How to perform a monologue
How to perform a monologue
A monologue is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a 'long speech by one actor in a play or film, or as part of a theatrical or broadcast programme'. It has its roots in the Greek 'monologos', which means 'speaking alone'.
The world of theatre is rich with the monologue, and it's likely you'll be required to perform one at some point in your career, perhaps for an audition, to meet entrance requirements to drama school or during your first real-world production.
On the stage, monologues can be everything: funny, poignant, dark, manic. But they should always be memorable. If you’re preparing to deliver a monologue for the first time, here are some things to think about.
Pick one that speaks to you
Shakespeare's canon is packed with beautiful monologues, but don't just reach for the first one you see. Nor should you necessarily Google 'theatre monologues' and see what comes up. Is there something you've read that really speaks to you? Why not go with that – you're bound to deliver it with meaning.
Know where the monologue sits in the context of the play
If you simply rip a monologue out of a play without reading the rest of it, you won't gain a full appreciation of its meaning.
Make sure you immerse yourself in the full text of the play, understanding the monologue within the overarching narrative. This will help you pick out nuances you would otherwise have missed.
Think about other voices
A monologue involves speaking alone but, as the quote at the top of this piece shows, it always involves other voices too. Ask yourself:
- Who am I speaking to?
- How will what I am about to say make them feel?
- How will this affect me during the rest of the play?.
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Monologue examples from our students
Familiarising yourself with performing a monologue is a vital part of being an actor; you'll need to prepare them for most auditions, including to get into drama school.
Take a look at these monologues by our third year actors to get a sense of how far they have come in three years of training - you may even pick up some tips for your own audition!
Viewer discretion advised: Some videos contain strong language and adult themes.
Mara is a dual American and German citizen living in London. She graduated from the BRIT School of performing arts before completing her training at RBC. After graduating Mara signed to Jewell Wright Ltd in the UK, and Nicolosi & Co in New York. She has recently played the role of Mekeda in educational series 'Berlin Beats' for BBC Bitesize and is now based in New York, where she will be auditioning during pilot season.
Birmingham born Shobat appeared in Trojan Horse at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which was named as the third best show overall. The play also won the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award and a Scotsman Fringe First award. Based on real-life events that saw several Birmingham schools being investigated following claims of ‘hardline' Muslim teachers and governors plotting to control them, Trojan Horse depicts a community torn apart by racial division, British values and the culture of the counter-terrorism strategy known as Prevent.
Originally from Hong Kong, Nicole is signed with Simon & How Associates. She has recently starred in fellow graduate Eric Mok's original play British Born Chinese, which was part of the John Thaw Initiative Graduate Season 2019 at the Actor's Centre.
Chloe is from Wales and has signed with Kew Management. She says "I graduated feeling like a transformative, confident actor. But I gained more than skills relating to acting, I grew as a person and gained so many transferable skills that I know will stay with me for life."
After graduating Muyiwa signed to Narrow Road Agency. Her favourite moment of training was her part in the play Holy Day by Andrew Bovrell; "The process and darkness of the piece was right up my street and I was also challenged in ways that I’m so grateful for now."
During his training, Sam represented RBC at the Sam Wanamaker Festival at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. It was there that he got noticed and signed by Actorum agency, and his first professional contract since graduation was touring with BlackBox Theatre Company in a First World War play called Bully Beef & Whizzbangs. In 2019 Sam toured in a production of Romeo and Juliet with the Young Shakespeare Company.
Chris appeared at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in highly commended play Our Boys which was ranked 63rd out of more than 1,600 shows and also won a Derek Award for Best Overall Show. He is currently preparing for an Irish Showcase in Dublin, which involves working alongside fellow graduates from other major drama schools in the UK and he is signed with agency Cowley Knox and Guy.
Originally from South Africa, Taona is currently signed with Ashrow Agency. Since graduating he has been assistant director of a show called Water Bread and Salt in London, based on Mandela’s published writings.