Bella Vendramini

The Actor’s Book of Monologues

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From Bella:

“As an actress  -  I was forever hunting for the ‘perfect’ monologue both for auditions and practice. One that ‘spoke’ to me, or showed my range, one that accented the colour and tempo of the character I was auditioning for. There were some gorgeous monologues out there – but gorgeous enough – that everybody used them. Later when I produced films or theater, I would see hordes of actors filing in alternating between four or five good monologues -  and truthfully, it was enough to send you crazy – seeing Loose Knit for the seventeenth time (even though I adore it) not only warrants a Prozac and a lie down – but doesn’t get the actor the job.

So, I began writing my own monologues, and -  it worked a treat.  I was able to tailor the monologue to the character I was auditioning for as well as inserting the range plus necessary emotional journey that I wanted to explore. It was exciting to be using new material – and the feedback from the auditioners was great. Fellow actor friends started asking for them so I gathered together the most effective ones into a folder. I was at the Conservatorium at the Strasberg Institute at the time and “the Folder” soon  became hot property and started circulating around the Institute.

But – as a rule, producers and casting agents wont accept  ‘home-made’ monologues – my friends could say it was Aussie writer Bella Vendramini who wrote it when asked by auditioners. But it wasn’t so easy for me:

“That was a fantastic monologue, Bella”

‘(Shucks) Thanks!”

‘Who’s the playwright”

“Cough”

“Who?’

“(Repeat) cough”

The other thing that makes these monologues different – is the direction I’ve included with them. A regular monologue book doesn’t talk about the piece – and that doesn’t make sense. Direction for an actor is vital – it sculpts a performance, brings out the best, discovers it’s shades of light and dark, forces probing, confronts the actor, encourages the actor; good direction allows both the text and the actor to sing.

I know for my work as an actor, I only really reached the creative places I did with the aid and influence of multiple Directors I’ve worked with. You need a MD in a company, you need a headmaster or mistress in a school – you need somebody keeping an eye out on the bigger picture – and if he/she is particularly good – the smaller picture too.

The difference direction can make is immense. As Kevin Bacon says “a good director creates an environment, which gives the actor the encouragement to fly”. Jack Nicholson a veteran of the art – takes it from a different angle and talks about keeping his work fresh

“Even when I come up against a Director who has a concept that I don’t agree with, or maybe I just haven’t thought of… I’d be prone to go with them than my own, because I want to be out of control as an actor, I want them to have the control, otherwise it’s going to become predictably my work – and that’s not fun”

The holy grail for me, is working with a Writer/Director – because they know the material inside and out – they know the nuances of the text, they can explain the different choices, they can guide, help, encourage – direct you to where you need to be; both creatively and professionally. That’s why I wanted these monologues to have a few pages of direction for each one; to give insight into the text – into what it means – and the different directions you can go. It helps to give a freshness or an alternate view. Or if the actor prefers not to use the direction wholly, they can use it as a spring board for their own ideas and interpretations of the piece.

With each monologue I’ve included an analysis of the text, options of choices, how to insert Method Acting techniques, asking questions of you and guiding you to make the best acting choices you can. I’ve found that another use for these direction additions is as an ‘acting workshop.’ Im happy to hear that Actors who have read the monologues and direction have said they’ve found the direction useful for general acting practice/technique – as well as getting a first hand practical understanding of Method Acting.

STAY TUNED FOR EXCERPT FROM THE MONOLOGUE BOOK

Before publication I’m workshopping these texts so please contact me if you would like to use one of these monologues to work on or to audition with, it’ll provide me invaluable feedback.

Cheers, Bella