There I was, a young actor with my first big monologue in a stage production. Needless to say, I had a myriad of emotions fluttering through my mind (and stomach). Before my first rehearsal, I spent a significant amount of time memorizing the lines and performing character analysis; however, something was missing – I just couldn’t put my finger on it.
Arriving at the rehearsal, the butterflies in my stomach turned into hawks and the peering eyes of my fellow actors and the director did nothing to calm my nerves. I stood, closed my eyes and began to deliver the lengthy monologue.
Fast-forward four minutes later – the monologue was finished. I had done it. I had said every line correctly. Pleased with my own “accomplishment” I beamed at the director who looked at me over his steel-framed glasses and didn’t say a word. He was eying me down.
My feeling of accomplishment soon melted and an overwhelming sensation of embarrassment took its place. What have I done wrong? Did I mispronounce my words? Was my zipper undone?
After what felt like an eternity, he removed his glasses, stood to his feet and said, “Where did your motivation go? You had it at the beginning, but it soon fizzled out.” That made my mind begin to swirl as I prepared to absorb a fascinating and advanced acting technique from a world-class director.
As an actor, you must be able to maintain your emotional and physical motivation throughout long speeches and monologues in order to seamlessly guide the story.
Breakdown the Monologue/Speech
Many times, when an actor approaches a monologue or speech they simply begin memorizing the lines; however, this approach will not allow you to keep the motivation throughout the entire duration of speaking. Break up the block of text based on the emotional ebbs and flows of the monologue/speech.
After doing so, write down the motivation for each block. This will help you physically see the motivation of your character within the block of text.