in the role, and start exploring the language of the monologue

Why train?

Acting is truth. Acting is the illusion of truth.

Acting looks so easy. Is it madness, or reality?

Unlike the special effects of computerized technology, a live performer doesn’t have obvious upfront cost. All you need is the brass neck to get up there and do your stuff. Right?

Anyone can perform, sing, give a speech or dance without specialized training. If the reason is pure self expression, that that is reason enough to do it, but not reason enough to expect a paying audience. If the reason is to communicate ideas, tell stories, share experiences, entertain or – dare I say it – enlighten, then an element of skill is required.

Imagine coming away from a performance with the foremost thought in your mind: “what a good actor ‘so-and-so’ is!” What did that actor communicate to you? That he/she is a good actor! Now imagine coming out of a theatre or cinema, or turning away from the television and thinking about the characters, their lives, the ideas and issues they had to deal with.

What you saw in that case WAS almost certainly good acting.

Performers need to train their bodies, voices, ears, brains, hearts and souls so that they can give us the illusion that they really are a whole host of different characters, living vastly different lives and experiencing huge passions and concepts which we relate to, and from which we gain insight into our own lives and experiences.

The stamina, flexibility, growth and self awareness gained in the process of such training wouldn’t do the rest of us any harm either.

Flloyd Kennedy

(first published in West End Neighbourhood News. Issue No 72. February 2000).

I'm back, and I'm blogging

Well, the things you forget…

And now, for some tips on how to remember – LINES!

Help comes from unexpected places, and today I found some excellent tips for memorizing lines at a site called Real Age, which is devoted to healthy living. It was suggested that creative activities are good for your health, and offered these 10 Steps to Poetry Memorization.

Check it out, you will find it ties in with all the work we do, from examining and exploring every word at the first reading (“meaning helps to make memories”), to getting on your feet (well ok, it doesn’t ACTUALLY say that, but we know better, eh?) and saying it out loud.

So, now that I have remembered that I have a blog to write, I’ll work at remembering it more frequently.

See you at a workshop some time soon!



Brooklyn Workshop : The Shakespeare Shake: 13 December 09

Playing with Shakespeare and allowing Shakespeare to play (with) you
Taught by Master Teachers Flloyd Kennedy & Aole T. Miller
Studio 5, Brooklyn,

Saturday, December 13th
11am – 4pm
This workshop will incorporate Fitzmaurice Voicework, Aole’s Archetype Masks, and Flloyd Kennedy’s signature Archetypal Character Development. Bring your favorite speeches from Shakespeare, anything from monologues to sonnets, and spend fab, fun, physical five hours exploring the sounds, the tastes, the smells, the images and the movement of Shakespeare’s language. This will be a great opportunity to work graduate school classical monologues.
Fitzmaurice Voicework work is one of the best voice techniques for getting actors out of their heads, and into their bodies. In Fitzmaurice Voicework, there are a series of positions inspired by the work of Wilhelm Reich, yoga, and shiatsu designed to activate the human body to breath and energy, to allow and encourage breathing patterns to change size, direction, placement, and rhythm, as required by both the demands of the body and of the thought to be expressed (text). As a result, actors open up to what is happening with the body rather than trying to make something happen that they think ought to be happening. It also allows actors to:
*Expand the range of what can be experienced and expressed through breath and language
*Become more emotionally available to heightened text
*Speak expressively even when nervous or emotional
*Strengthen the voice and reduce vocal fatigue
Masks show the important connection between Body and Voice. The Greek word personae means Mask, the personae was a projected image through the voice. Almost everyone at one point in his or her life is conscious of their voice and the sounds that the body makes, and it is these sounds that actually aid in the development of human character. The power that exudes through the deep connection of body and voice is easily accomplished through masks. Aole will incorporate mask work when working on freeing the voice’s pitch range, the physical center of character and deepening the experience of vocal transformation within character and text.
Archetypes are familiar, yet heightened ways of being human, from which we recognize friends and enemies, dream figures, iconographic and mythic ideals. Unlike stereotypes, which are fixed, unvarying, oversimplified conceptions of ways of being, Archetypes allow the actor to manifest the intrinsic instability which lies at the core of life and which the actor strives to embody in performance, essentially alive and transformative. Playing with Archetypes is mask work without the mask, physically and vocally liberating, providing the foundation for developing truthful and credible characters.
AOLE T. MILLER a Certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework is the Creative Director of STUDIO 5, Executive Director of the International Antonin Artaud Fringe Theatre Festival, and the Producing Director of The New Moon Rep. in Brooklyn, New York. He has been an actor-director-writer-teacher in the United States, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, and Bali, Indonesia since 1992 and has been Director of the Bali Conservatory since 2002. He is the first African American Ceremonial Mask Dancer of Bali and the first teacher to bring Fitzmaurice Voicework to Denmark. He coached Michelle Williams for her Academy Award nominated performance in Ang Lee’s movie Brokeback Mountain. He teaches Mask Work, Fitzmaurice Voicework, Michael Chekhov, Viewpoints, and Grotowski’s concepts of the physical container and the plastiques for character development. He is a member of VASTA and is on the faculties of Chautauqua Theatre Company. He has taught at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Yale University, The Actors Center, Wayne State (MFA), The New School (MFA), SUNY Purchase College, University of Southern California, The Bill Esper Studio, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, The National Theatre Institute, Howard University, Western Michigan University, The School for Film and Television, and the Michael Chekhov Conference 2002. Directing credits: Proof (New Moon Rep), I Kreon (New Moon Rep), Voices of Juarez (New York Fringe 2003). He is currently he is translating Jean Genet’s The Maids and The Blacks and developing Romeo and Juliet, which he will be directing in Perth 2009. He holds a B.F.A. in theatre from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Flloyd Kennedy is an actor, director, voice and acting coach and who has spent many years traveling the world, exploring different performance techniques and ways of creating theatre (including The Original Shakespeare Co). She has performed in, and directed Shakespeare productions from Scotland (as artistic director of Golden Age Theatre) to Brisbane, Australia, working with professional actors, students and community and youth groups.  Flloyd has taught voice skills, verse speaking and Shakespeare at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (Glasgow Scotland), QUT (Queensland Australia), Rutgers University (NJ USA), University of Otago (Dunedin NZ) and La Salle University (Singapore). Directing credits include All’s Well That Ends Well (Young Actors Co, Qld), Pericles (Golden Age Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe), The Winter’s Tale (Qld Shakespeare Ensemble), A Life in the Theatre (Trocadero Productions), Iphigenia in Tauris (Golden Age Theatre), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Golden Age Theatre, Mayfest, Edinburgh Festival Fringe). Flloyd is researching “A Theory of the Voice in Performance” (PhD) at the University of Queensland, and provides voice and acting training through her private studio Being in Voice. She will appear in her latest play, “The Fall of June Bloom: A Modern Invocation” at !Metro Arts in Brisbane in 2009.
To register contact:
Aole T. Miller
Flloyd Kennedy