Basically, classical monologues are monologues taken from literature from the classical era. Some people also call this type a Shakespeare monologue. Many people find these monologues to be some of the most difficult since they are done in older English and the characters are sometimes a bit more complex. However, it is important that you realize that they include more than just Shakespeare and his writings.
More than Just Shakespeare
When many actors think of classical monologues, the first name that comes to mind is Shakespeare. Of course, while Shakespeare definitely has penned some of the world’s most famous monologues (To be, or not to be, anyone?), there are many other classical writers who have written amazing monologues, including Shaw, Moliere, Chekhov, and Marlowe.
In fact, when you audition using a classical monologue, you will usually find it better to audition with a lesser-known one. Some of the most common monologues, especially those by Shakespeare, have been done over and over again and become mundane. So, consider going with something fresh that is not used as frequently.
Choosing Your Monologue
Of course, when you are choosing a classical or Shakespeare monologue to perform, you want to be sure that you pick the best one for you. Your monologue should show casting directors why you are a great choice for the show or play, so you need to catch their eye. The following tips should help you pick out a great classical monologue to perform.
Consider Something Fresh
Directors have seen some monologues over and over again, so go with something that has not been done before. Or, if you do choose something that has been performed quite a bit, go with a new take on the character.
Be Aware of Time Restraints
If you only have 2-3 minutes to perform your monologue, then you need to be sure that you pick out one that will fit into that time frame. You don’t want to get the proverbial hook from the back of the stage.
Pick the Right Type of Character
When choosing a classical monologue, you need to be sure that you pick a character whose age and gender work for you.
Before You Perform
Performing a monologue can be quite tough, so you need to be prepared. The following are a few tips that are important to remember before you actually perform the monologue.
Read the Entire Play
Always read the entire play. This is extremely important because you need to understand the entire play to appreciate the context in which the monologue is delivered, allowing you to give the best performance of your monologue. Remember, you could be asked questions about the play when you audition, and you will look rather silly if you have no idea what the casting director is talking about.
Completely Understand the Character
One reason that reading the entire play is so important is because this helps you to completely understand the character. The monologue is not delivered in a vacuum, but during the flow of the action, so you must be able to perform it like the character would in that particular moment in the play. Dig deep to understand that character completely.
Rehearse Over and Over
Practice is imperative when you are performing a classical or Shakespeare monologue. They can be difficult to perform and to memorize, so take the time to practice your monologue so you will be completely comfortable when you perform.