Survey from www.monologueaudition.com



This list was compiled by a few of us including Walton Wilson, Head of Voice and Speech and Associate Chair of the Yale School of Drama; and Atlantic/NYU Shakespeare teacher Charles Tuthill, who also coaches many actors for graduate school auditions.


I asked Deloss Brown, who taught Shakespeare at Juilliard for years, and he said, “The problem, dear, is that these are only overdone if you are an expert. When you properly present any of them to a bunch of people who haven't seen them before, they fall over in astonishment.”


I agree, and let me clarify – I think actors should work on ALL of these speeches; you probably just don’t want to do them for your grad or undergrad auditions because everyone else has, and is. Like most overdone monologues, they are overdone because they are some of the best, and the most accessible. Most actors know Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet; fewer actors know Cymbeline, Coriolanus, or Henry VIII.


ALL Shakespeare monologues can be viewed as overdone because there are a limited number, especially women’s. But these are the ones we consider to be MOST overdone in recent years. Comments and additions are invited.



Before listing the overdone pieces, here is some good news: Thanks to the internet, it is very easy to find a Shakespeare monologue to work on. Go to one of these sites:





You will see that there are many Shakespeare monologues that are not on the lists below. The pages list women’s and men’s monologues with the play, character, verse/prose, act, scene, line number, and first line, which when you click on it, will instantly download you a pdf of that monologue. It’s that easy. Pick a monologue that appeals to you a little bit. Then go to:




If you don’t know the play already, you can read the plot summary at this site and find out more about the character. Then, you can and must read the whole play. The site (and there are many others, just search under Shakespeare) is also filled with facts and links that will enrich your understanding of the play, and therefore your performance.





All’s Well That Ends Well/HELENA/Then I confess, here on my knee

As You Like It/PHEBE/Think not I love him, though I ask for him

As You Like It/PHEBE/I would not be thy executioner

As You Like It /ROSALIND/And why, I pray you? Who might be your mother

Hamlet/OPHELIA/Alas my lord I have been so affrighted

Hamlet/OPHELIA/O what a noble mind is here o’erthrown

Henry IV Pt 2/LADY PERCY/O yet, for God's sake, go not to these wars!

Julius Caesar/PORTIA/Nor for yours neither. You've ungently Brutus

Julius Caesar/PORTIA/Is Brutus sick? And is it physical

King John/CONSTANCE/I am not mad, this hair I tear is mine…

Macbeth/LADY MACBETH/Was the hope drunk wherein you dressed yourself?

The Merchant of Venice/PORTIA/I pray you, tarry: pause a day or two

The Merchant of Venice/PORTIA/You see me, Lord Bassanio, where I stand

The Merchant of Venice/PORTIA/The quality of mercy is not strain’d

A Midsummer Night's Dream/HELENA/How happy some o’er other some

Othello/EMELIA/But I do think it is their husband's faults if their wives do fall

Richard III/ANNE/Set down, set down your honourable load

Romeo and Juliet/JULIIET/O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou

Romeo and Juliet/JULIIET/Gallop apace, you fiery footed steeds

Troilus and Cressida/CRESSIDA/Hard to seem won: but I was won, my lord

Twelfth Night/VIOLA/I left no ring with her: what means this lady?

Two Gentlemen of Verona/JULIA/O hateful hands, to tear such loving words!

The Winter’s Tale/HERMIONE/Sir, spare your threats

The Winter’s Tale/HERMIONE/Since what I am to say must be that

The Winter’s Tale/PAULINA/What studied torments, tyrant hast for me?





As You Like It/ORLANDO/ As I remember, Adam, it was upon this fashion

As You Like It/JAQUES/All the world’s a stage

Hamlet/HAMLET/To be or not to be

Hamlet/HAMLET/O what a rogue and peasant slave am I

Hamlet/HAMLET/Speak the speech

Hamlet/HAMLET/Alas poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio

Henry IV Pt 1/HOTSPUR/My liege I did deny no prisoners

Henry V/CHORUS/All prologues

Henry V/Henry/Once more into the breach dear friends once more

Henry V/Henry/This day is called the feast of Crispian

Julius Caesar/ANTONY/Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears

King Lear/EDMUND/Thou, Nature, art my goddess

Macbeth/MACBETH/If it were done when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well

Macbeth/MACBETH/Is this a dagger I see before me

Macbeth/MACBETH/Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow

Measure for Measure/ANGELO/Who will believe thee Isabel

A Midsummer Night’s Dream/PUCK/ My mistress with a monster is in love

Othello/IAGO/Thus do I ever make my fool, my purse

Othello/IAGO/And what’s he then that says I play the villain?

Richard III/RICHARD/Now is the winter of our discontent

Romeo and Juliet/MERCUTIO/Then I see Queen Mab hath been with you

Romeo and Juliet/ROMEO/But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

Twelfth Night/SEBASTIAN/This is the air, that is the glorious sun

Two Gentlemen of Verona/LAUNCE/When a man’s servant shall play the cur

Two Gentlemen of Verona/PROTEUS/Even as one heat another heat expels



Go to

Overdone Monologues – how the survey was done and what it reveals

More survey results – more opinions and preferences on material choice

Men’s overdone monologues (contemporary)

Women’s overdone monologues (contemporary)


Copyright 2006 by Karen Kohlhaas

Survey from www.monologueaudition.com

Individuals have permission to duplicate or distribute this page if done so in its entirety.