Sunday, October 15, 2006

Monologues: "Worthless to Study"?

The same agent (quoted with a similar problem below) said to the same actor/client:

"This is a huge bone of contention with me. WHY are some acting coaches insisting on studying monologues? This industry NEVER requests monologues. They show NO interaction with another character and NO reaction to other stimulus. It's a waste of time and I want to know which acting coaches are including this in their agenda. If your coach is doing this, I want to hear from them WHY they think it's beneficial. Why waste you money on something that this industry does not even require and is not aiding you in your career?"

My answer to the actor (after a sigh):

"Where do I begin?

First: I am guilty of suggesting actors work on monologues. I am a bad, benighted, wasteful acting teacher (at least according to this teacher)? I hope not.

Second: Dear teacher; if your client/actor's monologue performances "show NO interaction with another character and NO reaction to other stimulus", I would say that the problem--at least concerning monologues (which are a form of acting...SEE Shakespeare's sililoqies)--may be that your actors may not be very good actors. A monologue IN REALITY is two people interacting: one with words and one silently listening and facial reacting! Just because only one person is talking (monologues is derived from two Greek words, MONO-LOGOS: one+words), does that mean two people are not involved? Didn't you ever harrangue a client with a long speech? About the need for better pictures, for example, or making appointments on time, or, more pointedly, the value-less-ness of monologues? Wasn't there an interaction (even though you were only talking)? Wasn't their dumb (meaning non-verbal; non-LOGOS) stare in fact often the very stimulus in fact that made YOU KEEP TALKING!!

Third: the reason I do this (encourage monologue practice) is because if actors need practice...and if they have no one to practice their acting with (or pay for classes) they can at least practice good acting on their own. And when I encourage them to learn monologues, I properly teach them that monologues require all the aspects of good acting as much as a scene (agent: we can talk more about that at another time...if you don't mind my possibly going into a long monologue about it)...even though I admit they are not the ideal form of interactive acting. And so I suggest monologue practice as a way to practice/workout when other more ideal options (paid work itself, class, etc) are unavailable. Monologue study is not a form of "wasting money" for actors. It is a form of perhaps SAVING THEM MONEY and/or creating a possible way (when they have no money for classes) to hone their craft!

Fourth: pass this onto your agent."


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