To celebrate the release of our new collection The Audition: Monologues with Direction we invited the author of all 52 monologues— the brilliant Jon Jory— back to share some of his insights as both a master director and theater educator.
Picking the right audition monologue for a student actor can feel like an impossible task— let alone for a whole class of eager theater students! Jon’s direction will help you choose the right audition pieces, use them them to build these young actors’ skills, and make them most of them in the classroom. The Audition includes Jon's original monologues, his direction and suggestions, plus 10 Shakespeare monologues and tips for helping theater students tackle the Bard!
Now, without further ado, the master himself: Jon Jory!
The Teacher and the Audition
During my long years as an Artistic Director, I must have seen at least a hundred thousand auditions. Frankly it was kind of a nightmare and— shhhh, don’t tell!— I sort of dreaded them. Then I began a teaching career and they became my best friend. Audition material is a blessing in the classroom. Let me count the ways.
1. Finding the piece
Well, obviously, students are always asking us to help them find audition pieces. It’s incredibly time consuming, right? And those books?! I have one that has a thousand audition pieces and I must have two dozen books. By the time I’ve looked through a couple of books I’m dazed and it’s eleven o’clock at night. Help! That’s the first reason I wrote The Audition. With fifty-two audition pieces covering a variety of topics and genres— all of them gender neutral and just the right length— you might even be in bed by eight.
2. CLASSROOM USE
- First I have everyone, male and female, learn the same piece. This way everyone is interested in watching others work because in a few minutes they’ll be doing the same material. Almost any acting problem you want to work on can be taught through the audition piece. If you want to work on reacting put a second student on stage to listen and it becomes a scene. If you want to work on transitions work with the student on getting from one idea to the next. If you want to work on variety have the student mix loud and soft and fast and slow. Use them to work on believability, making the important line important, or physicality; the audition piece creates a complex small world.
- The students may actually learn them because they don’t feel daunting as a piece of memorization. You don’t hear as much about the dog eating their homework.
- Acting being experiential needs us to get the actors on their feet working. I will sometimes assign three audition pieces that everyone must learn as the semester’s work. If I wear those out I assign three more. It prevents the young actor from choosing scenes they are not ready to play. No more Stanley Kowalski’s to make you suicidal.
- They are excellent for making young actors understand what interpretation is and what it looks like and sounds like. I often make up three back stories for the piece, give them to different students, present them and then let the class discuss the specific differences they see and hear.
3. Managing time
Finally, I can get more done with more students in the inadequate class time we always have to cope with. I use ten-minute segments. The piece takes a minute and half and leaves me eight minutes to do specific work with the actor. That means with a class of twenty I can do individual work with everybody in four sessions. My great frustration is that these student actors long for individual work and there is never enough time. Plus everybody working the same material keeps everyone interested. If I have a class of thirty I might use three pieces, each one done by ten students to provide variety. You can, and will, mix this work in with your favorite exercises, warm-ups, and group activities.
Have fun and good luck!
Ready to find that perfect audition piece for your student actors? Click on over to our page for The Audition: Monologues with Direction and read a lengthy FREE sample today!
Download the complete collection for just $25 and you get a fully printable PDF containing all 52 original gender-neutral monologues for young actors by Jon Jory, plus Jon’s directing notes to make the most of each audition piece, and 10 Shakespeare monologues with vital advice for helping student actors tackle the Bard.
Ready for more directing advice from Jon? Click here for more in the Director’s Corner series.
As the Producing Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Jon Jory directed over 125 plays and produced over 1,000 during his 32-year tenure. He conceived the internationally lauded Humana Festival of New American Plays, the SHORTS Festival, and the Brown-Forman Classics-in-Context Festival. He was also the Artistic Founding Director of Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut, and he has been inducted in New York’s Theatre Hall of Fame. Mr. Jory has directed professionally in nine nations, and in the United States has directed productions at many regional theatres including Washington’s Arena Stage, San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theatre, Hartford Stage, the McCarter in Princeton, Guthrie Theatre, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. He has received the National Theatre Conference Award and ATA Distinguished Career Award. For his commitment to new plays, he has received the Margo Jones Award twice, the Shubert Foundation’s James N. Vaughan Memorial Award for Exceptional Achievement and Contribution to the Development of Professional Theatre, Carnegie Mellon’s Commitment to Playwriting Award, and the Special Tony Award for Achievement in Regional Theatre. He currently teaches acting and directing at UCLA.
Read all of Jon Jory's Stage Partners plays for free: