Shakespeare Monologue Competition
for Students Grades 6-9
March 12 , 2007
1:00 Arrive at Imagination Stage
1:15 Warm-Up for All Contestants
1:30 Monologue Competition
Stage, Bethesda, MD
(click here for
directions and parking information)
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Guidelines for Students
This competition is designed to help you understand
a passage from Shakespeare. As you learn your monologue, you
will be both director and actor. You need to learn all about
this character. Once you do, the words you speak and the actions
you use will show what this person wants in this moment.
Choose a monologue
You should choose a piece that is 20 to 25 lines (or one that
can be cut to 25 lines and still maintain the sense and the
action of the piece). We offer some choices here.
Choose a character that speaks to you; you should have a compelling
reason to inhabit the character. Is it the character's situation?
Is it attributes of the character's persona? Would you be comfortable
playing this person? You might wish to discuss different plays
and character options with your teacher.
Work on the text
You must read the entire play. You need to understand the journey
of the character from the beginning of the play to the end.
The monologue is one point on that journey, and you want to
know where the character is on the way to the end. Then, analyze
your character, and use specifics. Who is this person? What
is s/he trying to get throughout the play? What does s/he want
in the moment of this monologue? What gets in the way? Is it
an external conflict or an internal conflict? The text will
provide you with the answers; be a detective and search for
the clues that will illuminate the character!
Prepare for performance
You will need to memorize the piece, but it is not a good idea
to memorize the piece until you know what the text means. Make
sure you know what each word means. Use the dictionary and
the Shakespeare Lexicon for text that is not clear. “Translate” your
piece into modern speech; this process will help you to connect
to the text. Create your “moment before.” What
happens to the character right before s/he starts speaking?
How can you create that moment? You must know why you are speaking
before you start. Who are you talking to? What do you want
from that person? What will you do—with both text and
physical action—to get what you want? Just as there is
a moment before you start speaking, there is a “moment
after.” What happens when you stop speaking? How does
that moment resonate?
Take risks! As actors, our bodies and our
voices are our main tools. Don't be afraid to experiment with
physical and vocal action. Our voices can be wonderfully expressive;
we can use pitch, pace, tone color and imagery. However, please
your own voice—stay away from dialects (just because Shakespeare
was a British playwright does not mean you need to pull out your
Before you begin your piece, you should introduce yourself, the
character and the title of the play. Then begin! You may use
one hand prop, if needed (for example, the ring in Viola's
speech or the letter in Julia's speech). Most importantly,
enjoy yourself and embrace the moment.
It sounds like a big job! To help you polish
your monologue, Imagination Stage will hold a workshop on Saturday,
February 3, 2007 from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
You may not wear a costume. You should think, though, about the
sorts of clothing your character would wear. It might be difficult
to be Helena in slacks; Caliban probably wouldn't wear a blazer
and khakis. Choose clothing that will help you move freely
and will allow you to inhabit the part. Don't wear anything
that will make you or others feel uncomfortable.
You must be a permanent resident of the United States,
and you must be enrolled in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th grade in
a public, private, or parochial school. You must not be a professional
or semi-professional actor (here defined as a person who has
received, or is scheduled to receive, payment for a professional
or semi-professional acting performance during the school year
in which the competition occurs").
If you are in 10th, 11th, or 12th grade, you
should consider the competition sponsored
by the English-Speaking Union.
Sponsored by the Center for
Renaissance & Baroque Studies, Imagination
Stage, the English-Speaking
Union, and the Washington Episcopal School.