What you’ll need for the audition
For your individual audition you will need a monologue lasting around two minutes. This can be from a contemporary/modern play or classical (Shakespeare/ Jacobean). We honestly have no preference. Do whatever you think is going to show what you can do off best.
Where can I find a monologue?
Here are some bookshops you might want to take a look in:
Foyles: Charing Cross Rd
107 Charing Cross Road,
London, WC2H 0DT
National Theatre Bookshop
London SE1 9PX
Royal Court Theatre Bookshop
London SW1W 8AS
Bush Theatre Library
7 Uxbridge Road
Finding a speech unavoidably takes time. Luckily, these bookshops don’t mind you sitting down and having a good read for however long you like. So don’t feel like you’re being cheeky when spending a bit of time in there.
You can also find plays at The Monobox's 'Speech Surgery' too if you have a spare £10.They have a large selection of donated plays as well as a friendly set of volunteers that will help you find a speech that's right for you.
Three steps to reduce your search time
1. When looking for a modern speech a good tip is to look for the colourful, thinner, new looking plays. Of course sometimes writers have a collection of plays in one book but you probably want to look for something that has been written in the last 10 years.
2. Next, check the first few inside pages where there may be character list showing genders and ages. If all the characters are in their 40’s you know you don’t have to bother looking through it and put it straight back on the shelf.
3. Once you find one that might be promising, flick through all the pages and look for where the character has big chunks of text to see if there is a monologue in there that might work. Sometimes you can put two or three medium size chunks together to make a single monologue. But only do this if you feel it works.
You may like a play, or the writing, but it doesn’t have anything for you. Have a look at something else the playwright has written as there could be something in one of their other plays that might be right.
How do I find the right monologue for me?
Picking the right monologue or speech can be really difficult. It’s hard to know where to even start. So here are some pointers that might be useful.
Look for a speech where the character is near to your age. Something you connect to and like. Something you enjoy performing and where you can show what you do best. You’re not necessarily looking for a big challenge or something to shock. After you’ve worked it, it should come easy. This should be a good indicator that the speech is right for you.
There are always exceptions to this but speeches that work well in auditions are ones that are immediate, and by that I mean where the character is really trying get something from the other character, or really need to get something off their chest, or urgently trying to change the view of the other person. This other person can be the audience of course but in most cases these sort of speeches are usually to another person. This helps with getting the audiences attention from the get go, rather than perhaps a long story that might warm up a bit later. Again, this is not always the case.
If you get stuck, here are some suggestions of plays that have great monologues in:
Vera, Vera, Vera by Hayley Squires
Punk Rock by Simon Stephens
Love, Love, Love by Mike Bartlett
Bull by Mark Bartlett
Boys by Ella Hickson
Cock by Mark Bartlett
Jumpers for Goalposts by Tom Wells
Punk Rock by Simon Stephens
Kiss Me Like You Mean It by Chris Chibnal
Many Moons by Alice Birch
For your Open Door audition don’t worry about what might be done a lot or if a speech might be ‘overdone’. We just want you to do a speech that you think fits you best. So please do feel free to use any of the suggestions above.
Can I do a speech that is meant for another gender?
The simple answer is yes! You may not even class yourself with a specific sex. But yes. This of course applies if you choose a classical speech too. Again, we just want to see you do your best.
How do I best prepare?
Read the whole play
Read the whole play. It will give you a better sense of character, in terms of where they’re from and what they’ve been through. It will also give you a better insight into what they are feeling in that moment of the play when they are speaking the monologue.
Learn your lines
You’d be surprised how many don’t know their lines as well as they should do. Don’t leave it to the last minute. Get it learnt as soon as possible. Learn them inside out so that when you perform them on the day you are not even thinking about them, they just flow out. Only then can you actually act and start playing with the monologue. If you’re thinking about what your next line is you can’t really be in the scene and mean what you are saying.
The best way to learn lines is to act it out. Learn the thoughts. Thought by thought. A thought is sentence. From the first capital letter to the punctuation at the end. Don’t learn it like a robot, through a combination of words. Do it out loud. In your living room, kitchen, bedroom. Some people record themselves doing the lines and fall asleep playing it back to themselves. We all have different ways of learning, find what works best for you.
What will the audition be like?
It’s not the X-factor. No one will be getting a tap on the shoulder or any words of discouragement. We’ll do our best to make you feel as comfortable and as welcome as possible, because we know you only do your best work when you’re most relaxed.
The first part will be an hour long group workshop. It’s aim is to help you to get rid of some of those nerves and for you to get to know us a little better. Of course we are looking to see if you are a team player but you will not be judged on this first session, so don’t even worry about it. All you have to do is simply take part and try to enjoy it!
The group will then be split up and you’ll be given a time slot for your 10 minute individual audition. This will be with a panel of two people.
They'll have a little chat with you so they can get to know you a bit better and then you’ll perform you’re prepared monologue. We may redirect you. Try not to read anything into it either way.
Go home and forget about it! We’ll be in touch either way with the result.
Will I get feedback?
Our hope is to give you some immediate feedback in the room. Things for you to keep working on. We want you to walk away happy that you’ve done you’re best but with the knowledge of how to keep improving on the work you’ve already done. If you still feel you need more then we can give you some written feedback on request that was noted down by your panelists on the day.
Tips and things to think about
- Be as truthful as you can. Really think about what that character is thinking and feeling, and try to think and feel those things.
- Think about what they want from the other person or the audience, and try and get it. If you are trying to convince them of something or change their mind about something then do that.
- Perform it in your own accent and voice. Don’t put on an ‘acting voice’. You’re the interesting thing so use you!
- We have a very limited time to get to know you so answer any questions as honestly as you can. Don’t think about what you think we might want to hear, answer how you want to answer. We are not looking for ‘certain type of person’. You’ve heard it before but be yourself. Be yourself in that moment, in that situation, with these people. It's ok if your a bit nervous. We all get nerves.
- We’re on your side. Sometimes you can go into auditions thinking the panel are waiting for you to mess up. It’s quite the opposite. Remember we’re looking for people with potential who we can support, so we are willing you to be good.
- The best way to think about this is you have very little control about what decisions are going to be made. But what you do have in your control is being in the moment when you’re performing your speech, and doing the best acting you can. So just worry about that. Not what we think. And when you’re done, forget about it. You won’t have lost anything you walked in with.
Don’t just take our word for it. Have a look at Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston talk about how he approaches auditions: