Updated: Sep 28
Every actor should have a few acting monologues prepared and ready just incase a monologue battle breaks out. Just kidding....
The reason is simple: the monologue is an invite into a character’s world (point of view) through their speech, movements, tone, and feelings he or she conveys to the audience. It’s the moment when a character vocalizes their thoughts, giving us insights that’ll get to know them better and move the story forward.
The better you get at delivering monologues, the sharper your acting skills get.
There seems to be an "idea" around monologues that automatically connects them to a long, overly-dramatic block of text. We can actually categorize monologues into three different types.
· Dramatic: The word “dramatic” here doesn’t necessarily mean that the character’s speech will be sad. A dramatic monologue can be serious, but it can also be funny depending on the plot. The main characteristic of this kind of monologue is that it’s given to the audience or to another character.
· Interior: In an interior monologue, characters vocalize their thoughts. In film and TV, internal monologues are the words heard in the character’s voice during voiceovers, for example.
· Soliloquy: A soliloquy can be described as a character talking to themselves as if they were alone, or “thinking out loud” as though the audience isn’t listening or watching the scene unfold.
The Importance of Monologues for Actors
There’s a number of reasons why actors should have at least one monologue memorized and ready to go.
You can use it as a training tool anytime
Memorized that monologue? Great. Now perfect it. Try different things with it. Understand the character’s motivation behind it. One of the best things about any monologue is that you only need yourself to hone your skills and learn a lot more about who you’re playing.
They’re a great supplement to your acting reel.
Having a demo reel is a must but also having a great monologue separately recoded can be super useful. Why? Because it could be the turning point when a director decides to cast you. Besides a collection of jobs you’ve been a part of, it’s essential to have something that shows what you are capable of as an actor.
They Take the Edge Off “What Else Have You Got for Us?”
Get a monologue on tape or have it memorized and you’ll always have something else to show. Also, you’ll be ready to submit it anytime. Having it ready not only reveals your commitment to a certain job, but it shows you’re capable of performing a variety of roles.
Examples of Monologues (For Men)
Below are a few renowned monologues you can start working on right now. Remember to choose one that better represents you. Some of these are one-minute monologues, others are slightly longer.
Burn This By Lanford Wilson
PALE: Well, see, fine, you got these little social phrases and politenesses--all they show me is this--like--giganticness of unconcern with your “I’m sorrys,” man. The fuckin’ world is going down the fuckin’ toilet on “I’m sorrys.” I’m sorry is this roll of toilet paper--they’re growing whole forests, for people to wipe their asses on with their “I’m sorrys.” Be a tree. For one day. And know that that tree over there is gonna be maybe music paper, the Boss is gonna make forty million writin’ some poor-slob-can’t-get-work song on. This tree is gonna be ten-dollar bills, get passed around, buy things, mean something, hear stories; we got sketch pads and fuckin’ “I don’t love you anymore” letters pinned to some creep’s pillow--something of import. Headlines, box scores, some great book or movie script--Jack Nicholson’s gonna mark you all up, say whatever he wishes to, anyway, out in some fuckin’ desert, you’re supposed to be his text, he’s gonna lay out this line of coke on you-Tree over there is gonna be in some four-star restaurant, they’re gonna call him parchment, bake pompano in him. And you’re stuck in the ground, you can’t go nowhere, all you know is some fuckin’ junkie’s gonna wipe his ass and flush you down the East River. Go floating out past the Statue of Liberty all limp and covered with shit, get tangled up in some Saudi Arabian oil tanker’s fuckin’ propellers--you got maybe three hundred years before you drift down to Brazil somewhere and get a chance to maybe be a coffee bush. “I’m sorrys” are fuck, man.
Dr. Faustus - Christopher Marlowe
Now has thou but one bare hour to live,
And then thou must be damn’d perpetually.
Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
That time may cease and midnight never come;
Fair nature’s eye, rise, rise again, and make
Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
That Faustus may repent and save his soul.
O lente lente currite noctis equi!
The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
The devil will come, and Faustus must be damn’d.
O, I’ll leap up to my God! Who pulls me down?
See, see where Christ’s blood streams in the firmament!
One drop would save my soul, half a drop. Ah, my Christ! –
Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;
Yet will I call on him. O, spare me, Lucifer! –
Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
A hundred thousand, and at last be sav’d.
O, no end is limited to damned souls.
Curs’d be the parents that engender’d me!
No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
That hath depriv’d thee of the joys of heaven.
O, it strikes, it strikes! Now, body, turn to air,
Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
O soul, be changed into little water drops,
And fall into the ocean, ne’er be found.
My God, my God! Look not so fierce on me!
Adders and serpents let me breathe awhile!
Ugly hell, gape not! Come not, Lucifer;
I’ll burn my books! – Ah, Mephostophilis!
Don Juan – Moliere
DON JUAN:What! Would you have a man tie himself up to the first woman that captures his fancy, renounce the world for her, and never again look at anyone else? That is a fine idea, I must say, to make a virtue of faithfulness, to bury oneself for good and all in one single passion and remain blind ever after to all other beauties that might catch one’s eye! No! Let fools make a virtue of constancy! All beautiful women have a right to our love, and the accident of being the first comer shouldn’t rob others of a fair share in our hearts. As for me, beauty delights me wherever I find it and I freely surrender myself to its charms. No matter how far I’m committed – the fact that I am in love with one person shall never make me unjust to the others. I keep an eye for the merits of all of them and render each one the homage, pay each one the tribute that nature enjoins. Come what may, I cannot refuse love to what I find lovable, and so, when a beautiful face is asking for love, if I had ten thousand hearts I would freely bestow every one of them. After all, there is something inexpressibly charming in falling in love and, surely, the whole pleasure lies in the fact that love isn’t lasting. How delightful, how entrancing it is to lay liege with a hundred attentions to a young woman’s heart; to see, day by day, how one makes slight advances; to pit one’s exaltation, one’s sighs and one’s tears, against the modest reluctance of a heart unwilling to yield; to surmount, step by step, all the little barriers by which she resists; to overcome her proud scruples and bring her at last to consent. But once one succeeds, what else remains? What more can one wish for? All that delights one in passion is over and one can only sink into a tame and slumbrous affection – until a new love comes along to awaken desire and offer the charm of new conquests. There is no pleasure to compare with the conquest of beauty, and my ambition is that of all the great conquerors who could never find it in them to set bounds to their ambitions, but must go on for ever from conquest to conquest. Nothing can restrain my impetuous desires. I feel it is in me to love the whole world, and like Alexander still wish for new worlds to conquer.
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde
ALGERNON:I haven’t the smallest intention of doing anything of the kind. To begin with, I dined there on Monday, and once a week is quite enough to dine with one’s own relations. In the second place, whenever I do dine there I am always treated as a member of the family, and sent down with either no woman at all, or two. In the third place, I know perfectly well whom she will place me next to, tonight. She will place me next Mary Farquhar, who always flirts with her own husband across the dinner-table. That is not very pleasant. Indeed, it is not even decent . . . and that sort of thing is enormously on the increase. The amount of women in London who flirt with their own husbands is perfectly scandalous. It looks so bad. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public. Besides, now that I know you to be a confirmed Bunburyist I naturally want to talk to you about Bunburying. I want to tell you the rules.
The Glass Menagerie – Tennessee Williams
TOM: I didn’t go to the moon. I went much further–for time is the longest distance between two places. Not long after that I was fired for writing a poem on the lid of a shoebox. I left St. Louis. I descended the steps of the fire escape for a last time and followed, from then on, in my father’s footsteps, attempting to find in motion what was lost in space. I traveled around a great deal. The cities swept about me like dead leaves, leaves that were brightly coloured but torn away from their branches. I would have stopped, but I was pursued by something. It always came upon me unawares, taking me altogether by surprise. Perhaps it was a familiar bit of music. Perhaps it was only a piece of transparent glass. Perhaps I am walking along a street at night, in some strange city, before I have found companions. I pass the lighted window of a shop where perfume is sold. The window is filled with pieces of coloured glass, tiny transparent bottles in delicate colours, like bits of a shattered rainbow. Then all at once my sister touches my shoulder. I turn around and look into her eyes. Oh Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be! I reach for a cigarette, I cross the street, I run into the movies or a bar, I buy a drink, I speak to the nearest stranger–anything that can blow your candles out! For nowadays the world is lit by lightning! Blow out your candles, Laura – and so goodbye…