You have your dramatic, comedic, and classic monologue ready to go at a moments notice, right? Good job, actor! Keep them fresh by pulling them out once in a while. And instead of practicing with them… play with them. Take the time find new values, beats, phrasing, and emotion in your words. Let your monologues breathe a little. We find playing with our monologues keeps them from becoming stagnant and, dare we say it… over-rehearsed?!
Some of these sound a bit kooky. But, hey, we did use the word interesting in the title. Give them a try with your monologue or in your classroom. See what new moments you’ll discover.
1. Whisper it into a corner
Seriously, go to a corner and whisper your monologue like you’re revealing a secret. Feel how intimate the experience is. Just you, softly saying the words aloud. It’s awkward, but push through. This practice will help you build an authentic voice, to really get to know the words you’re giving life to.
2. Do the opposite
Is your monologue dramatic? Make it comedic! Find the humor even in the dark moments, and the drama in the comedy. There is really no other way to pull so much more variety into your monologue than to explore its extremes. Find those moments of great tension and dive in! Remember to take notes of what you realized through the performance, you just might what to do it again at an audition…!
3. Close your eyes
This exercise works best in front of a group because it puts you in a place of vulnerability. Especially when you’re struggling with staying focused in the piece, this practice will help keep you centered on the words and not outside stimulation. The goal here is not to recite the words with eyes closed, like you’re reading a teleprompter - but to put yourself in world where the words come naturally.
4. Run… then go!
Find yourself with great momentum at the end of a piece, but it starts off too slow? Here’s a way to play with the energy you insert at the beginning. Run. Like really, run around the theater, or your house, or wherever you’re practicing until you get out of breath and then GO. Start your monologue. Launch into it. Feel the adrenaline push you into a higher energy level and find a way to keep it engaging and active all the way through.
5. Physicalizing through paralyzing
Wondering how best to physicalize your piece? Choose a body part and make it immovable. Choose a leg, or an arm, or an upper half, and move through your piece with a immobile body part. It will focus your attention immediately on make very concise movements with the rest of your body. It will be weird, but you’ll start to gain clarity on how to better utilize your limbs for purpose and not for show.
How else have you played with a monologue on your own or in a classroom?