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Where can I find and how do I select a monologue for an audition or class recitation?

First, a couple of distinctions. A monologue is an extended passage in a script where only one character is speaking. Shakespeare’s plays certainly contain plenty of monologues. But Shakespeare (and others) also incorporates soliloquies. A soliloquy is an extended passage spoken by a character alone on stage. In this theatrical convention, it is understood that the audience is hearing the intimate thoughts and feelings of the character. It is (normally) understood that no other characters may overhear a soliloquy. A monologue, on the other hand, is directed at another character (or characters) on stage. A monologue will have a specific context. The words the character is speaking are intended to affect whomever s/he is addressing. The character’s intention while speaking a soliloquy is less certain. Don’t try to solve this problem by delivering a soliloquy as though you are addressing yourself in the mirror. In audition or in a classroom, it is probably best to address the auditor or audience directly - whether you have chosen a monologue or a soliloquy. If you are uncomfortable looking right at the audience, speak to an imaginary person just over their heads. (Indeed, for soliloquies in particular, your imaginary person can be anyone you choose: a friend, your therapist, your mom. Imagining that you are speaking to someone you know will help make your soliloquy active rather than reflective.)

When deciding on a piece for auditions, it is probably best to avoid passages that are too well known, such as "to be or not to be". Otherwise, choose something that appeals to you and looks like it would be fun to do. High school students might be best advised not to stray too far from the plays they have already studied. University students might prefer to venture further afield and choose pieces that are used less often. Given that most of the roles in Shakespeare are for men, women need not feel that they must necessarily choose something spoken by a female character. Shakespeare’s plays were all, originally, performed exclusively by men and boys. Increasingly, roles are being adapted to allow much more flexibility in this regard, particularly at the high school level. But even at the professional level, all female casts are not unheard of.

Some monologues may be found at http://www.shakespeare-monologues.org/

Some useful books include:

Solililoquy! The Shakespeare Monologues: The Men    Applause Theatre Book Publishers

Solililoquy! The Shakespeare Monologues: The Women    Applause Theatre Book Publishers

Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Men    published by Routledge

Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Women   published by Routledge

More Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Men   Simon Dunmore, Editor, Routledge

More Alternative Shakespeare Auditions For Women   Simon Dunmore, Editor, Routledge                    

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