“Impossibly thorough and specific. By the end of the intro, I wrote the following: ‘Inspiring. I actually want to go digging for new, juicy pieces.’"
I cannot recall having ever read a book that so clearly outlined a manageable goal, laid out a variety of tactics I could choose from to help me reach that goal, and left me feeling excited, inspired and well-equipped to do so.
Finding monologues is one of my least favorite things to do. I am not alone in this. By the end of the introduction, I wrote the following in the liner: "Inspiring. I actually want to go digging for new, juicy pieces."
"How to Choose a Monologue for Any Audition” is impossibly thorough and specific, addressing the monologue experience from a full 360 degrees, inside and out, from all likely scenarios, and answering every FAQ/excuse/anxiety I have ever asked a teacher or quietly whispered to myself.
As it promises, the book clearly lays out where to look, how to look and what to look for in smart monologue choices. However, I think the real gems in this book are the endless exercises, questions and challenges offered to the reader.
I can see myself pulling this book off the shelf years down the line at any lull or block in creativity when I am looking to be re-inspired not just as an auditioning actor, but as a creative theatre artist.
— Franny Silverman
“A much-needed kick in the butt! This book should be handed to every actor the day they arrive in the city.”
This book was a much-needed kick in the butt. I think as an actor I sometimes feel powerless. The book proved to be a great guide for ways in which I can take action to empower myself more; both in terms of the attitude to maintain about monologues and providing practical ways of choosing, rehearsing and performing them.
This book has certainly ignited my desire to read and develop my knowledge of new plays. I look forward to discovering monologues that are new and exciting to me.
I think this book should be handed to every actor the day they arrive in the city. The text is clear and basic enough for someone with no experience to understand and apply, and at the same time so "right-to-the-point" that after seven years of conservatory education I still found it enlightening and inspiring. The truth never gets old.
— Nikki Berger
“Marking a pro from an amateur is the biggest thing I’ll take away from this book.”
The book is as inspiring as it is practical. It encourages and inspires me to slow down and take active control of my career and work in more ways than just monologues. It's thorough and any serious actor will gain a new awareness from reading this.
Marking a pro from an amateur is the biggest thing that I'll take away from this book. It takes a lot of work to be a pro and I'm glad you've addressed many of the issues that prevent people from becoming pros. Voice, speech, movement, clear choices, smart material, a great headshot, the ability to have a range of monologues at your call, the ability to choose the right material for your audience, the ability to get along with your colleagues, how and when to meet with an agent or manager—all of these items are things that actors can work on.
So often, actors I know neglect most of these factors that can lead to their success. I'll be sharing this with my other actor friends.
Your chapter “Solving Performance Problems” makes me extremely aware of my bad habits and defense mechanisms. It drills the discipline into my work to eliminate these "tells".
— Brad Engle
“It’s about every choice an actor can make before and after [an audition]…and how important (and neglected) those choices are.”
When an actor first begins auditioning for roles, she should read this book, circle a date on the calendar five years in the future and—if she's still in the business—read it again. There are insights in this book I wish I had heard when first starting out, and there are many more ideas and questions I would not have fully understood until now. Good instincts can't be taught, but this book presents some great questions that should never be forgotten.
It’s about so much more than how one should choose a monologue—it's about every choice an actor can make before and after the moment he or she is standing in front of a table of strangers and performing, and how important (and neglected) those choices are.
“Who Are You As an Actor?” (p. 49) is incredibly important for new actors to hear—and something of which experienced actors need to be reminded: the time between auditions and projects is an active time. Rather than waiting to be invited to another party, actors need to be actively, constantly thinking about what they want to do, with whom, and to what end.
Because the craft of acting isn't a preordained path, many take this as an excuse not to make specific choices about what they want to do, and how they plan to go about doing it. Instead, the emphasis should be on charting your own course!
— Sergei Burbank
“All actors can benefit from the book. I already started doing the work.”
The book is a wonderful guide for actors to help them navigate the audition process. I love the simple basic equation to guide actors in selecting monologues. You have added so much detail, in easy-to-follow steps, that takes some of frustration out of the process.
I also love the goal of having 20 monologues ready to go so if you get the Question: “Do you have something else”” “Sure, I have 19 others—what would like to see?” PERFECT! And the "Hello, this is me" monologue as a calling card—what a super introduction for actors. It is actually forcing me to answer the “Who am I?” question.
Other specific points that will help me with future auditions include the aspect of not going in to get the job but to give. Such a simple idea but with such a big impact.
Also: read, read, read. I have so many "reasons" (excuses) for not reading as much. I feel less capable as an actor and less educated and therefore less talented and less confident. Also don't have someone else select monologues for you!
All actors can benefit from the book. I already started doing the work. I am researching those playwrights I enjoy, looking for my “Hello, this is me” monologue.
— Mike Batelli
"I will recommend this book to all my friends, new and veteran in the business: it is practical, while also being incredibly inspiring!"
I will recommend this book to all my friends, new and veteran in the business: it is practical, while also being incredibly inspiring! I am actually excited and feel totally empowered and challenged to love my monologues—all 20 of them—!
I love how short and to the point each chapter is—your book becomes a textbook which I can reference for any audition situation. (Thank you for that!) What I most gained is the feeling of empowerment and excitement about monologues!
My teacher Wynn Handman says "each according to what it needs." Your book teaches a similar philosophy and made me think about the audition process almost as a collaboration: I am willing to take in the specificity of the auditors' needs and the circumstances and then prepare so that I am able to treat each situation mindfully, artistically and with thought and care.
There are so many actors who despise auditioning because the monologue audition seems so mystical and scary!!! I will keep reading your book as a textbook, continue to use your website and put into use the tools I am learning from this reading and of course, from the process of working on the monologues!
— Heidi Jackson
This book is more than a guide to finding a monologue — it is true creative inspiration.
This book is more than a guide to finding a monologue—it is true creative inspiration. I am guilty of searching Backstage for auditions that do not require a monologue. Once I get into the audition room, I secretly pray that they don't ask me to show them something else. Then I only have one monologue to pull out, which doesn't fit every audition.
What this book has said to me is that I have the power to find a good monologue without necessarily having help from a coach. It reminded me how much I love literature. I was a creative writing minor. You would think this would be easy for me. You have given me permission and the power to go out and find a monologue.
Aside from the inspiration to take control of this aspect of my business, you have also provided key career questions I need to ask myself. One thing actors always hear is, “Define what type you are.” Your explanation of “type” again gives the actor control. You've encouraged me that it is okay to use my heart in a business sense—I have been using my head by trying to cram myself into a category I may not even fit into. This came from studying other actors, their projects, their look...but I forgot to include what I'm passionate about.
Thank you for including the “Hello, this is me.” I'm sure this will help actors starting out who may choose to go for the ultra-serious, too-dramatic monologue because they want to be taken seriously. We shoot ourselves in the foot before we ever truly get started.
— Joresa Blount
“In the first reading, I have already gained more confidence and perspective on auditions. It’s a guide for students AND working professionals.”
I am an auditioning actor and I work in the admissions department of an acting conservatory. This book answers many of the questions I am frequently asked. I wish that every prospective student would read this book. And, it would have been very valuable to have read this book before I auditioned for colleges.
The book makes it easy to set clear, achievable goals to get yourself confident and prepared for any monologue audition. Common mistakes are outlined along with ways to avoid them. No ideas or processes are presented without the reason and thought behind them. It’s a guide for students and working professionals.
Each type of audition is targeted specifically with ideas on how to choose appropriate material. Karen Kohlhaas offers up a healthy, productive attitude through the entire process. From choosing material through the audition itself, she makes an often overwhelming task seem achievable, artistically satisfying and fun. She shares her insight, experience and research in an accessible manner. It isn’t just a book about choosing monologues– it is also a handbook that addresses the process of auditioning on artistic & business levels.
Highlights: The “Hello, This is Me” Monologue—what a great concept and way to approach monologue work. The 20 monologue challenge is an amazing and fantastic tool. Liberating and empowering—take control of your monologue auditions.
In the first reading, I have already gained more confidence and perspective on auditions.
— Erin Soler
“I knew that I had gone through a professional process in choosing the piece from my arsenal, and I had a plan.”
The respect that Karen Kohlhaas has for the process of the monologue audition is infectious. Having been a professional actor for many years, I know a lot of actors who believe they're done with monologue auditions—that monologue auditions are for getting into grad school and finding an agent, and that the rest of the life of a professional actor will be reading from sides. Inevitably, these actors aren't prepared for the monologue opportunities that do pop up, and then they're working with hazy memories of pieces that worked for them a long time ago.
I had a monologue audition the week that I was reading the book. It was an agent call for a specific role in a specific play—but the creators of the play still wanted to see comedic monologues. I was thrilled to have Karen's book at my side to help me deal with the "audition terrors"—the second-guessing and neurotic self-doubting that can accompany picking the "right" monologue for an audition. The book helped me weigh the risks and rewards of doing a self-written monologue versus others I was considering. I felt prepared, I knew that I had gone through a professional process in choosing the piece from my arsenal, and I had a plan.
The chapter "Raising your Percentages." Is great to look at auditioning as not necessarily a referendum on your own talent, but as an opportunity to challenge yourself in the areas of the business that you can control. Have you been working on your vocal technique, your monologue staging, and your material choice?
I am thrilled that Karen's book is sitting on my shelf. She answers extremely specific monologue questions, like how to deal with accents, where to look for non-play monologues, and making internal cuts in monologues, that I know will come up again in my life as an actor. Change is a constant in this business, and the monologue that is my personal favorite right now may be overdone in two years. Karen's information is clear and comprehensive, and answers questions I may not have even known to ask.
— Joanna Parsons
“I plan on using all of the [self-assessment and goal-setting] questions you provide.”
One thing that I suspected (and your book confirmed), was how to pick the "Hello this is me" monologue. I've often made the assumption that the first monologue is the only monologue that I will ever get to do for a particular casting director, so I focus on doing something challenging, instead of doing something simple and short that shows I know what I'm doing. I should save the challenging stuff in case they want more.
I plan on using all of the [self-assessment and goal-setting] questions you provide. I think this is a really helpful step for actors that have been in the business for a while and feel like they have reached a wall. It's important to not only remember why you got in the business, but be clear about what goals you are setting and why. I do think about these things, but have yet to write them down. Knowing my goals and how to state them succinctly will help me prepare for an upcoming meeting with an agent.
Ironically enough, this past weekend I had the opportunity to sit in on auditions for a theater company and watch about 15 actors do two contrasting monologues. It was both horrifying and liberating. I saw many bad habits that I have done (hopefully mostly in the past), but it also reassured me that I have reached a point where I'm choosing more appropriate monologues.
— Jonathan Pereira
“I gained a tremendous confidence from the book.”
I gained a tremendous confidence from the book and will now have a set of questions I can continually ask to help me prepare for any audition. (Hey! That's the title!) I will make it a happy habit to go into the Drama Book Shop and ask the salesperson on a regular basis to give me her/his top five exciting, beautifully written plays. And I'll just carry them around in my back pocket. I will also reference the play lists on www.monologueaudition.com. Reading plays this way will build a familiarity with the writers. I will start going back to the Linklater weekly drop-in voice workout class. It's only ten bucks and so worth it. I will also take my long awaited dance class that I hear is the greatest—because I need to stay in touch with my easy-to-neglect-in-NYC body. I will try to hone twenty monologues—I will cull out my best monologues using the “Choosing Your 20" questions list. I would like to attend the Manhattan Monologue Slam in NYC on a regular basis to hone my strengths. I plan on using the "accent resources" websites for future character preparation. This is what I've gleaned so far. I very much enjoyed your book. You tell it like it is. Thanks for the honesty.
— Curtis Nielsen
“I was really inspired by your call to be an active auditioner!”
I was really inspired by your call to be an active auditioner! It was quite motivating to be told that an actor needs to be smart, well-read and active...I think too many actors think they can be lazy and parts will come to them. Actors need to realize there are people out there putting in so much more work than others and the ones who work hardest will be rewarded!
It's frustrating to hear, but reading as many plays as possible is really the best way to find a great monologue.
The idea of sitting in on auditions was a great one! I've done that a few times and it's so helpful to see what mistakes and great things people bring in—it's definitely something all actors should try to do.
Your book doesn't let the auditioner off the hook, no matter what their skill level, and I really liked that!
Mainly the thing that I would drive home and really took away from the book was the importance of being educated, well read, and totally and unequivocally motivated!!!!
— Sophia Takal