the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area

mostly the day to day of a professional actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, but also the home of the Counting Actors Project

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Monologue inventory

Last week I inventoried my monologues. I looked back through my audition tracking spreadsheet to remind myself what monologues I've been doing in auditions lately, and to help figure out what type of monologue I should be looking for to learn next.

Over the years, I've rotated monologues out of my repertoire for a number of reasons, including that I've done them too much, they've grown stale for me acting-wise, I've outgrown them, or that they weren't playing the right way w/auditors outside the context of the whole play.

And, when I rotate things out of the repertoire, it's time to rotate something else in.  But what?  That's where the inventory comes in.  I categorize and describe what I've got, and then look for the holes.

I categorize by time period, and I use three - classic (Greeks to Moliere or so, incl. Shakespeare), modern (approx Ibsen/Shaw/Chekhov through Odets/Williams/Miller), and Contemporary (written in the last 20-30 years).  Then, I categorize by tone - comic, serious, or serio-comic, keeping in mind that the tone varies  a bit with the time period - a comic classic piece might simply be one where a character talks about falling in love (like Viola in Twelfth Night) but a comic contemporary piece might be much more jokey (think Neil Simon).  After that, I look for where pieces fall in terms of physicality - does this character sit in a chair and talk the whole time or do they run around the stage and pretend to sword fight?  I also look at dialect work, and try to have one piece ready to go in a dialect I'm good at and would get to do onstage (usually a British or American Southern as opposed to Carribean/West Indies or Japanese).

After I look at these things, categorizing gets more creative and fun.  I look at things like character status, are they talking to one person or addressing a crowd, is their internal rhythm slow or fast, are they a city mouse or a country mouse, where does this character fall in terms of my age range?  Typically, I think a character seems young if they're experiencing something new or for the first time, and a character seems older if they are giving advice, or remembering a past event.  I may also look at the character's profession - sometimes the character is primarily a lawyer/doctor/businessperson etc. and other times their relationship parent/child/spouse is in the foreground in the piece.

My current inventory includes:
1. contemporary comic, fast rhythm, low physicality, violinist on a first date
2. contemporary serious, slow rhythm, low physicality, parent of a teen w/cerebral palsy
3. contemporary comic, variable rhythm, medium physicality, stressed out political aide talking to small group
4. contemporary seriocomic, medium rhythm, medium physicality, sister of the bride doing wedding toast for large group
5. contemporary seriocomic, medium rhythm, low physicality, waspy wife attempting apology to cheating husband
6. classic serious, slow rhythm, medium physicality, king's widow about to be taken as war prize
7. classic comic, variable rhythm, high physicality, queen falling in love under a spell
8. classic comic, variable rhythm, medium physicality, maid showing her master that he's marrying his daughter to the wrong man
9. classic comic, variable rhythm, high physicality, drunk getting two reluctant fighters to duel
10. classic serious, slow rhythm, low physicality, conquered queen begging for her son's life

So after the inventory, my biggest hole is in the modern category.  I need to do my looking there.  I don't have any dialect pieces right now, so looking at something like Shaw or Wilde would be a good place to start.  It'd also be great to look for pieces that emphasize physicality.  In terms of high or low status, age of character and those types of variables are really open - I've got a lot of different things covered, so I can probably find something that pairs well with other monologues that I've got already.  I might want to think about looking for someone who is talking to a group - overall, more of my monologues are characters talking to one or two people.

Okay - now I'm off to the library!

Or, if anyone reading has a suggestion for me - post 'em in the comments!

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