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  • Writer's pictureAndi Matheny

How to SPICE up your monologues!

Updated: Jun 27, 2023

Kenneth Branagh in "Hamlet"

When I was a beginning actor, monologues were my least favorite. I much preferred doing a scene with another human being, someone I could bounce off of, respond to, play with. As a result, any monologue I performed was like a wall of words that came tumbling out of my mouth like a concrete sheet, with very little life or spontaneity. I see beginning actors—and sometimes more experienced ones—have the same challenge.

Here's how to bring more life to your monologue. It's still a dialogue, and you're still responding and reacting to another human being—in my studio we call it the Hot Person—we just don't hear that person speak. But you are reacting and responding, line by line, beat by beat.

Here are the beginning lines of a sample monologue: "I really hate you. I've realized this for a long time. I'm leaving and I'm not going to let you suck me back in." The circumstance is, you've spent a year with this person who you thought you were in love with but they toyed with your feelings, cheated on you, forgot your birthday! Your Hot Person should be along the lines of a similar type of ex, or simply someone who you loved deeply who never reciprocated. Do a sensory exercise to get that person in your bones. Feel it? You're ready to work.

Now in rehearsal, imagine a question or reaction from them that prompts you to respond. Take it beat by beat. For example:

Them: "Hey, baby, why are you looking at me like that?"

You: "I really hate you."

Them, laughing: "Ah, you don't mean that! Since when?"

You: "I've realized this for a long time."

Them, approaching you for a kiss or more: "Come on baby, you're talking crazy talk!"

You: "I'm leaving and I'm not going to let you suck me back in."

Do this for each line or beat. Allow yourself to spontaneously respond to each of their "lines." Once you've rehearsed like this once or twice, take their lines away, but keep your spontaneous responses. Make sure your sensory image of the Hot Person stays strong. If it helps you to rehearse with another actor to stand in, ask an actor buddy, and do the same for them.

This tip works wonders to spice up your monologues and the rest of your acting work. Like it? There are many more tips in my book "Act ALIVE: The Essential Guide to Igniting and Sustaining Your Working Actor Career." I also post tips and inspiration on my studio's Instagram page. You have the ability to do great work, believe it and do it!


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