Familiarize Yourself with a Production in its Entirety
If you select a monologue to audition with, but aren’t familiar with the production in its entirety, you’ll want to familiarize yourself before heading out the door. While you’ll probably have some wiggle room with the way you’re planning to deliver the lines you’ll want to understand how the piece was originally performed. Oftentimes, making up a backstory simply isn’t enough to convince the casting director you’re the right option for the role.
Reading a monologue is all about being able to create some context around what’s being said while saying it. Obviously, the easiest way to do this is to understand what the context is by viewing the original piece. If you have room to adapt the piece – in other words, the casting director hasn’t asked you to recreate the original scene – you’ll be able to make an informed decision about how to do just that.
A script is like a detailed owner’s manual, telling you all the ins and outs of how something in the production works. Many actors view the script as their “go-to reference guide for how to perform any piece taken from it. You can take notes on the monologue based on how the story is playing out in the script, so you know how to deliver each line.
Reading through the production shows that you’re willing to put in the work to succeed. Scanning over a monologue and preparing for cold read is much easier than investing the time to really get to know the project’s ins and outs. This shows a level of investment, and actors who invest the time to do a thorough read-through will be sought after because it’s easier to work with well-rounded artists who are serious about their craft.
If you have little time to prepare for an audition, get to know the monologue as much as possible and try to get a decent understanding about the rest by looking up information and jotting down some notes. At least look over the details of the casting and any instructions you’ve been sent, including a breakdown, if it’s available. Study while you are waiting your turn after you’ve arrived at the audition and give it your best shot.
If you have been successful “winging it” in the past, you got lucky. This strategy doesn’t always work. Rather can cutting corners, take the time to practice and it will pay off!