“Choosing Monologues can be an art – a creative art you can get good at.”
How to Choose A Monologue for Any Audition is written by Karen Kohlhaas. She has truly explore the world of monologues and auditioning: She teaches classes on monologues, has books and dvds, her website is monologueaudition.com.
When I was sent this book to review I was of two minds. I’m not fond of ‘how to’ books for acting; monologue or otherwise. I believe acting is a practical art, you don’t learn much by reading, you learn in the doing.
On the other hand, I do realize I’m speaking from my own experiences as a learner – some people need to read first and then move toward action. And, having sat through many an audition I’m also aware that choosing a monologue is (unfortunately) far from a dead topic: there are many, many, many actors out there – student, amateur and professional who still have no idea how to choose a proper audition piece.
And on the third hand (how else do you think I get all my writing done?) I wondered about the book’s appropriateness for the high school performer. Since, that is what we focus on around here.
I’m thrilled to be able to say that after reading How to Choose A Monologue I would highly recommend it for high school performers. I would go so far to say that How to Choose A Monologue should find a home in every high school drama classroom. Many actors pick out their first monologues in high school and many lose their way right off the bat. Here’s a book that will set every beginning actor off on the right foot when it comes to choosing monologues.
“If they don’t cast me, I want it to be their fault, not mine.”
Certainly the primary audience for the book is the actor trying to find work, but there is plenty to glean for the high school actor: how to choose contrasting monologues, a chapter on auditioning for training programs, solving problems, what might not make a good monologue. All very useful for the beginning actor. There is even a chapter on ‘Your First Monologue Ever.’
The main thing I like about How to Choose A Monologue is that it advocates an active process to choosing monologues. For example, the book is big on research. Research the part, the play, the director. If it’s for a school, research the teachers and the past productions. This is not something that every High school performer takes into consideration. Another active element is to have more than two worn to threads monologues at your disposal, to choose monologues you love to do, and to not have chosen those monologues the night before the audition.
Every actor is in control of how well a monologue goes and it’s every actor’s responsibility to spend the necessary time it takes to prepare for an audition. Time and time again I see and hear about high school students who wait till the last minute to choose a piece, or change their piece suddenly as if changing a monologue is like changing a pair of shoes. This book does a great job of outlining how much time and energy you should take into choosing the right pieces for you and for a particular project.
I also like the big Resource section at the back of the book. Websites, monologue sources, books – lots for the high school performer to use and re use.
“Monologues clearly reveal an actor’s performing habits and problems, because there is no scene partner to distract attention…”
My favourite chapter in the book is ‘Solving performance problems’ – especially physical and vocal ‘fidgets.’ If there’s anything the high school performer needs to work on it’s controlling the fidgets! Oh, the number of times I wished I could have nailed an actor’s feet to the floor during a monologue. Metaphorically of course. Hem.
And as an extra special bonus, it warms my heart to see the book is dedicated to Karen’s high school drama teacher. Love that.
You can buy How to Choose A Monologue For Any Audition here.