Choosing and Preparing your Monologue – Tools & Tips

The pages in this section will help you prepare your monologue for performance. Familiarize yourself with the basics of Shakespeare’s verse structure, rhetorical figures, and the value of a word-for-word paraphrase. Get some tips about cutting Shakespeare’s text to help you feel confident about making your own cuts in a longer monologue.

Guidelines for choosing your monologue

Monologues must be from an Early Modern play.

Here, the term “Early Modern” refers to plays written during the period roughly defined as being between 1580-1642. While that period includes Shakespeare and all of his plays, he wasn’t the only playwright of any value producing work during that time. Campers are welcome to choose audition monologues from plays written by any of Shakespeare’s contemporaries, like Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Thomas Middleton, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher, Thomas Kyd, and Philip Massinger (just to name a few).

Monologues may be in either verse or prose, and must be between 10-15 lines long.

The line limit is non-negotiable.
Is your verse piece 8 lines long? Find a new one.
Is it 20 lines long? Cut it down, or find a new one.
Having a hard time figuring out if your prose monologue meets the length requirements? Try setting it as “verse” by inserting line breaks every 10 syllables to get a general idea of the length.

Prepare your text.

The pages in this section outline the tools and tips the professional ASC actors use when preparing their lines for performance. Use the pages in this section to learn more about working with Shakespeare’s verse, identifying and playing rhetorical figures, how to create a helpful word-for-word paraphrase, and some tips for making cuts to a monologue that goes over the line limit.