What's a Monologue?
In theatre, a monologue is an extended (or long) speech presented by a single character.
Monologues are often used to express a character's thoughts out loud, but they can also be used to address another character on stage or even the audience.
The "To be, or not to be" speech from Shakespeare's HAMLET is probably the most famous monologue, but there are several others to choose from. Any time a single character is speaking for 30 seconds or more, THAT'S A MONOLOGUE!
The next time you're watching your favorite movie, or TV show, see if you can point out the monologues.
If you're new to theatre, or you're having trouble memorizing a monologue of your own, try break it down into small pieces or chunks.
Step One: Divide the speech into sections. If it's a long speech, you can use natural breaking points like paragraphs, or simply divide the text into even sections as you like.
Step Two: Focus your all of your attention on the first section until you have it completely committed to memory. You can test this by trying to recite the lines while performing some other activity (like washing the dishes). Once you have the first section down, move to the next one.
Step Three: Once the second section is committed to memory, practice saying both sections together. Once you have both sections fully committed to memory, move on to the third section and repeat step two.
Step Four: Repeat Steps Two and Three until you can recite the entire speech from memory. In theatre, the ability to say your lines without a script is called "offbook."
Once you memorize your monologue, start to think about the character.
First, figure out WHO is speaking. Is it a princess? A bus driver? A teacher? A kid? How does who they are change how they move and talk?
Then, think about WHY you're talking. Sometimes, characters think out load to work out a problem or to brainstorm ideas before acting on them. Other times, a character is trying to convince another character to give them something, or to do something for them.
Is your character worried and trying to find a solution to a problem? Are they in love and talking out load about the person they have a crush on? Do they want something from another character/themselves and are using the speech to try and get what they want? Try and figure out what your character WANTS and see if that changes how you act out your speech.
Lastly, think about WHERE your character is when they are saying the speech. Are they outside? In their room? On a battlefield? Figuring out where our character is helps us paint a more complete picture for our audience. For example, if your character is outside in the middle of a snowstorm, they might behave differently than if they were standing on a beach.
And if you have the ability to read the full script or watch the full movie (or episode), it will help you build upon your character even more. The more information you have, the more interesting your character will be. Just think of your own life. Everything you do is the result of the things that have happened to you up to that point, your environment, and the people you know. The same is true for the characters we portray on stage!
If you can't think of any monologues, here are a few of our favorites about Dreams!