Choosing a monologue for auditions or a class can be tricky – you have to worry about whether it’s right for you, if the director hates the playwright you’ve chosen, or (horror of horrors!) if the director played the same role back in her high school theatre days.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help from an older student, a teacher, or even the director.

Here are some pieces of advice:

  • Monologues for auditions usually have to be two to four minutes in length. But make sure that the really good stuff isn’t all at the end.  You could be cut off after one minute – you want the director to have a good idea of your talents that quickly.
  • You should have a second monologue “on deck” that you can perform if the director asks to see something else.  This monologue should contrast the first, so if you’re performing a comedic piece, your back-up is a dramatic piece.
  • It’s perfectly acceptable to do a monologue from another role that you’ve performed – unless the director you’re auditioning for has already seen it.  When you rehearse it, make sure you adjust the blocking if necessary.  You may have had another person onstage in the play, but it’s only you up there during the audition.
  • Accents in monologues are only a good idea if the director has indicated that she wants to hear one (or more), or if you know the play you’re auditioning for requires them.  Then, if you can reasonably affect one, and you have found a monologue that uses the same one as you need, you can go ahead and use it.
  • If you look through monologue books to find your pieces, make sure that the monologues are excerpted from published plays, and not written to be “great monologues for teens/kids/whatever”.  There is usually not enough depth in those two-paragraph pieces to make for an interesting or challenging audition.  If you find something you like in a collection, go find the play it’s from and read it!  Directors sometimes ask questions about the character or play, and you should be able to answer them.
  • The best way to find great monologues is to read plays.  Make your way through the whole drama section in your public library!  Here on, you can utilize our Finding Scripts Online series, or check out our Play Overviews – many of them have young adult characters.
  • Try to avoid overdone pieces.  What’s “overdone” can vary from school to school, but if all students in English classes are required to memorize a section Romeo and Juliet during their freshman year, it’s probably a good bet that the director has heard enough of “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”  to last a lifetime. Some higher education programs have “avoid” lists;
  • Performing something avant-garde (“out there”) can work against you.  A really experimental piece that’s difficult to understand, such as a monologue in which you play a piece of lint on a stockbrocker’s lapel, could communicate to the director that you have no interest in playing something as average as a regular teenager onstage.