Updated: Sep 28
Picking the best monologue for your toolkit is as much about choosing the right speech as it is being able to convincingly present it.
It’s important to remember to choose a monologue based on your connection to it. Does it resonate with you? Does it showcase your skills and your talent?
Here are 5 monologues for women that cover all genres, with a little background about each of the characters. Let them inspire you to dig deep and present complex characters in a compelling way.
Some Quick Tips for Female Monologues:
● Choose an age-appropriate monologue. If you’re in your 20s, don’t attempt to play an older woman or vice versa.
● If you’re auditioning for a role, pick a character who can exemplify what you need to best demonstrate.
● Try to pick a unique monologue that won’t pit you against the actor who made the scene famous - you want to show what you can do, not how well you can mimic somebody else.
1. Classical Female Monologue Dido, Queen of Carthage - Christopher Marlowe
Character: Dido, the queen As queen of Carthage, Dido is fiercely independent and at the start of the play, adamant she will never marry. But an encounter with Cupid has caused her to fall madly in love with Aeneas.
In this scene, Aeneas has just left after announcing that he will leave to conquer Italy. So Dido resolves to hide his son, and steal his sailing equipment. She is determined that, if he would just stay in Carthage, they could live forever in the glow of her love.
Speaks not Aeneas like a conqueror?
O blessed tempests that did drive him in!
O happy sand that made him run aground!
Henceforth you shall be our Carthage gods.
Ay, but it may be, he will leave my love,
And seek a foreign land call’d Italy:
O that I had a charm to keep the winds
Within the closure of a golden ball;
Or that the Tyrrhene sea were in mine arms,
That he might suffer shipwreck on my breast,
As oft as he attempts to hoist up sail!
I must prevent him; wishing will not serve.
Go bid my nurse take young Ascanius,
And bear him in the country to her house;
Aeneas will not go without his son;
Yet, lest he should, for I am full of fear,
Bring me his oars, his tackling, and his sails.
What if I sink his ships? O, he will frown!
Better he frown than I should die of grief.
I cannot see him frown; it may not be:
Armies of foes resolv’d to win this town,
Or impious traitors vow’d to have my life,
Affright me not; only Aeneas’ frown
Is that which terrifies poor Dido’s heart:
Not bloody spears, appearing in the air,
Presage the downfall of my empery,
Nor blazing comets threaten Dido’s death;
It is Aeneas’ frown that ends my days.
If he forsake me not, I never die;
For in his looks I see eternity,
And he’ll make me immortal with a kiss.
2. Contemporary Female Monologue Mike Bartlett - Bull
Mike Bartlett is the master of writing characters who are deeply unlikeable. In this play about a toxic work environment, Isobel is trying to destroy a male co-worker.
In this scene, Isobel is trying to ruin his self-confidence in his job security, and in his own identity. She is the master of manipulation, and so plays cat and mouse in the monologue. This is a great opportunity to show the incredible damage that words can cause.
When she hears you’re out of work, her low estimation of you will drop even further. It will. I promise. She won’t be surprised. She won’t be like “oh my god he lost his job!” – she’ll be like “of course he lost his job, the fucking retard. Good job I got out when I could. Wouldn’t want Harry to see too much of him though. Better not let Harry to grow up into this distorted, disabled, fucking image of his fucking drip of a father.” I expect that’s what she’ll think.
It’s tough isn’t it? Life. Is it a lot more difficult than what you’d thought it would be? I mean, I’m sure you thought it was going to be difficult but that through sheer hard work and practice and training and inspiration – and in your case perspiration – that you would come through and in the end succeed. Because you thought, y’know, in this country at least, it was, at the end of the day, a meritocracy. And that fair play and honest, transparent work behaviour would be rewarded in the end. That bad people like me would fall by the wayside. And good people like you would triumph. Is that what you thought? Oops.
3. Comic Female Monologue David Lindsay-Abaire - Good People
Good People is a play focusing on Margaret, a single mother to a disabled adult daughter, Joyce, who was born before her husband left her. They’re a single paycheck away from being in real trouble.
In this scene, which is at the start of the play, Margaret is on a cigarette break talking to her boss. He is younger than her, and the son of her dead friend Suzie. While a comic story, the monologue is Margaret’s way of buying time to avoid a serious conversation about being late for her shift at the Dollar Store.
Did I ever tell you the turkey story? Up at Flanagan’s? When I worked up there and she came in? She never told you that turkey story? Huh. She was pregnant with you. No, Jimmy actually – she was pregnant with Jimmy – because it was near Christmas, and your father was locked up in Walpole again, so she didn’t have any money for anything. She had nothing. So your mother comes into Flanagan’s, and she’s out to here. (Indicates belly.) When’s Jimmy’s birthday? January. Right, so she’s out to here, and in this big coat. Remember that blue coat she always wore? And she’s walking up and down the aisles, slipping things in the pockets – potatoes, and cans of cranberry sauce, cookies, because you guys gotta eat, right? So she comes waddling up to my register. And I’m like, “Hey Suzie, how are the kids?” And she doesn’t wanna talk obviously, she’s just trying to push through the line, “Oh they’re good, I was just looking for something, but you don’t have it, so I’m gonna try someplace else.” And then there turkey falls out of her coat. It hits the floor right between her legs. A turkey. Boom. And I swear to god, she didn’t miss a beat. She looks up, real mad, and yells, “Who threw that bird at me?!” (Really laughing now). Oh we died. Everybody there. Ya had to laugh. “Who threw that bird at me?!” She was a funny sonofabitch. Pardon my French. God she was funny. I think about her all the time. Your mother was a good lady. It’s a lesson though. You’re lucky you don’t smoke. Too young, your mother.
4. Serious Female Monologue Tennessee Williams - The Glass Menagerie
Character: Amanda Wingfield
Tennessee Williams invented the trope of the aging Southern Belle, and Amanda Wingfield is the perfect example of this. Originally from a well-to-do family, Amanda is now a devoted and overinvolved mother to her children Laura and Tom.
In this scene, Amanda - who has been desperately trying to help her daughter Laura to get a business career - has discovered that Laura dropped out of the typing school after only a couple of days.
I went to the typing instructor and introduced myself as your mother. She didn’t know who you were. Wingfield, she said. We don’t have any such student enrolled at the school! I assured her she did, that you had been going to classes since early in January. ‘I wonder,’ she said, ‘if you could be talking about that terribly shy little girl who dropped out of school after only a few days’ attendance?’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘Laura, my daughter, has been going to school every day for the past six weeks!’ ‘Excuse me,’ she said. She took the attendance book out and there was your name, unmistakably printed, and all the dates you were absent until they decided that you had dropped out of school. I still said, ‘No, there must have been some mistake I There must have been some mix‐up in the records!’ And she said, ‘No – I remember her perfectly now. Her hands shook so that she couldn’t hit the right keys! The first time we gave a speed‐test, she broke down completely ‐ was sick at the stomach and almost had to be carried into the wash‐room! After that morning she never showed up any more. We phoned the house but never got any answer’ – while I was working at Famous and Barr, I suppose, demonstrating those – Oh! I felt so weak I could barely keep on my feet! I had to sit down while they got me a glass of water! Fifty dollars’ tuition, all of our plans – my hopes and ambition for you – just gone up the spout, just gone up the spout like that.
5. Under 30s Female Monologue David Macmillan - Lungs
In this play, an educated and thoughtful - bordering on neurotic - couple are discussing having a baby. They’ve been discussing this throughout the play, dealing with the moral dilemmas of children.
In this monologue, the woman has finally agreed to have a child, in spite of her serious misgivings.
Look. Alright. Listen, you have to understand, alright, I’m thinking out loud here so please just let me talk, just let me think it through out loud. Please, alright, don’t just jump in if I say something wrong or stupid, just let me think, okay. Because I’ve always wanted – alright – and I’m talking in the abstract, I’ve always wanted, I’ve always had a sense or an idea of myself, always defined myself, okay, as a person who would. That my purpose in life, that my function on this planet would be to. And not that I ever thought about it like that. It’s only now because you’re asking – or not asking but mentioning. Starting the conversation. Only because of that, that I’m now even thinking about it. But it’s always been sort of a given for me, an assumption ever since I was a little girl playing with dolls. I mean long, long before I met you. It’s never been what I guess it should be which is a a a a a a an extension of an expression of, you know, fucking love or whatever. A coming together of two people. It’s always been this, alright – and this will sound stupid and naive. But it’s always been an image, I guess, of myself with a bump and glowing in that motherly – or pushing a pram or a cot, or a mobile above it or singing to it. Reading Beatrix Potter or Dr Seuss. I don’t care, never cared about it being a boy or a girl. Just small and soft and adorable and with that milky head smell and the tiny socks and giggles and, yes, vomit even. It’s all part of it. Looking after it. Caring for it. That’s, I think, the impulse. And there’s always been a father in the picture but sort of a blurring background generic man. I’m sorry, it’s just this picture of my life I’ve always had since I was able to think and I’ve never questioned it. Never.
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