Posted on May 15th, 2011

When I coach someone on a monologue or an audition, it helps a lot that I’m a playwright. (Actually, I’ve been away a little while, because I just got accepted to Tina Howe’s MFA program, and that inspired me to start a new play.) So, I know where the words come from. And, I know how hard they were to come by. Remember, that when working in live theatre you’re working in a playwright driven medium. Only in film are you working in a director driven medium, where the words can be fudged, played around with or thought of as just an outline. In the theatre you need to be word perfect. This should be helpful when working on your monologue. It’s like following a road map or learning music. The words will tell you where to go, or how to sing the song. If your running over a certain word or phrase because you’re not sure exactly what it means, take the time to investigate. With the internet, there’s no excuse. Pop the phrase into the search bar and see what comes up. If it sounds like a regionalism, ask around - post it on facebook! Also, there are certain playwrights like Sam Shepherd and David Mamet that are all over their publishers to make sure that their plays are printed exactly how they wrote them. It’s becoming more and more the thing. In the past it was more likely that the published play would have new stage directions and accents that were put in by a stage manager during the rehearsal for the first production. Today, if you see an accented word, it means that playwright wrote that word to be accented. A perfect example is, “Glengarry Glen Ross”. Go ahead and just rattle through a passage in that play and punch up or even shout the words that are accented. You’re going to give yourself a really good start by doing that. You’re going to get a really strong idea of what Mamet intended and how the character talks. The words are your map. Follow that map. And, memorize that monologue painful perfect!

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