A Practical Guide for Actors
By Karen Kohlhaas
FOREWORD by David Mamet
I’ve always enjoyed thinking about monologues.
Actors historically complain that the soliloquy form is unnatural, dated and impossible – “How can I talk to someone when there’s no one there?”
The soliloquy, in truth, is the most often-performed of dramas – we do it in the shower, on the bus, while walking, we address the boss who has wronged us, the love from whom we want a last chance, the parent from whom we want an explanation – we perform it before the event, full of resolve, and after the event, full of chagrin (“If I could do that over again, here’s what I’d say…”).
These monologues are not static but full of life. The absence of the other does not limit the performer in any way. (You will note that the great speech of contrition, indictment, confession, explanation, can be performed not once, but many times, refining itself magically with each repetition – we’ve all done it on that solitary walk.)
This book treats the monologue-soliloquy in its specialized appearance as The Audition.
In this incarnation the actor must not only choose an objective as above but devise a bit of blocking (thus acting, also, as a self-director), and, as if that weren’t enough, take an overview of the whole process as a piece of self-promotion.
The audition process is an abomination. It is, generally, a tool for unsure and unimaginative casting agents, and directors. But, turn it on its head, and we have, as Ms. Kohlhaas suggests, an opportunity to investigate and improve one’s understanding of script analysis, staging, and self-promotion. What a good idea.