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Create a Powerful Monologue Workshop for Thespians

Aidan Kent | The Book of Will | Washburn Rural High School | Troupe 6193 | Topeka, KS | Director: Maeghan Bishop

The power of a successful monologue reveals key details about the character, builds a deeper connection with the audience, and moves the production’s storyline forward. Your Thespian troupe members who want to shine in the spotlight need to hone their monologue-delivery skills, and you can help them by creating a monologue workshop.

Sure, you could schedule a one-day intensive workshop, but an event like that requires multiple levels of planning and execution. Let’s talk instead about using your classroom and troupe time as a workshop setting.

1. Teach the Power of a Monologue

It’s easy for students to understand that performing a powerful monologue requires them to carry the performance without the benefit of interaction with other characters. And yet, like any skill, learning the subtleties that support a solo performance deepens a student’s understanding. The more they know, the better they can sink into character.

So, start by inspiring them with stellar monologues to watch, study, and review. Here are a few ideas to consider:

As part of this portion of the workshop, students research monologues themselves. Start a list of student-discovered monologues that the class could review together after they’ve honed their review skills.

2. Try New Performance Methods

Watching monologues is just one way for students to learn the skills they need to stand out in auditions or performances. They’ll also benefit from understanding how the piece works on multiple levels. For example, remind them to read the whole monologue first, and then read it again out loud for themselves. There’s power in both approaches.

Of course, for your playwriting Thespians, this exercise is equally powerful. Playwrights learn to identify elements of well-written monologues and how the language in a monologue propels their story. They can translate what they see and read in the exercise to sharpen their writing skills.

3. Make a Review Checklist

Once your Thespians know what monologue they’d like to work with, it’s time to enhance their understanding. Create a monologue checklist for students to study and refer to as they watch and prepare to present monologues. The checklist helps students identify how the actor they’re watching executes key parts. This could be a group activity in the workshop or an independent study project. This exercise also requires students to observe monologues on multiple levels:

  • Identifying the key parts of the monologue.
  • Explaining how the monologue deepens the audience’s relationship with the character.
  • Exploring how the actor achieves an emotional arc.
  • What appeals to the student (or doesn’t) about the monologue’s execution.

9-Point Monologue Review Checklist

Olivia Judkins | Divided We Fall | Torrington High School | Troupe 757 | Torrington, WY | Director: Christine Quillen
  1. The opening: Describe details that captured your attention in the first 10 lines / 60 seconds of watching. (Pick an appropriate parameter for “the hook,” or what it is that makes you want to know more about the story or character.) These details might include the choice of words, voice inflection, how silence is used, or the body language of the actor. Maybe a powerful detail is the monologue topic.
  2. The story arc: Identify elements that propelled the monologue from start to finish. Describe the character’s emotional journey through the monologue. Note details that reinforce the emotional changes like changing word selection and physical movements.
  3. The final result: Did the monologue’s ending satisfy you as the viewer? That is, did you learn something new about the character or change your mind about how you relate to the character? Did the ending change or affect your understanding of the character’s motives? Did you get clearer about the overall message?
  4. Watch for these elements: Surprises—were there any? Revelations—did a revelation change the course of the story?
  5. Emotion: What emotions did the character display? How did they display emotion—in words, body movements, or silence? Did the emotions distract you or support the message? Consider these possible emotions: anger, sadness, confusion, grief, desire, love, need, optimism, and hopelessness.
  6. Theme: Define the main theme of the monologue in 25 words or less. Is there a secondary theme that supports the main theme?
  7. Set: Was there a set? Notice if a prop was used—if so, why was it included? Consider how the set, props, or omission of them help you relate to the performance.
  8. Explore the power of the words: Consider the character’s language—how is it distinctive? How did language reinforce emotions? How would the monologue change if different words were used?
  9. Audience: Who is the character speaking to in the monologue? The audience? Themselves? Others?

Enhancing Your Thespians' Monologue Skills

As you look to build your monologue workshop, remember the essence of great acting lies not just in the words spoken, but in the emotions, connections, and revelations brought to life through them.

Encourage your students to delve deep into the nuances of character portrayal, to embrace the vulnerability and strength that comes with a solo performance, and to continuously seek out new monologues that challenge and inspire them. This workshop is not just about refining skills, but also about discovering the profound impact a well-executed monologue can have on both the performer and the audience.

Looking for additional monologue worship resources? Be sure to explore more content on Dramatics:

Patty Craft is a regular contributor to the Educational Theatre Association.


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