Tips for Creating a Quick and Dirty Devised Monologue

quick and dirty devised monologue

If you’ve read our previous blog entries about creating a devised monologue, you might be wondering: “But how can I make one of these by myself in my bedroom with only my laptop?” We’ve received some fantastic audition videos for our devised production that have been filmed by students sitting at their desks, recording their monologue on their laptop webcam. Here’s what to remember if you’re going this route:

1. Content matters.

If you’re performing a monologue with no blocking, then know that we’re really going to be focusing in on your content. You’re working from this quote by Wendell Wilkie: “I believe in America because we have great dreams -- and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true.” Make sure that you have a strong point to make about that statement. Do we have the opportunity to make our dreams come true in America? Your monologue will be most effective if you come down strongly on either the “yes” or “no” side of the argument.

2. Have a clear character.

Make sure that you're portraying a clear character in your monologue. Who are you? A teacher who struggles to get his low-income students interested in college? A refugee who fled to the United States so that he could escape an oppressive government? A union auto worker who’s wondering if her job’s going to be taken over by a machine in the next few years? A single mother who struggles to support herself in a society without enough welfare programs but who has high hopes for her child’s future? Try thinking about the situation from someone else’s perspective!

3. Pick a clear scene partner.

Make sure that you’re not just talking to “the audience.” Your monologue will be much stronger if you’re directing it to a clear (invisible) scene partner. Maybe the teacher’s talking to a student who’s thinking about dropping out of high school, the refugee’s talking to the TSA official who’s turning her away at the border, the union auto worker’s talking to her employer at her annual performance review, and the single mother’s talking to a married (and solidly middle-class) mother at the park. See how all of those monologues became more interesting just by adding in a clear scene partner? That’s because now they all . . .

4. Have a clear objective.

The teacher wants to get his student to stay in school. The refugee wants to get into the country. The union auto worker wants to keep her job. The single mother wants someone to tell her she's a good parent. You make your point about the quote through how all of these situations are resolved. For example, if the teacher is unable to persuade his student to stay in school, you might be making the point that there’s a huge portion of the US population (low-income students and their families) whose dreams will frequently be out-of-reach.

5. Have your monologue memorized.

Make sure that you have your material memorized! Just because you’re sitting at your desk, delivering a monologue that you wrote into your laptop webcam, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know every single line inside and out.

6. You can still add in movement!

Just because you’re performing your entire monologue from a chair doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate movement. Check out this monologue from DV8’s production, Can We Talk About This?. This actor integrates hand motions that compliment what she’s talking about. Make sure that there’s a purpose behind the movements that you’re adding. (Are they to emphasize a point? Are they to clarify something for the audience? Are they to build a mood?) Sometimes the most creative work is made when you’re working within the tightest limitations!

Ready to share your quick and dirty devised monologue with us? Apply to NTSA today!

Posted on Mar 02, 2018 in Auditions  

Share this post

Back to Posts