How to choose an audition monologue

(Photo credit: Adam McGrath)

Hooray! You’ve secured an audition for a play you’re really keen to be a part of. You open the confirmation email and see those daunting words:

Please prepare a monologue of your choice

For many theatre auditions, like the ones at Canberra Youth Theatre, you will be asked to find and prepare your own monologue. This may seem like an overwhelming task, and you may not know where to start, but don’t worry – you’re not alone! One of the hardest things I still find about being an actor is not crying on cue or stage fright, it is finding new material for auditions. I want to be told what to do, not CHOOSE! What I’ve learned is that mastering the art of research and having the ability to make these choices is not only a really important skill to have as an actor, but a fun process that can set you apart from others in the audition room.

A good place to start is to think about WHAT you’re auditioning for. If at all possible, try to read the play in advance, so you can choose a monologue that will be appropriate. If you’re auditioning for a play at Canberra Youth Theatre, you can email or call them to book a time to read the play in their office. If the play is already published, you may also be able to purchase a copy from Currency Press or Playlab, or even find it in your local library. 

If it’s a general audition, have a think about the roles you’d like to play and the kinds of projects you would like to be a part of. How do you want to be perceived in the here, now, today? Monologues don’t only serve to show what you can do as an actor, they’re also a vessel to meet you as an artist. Don’t do a Little Women monologue if you hate Victorian Era plays (unapologetically guilty). Try and think outside of the box – there’ll be at least 6 others doing Juliet’s balcony monologue, so put in that little extra time to find something a little more unique!

You’re going to want to choose a monologue from a character that is a similar age to you. “But blog writer, I am a young artist and all the monologues are for old cisgender men!” Internet reader, I FEEL YOUR PAIN! When I started auditioning, I had no idea there was a whole world of hidden theatrical gems for young people out there. We are lucky to have some really fantastic Australian plays for young people. 

Canberra Youth Theatre has commissioned some fantastic plays which you can purchase through Currency Press or in the office. If you ask really nicely, you can also pop into their office to read their plays and large collection of other pieces from their library. 

Other youth theatre publications you can check out are:

ATYP’s Publications

ATYP’s Intersection Collections

The Monologue Collective

Nick Hern Books

Book Nook online store

I found one of my favorite monologues through one of the audition guides that all the leading drama schools publish every year. The monologue search tool on Australian Plays Transform can also be useful, as you can filter your search by character age.

Going old school and signing up for a library card for your local library can also be great, so you can dewy decimate your way through some options there too!

You know where to look, so now comes the part I both love and dread. Decisions!!!

My biggest tip is to choose something that makes you EXCITED! My best monologues are the ones that excited me when I first read them. You won’t be the only one auditioning, and when lots of actors are being seen for a role it can be easy to get lost in the deep grey sea of MEH monologues. This doesn’t mean you have to choose something melodramatic that is loud and angry, but rather a piece with a bit of drive and direction, and a moment of change. For example, it could be a monologue where your character is trying to get something out of another character, they could be having a moment of realisation or have another strong motive. This is called an active monologue, rather than a reflective or passive piece. If the director asks you to try different performance choices, you will find it easier with these kinds of pieces. 

Lastly, it’s also important to remember there is no such thing as the perfect monologue! I can easily get overwhelmed by all my options, and it never feels like there is a piece that will show off all my strengths as an actor. This is actually a good thing! If you make clear and strong decisions, the audition panel will be excited to see what else you can do. Being decisive is such a valuable skill as a performer, as is trusting yourself. Try and use your audition piece as an opportunity for agency as an artist and person, not perfection. Let your personality and attributes shine!

I hope you enjoy the joyous rabbit hole of discovering new work as much as I do. Go forth, read lots, watch tons, and go with your gut.


Thea Jade is an actor, writer and Canberra Youth Theatre alumnus, playing Elise in the world premiere of How to Vote! by Julian Lanarch and a former member of Emerge Company. She is devoted to youth advocacy and engagement, and passionate about supporting other emerging artists in their professional practices and creation of new work.