Most Overused Audition Monologues

Not an actor myself (I may have mentioned that), but if you asked me what the most overused Shakespeare audition monologue is I wouldn’t go with “To be or not to be…,” I think I’d go with “All the world’s a stage.”  You don’t

Viola and Orsino

always have to swing for the fences, sometimes a base hit is fine.

I just discovered that has a huge collection of Shakespeare pieces, including their list of audition pieces you shouldn’t use. All the greatest hits are there – winter of our discontent, Romans and countrymen, damned spots, as well as the two I mention above.


But there’s at least one surprise on the list: left no ring with her: what means this lady?

I left no ring with her: what means this lady?
Fortune forbid my outside have not charm’d her!
She made good view of me; indeed, so much,
That sure methought her eyes had lost her tongue,
For she did speak in starts distractedly.
She loves me, sure; the cunning of her passion
Invites me in this churlish messenger.
None of my lord’s ring! why, he sent her none.
I am the man: if it be so, as ’tis,
Poor lady, she were better love a dream.
Disguise, I see, thou art a wickedness,
Wherein the pregnant enemy does much.
How easy is it for the proper-false
In women’s waxen hearts to set their forms!
Alas, our frailty is the cause, not we!
For such as we are made of, such we be.
How will this fadge? my master loves her dearly;
And I, poor monster, fond as much on him;
And she, mistaken, seems to dote on me.
What will become of this? As I am man,
My state is desperate for my master’s love;
As I am woman,–now alas the day!–
What thriftless sighs shall poor Olivia breathe!
O time! thou must untangle this, not I;
It is too hard a knot for me to untie!

Really?  This is a common one?

People who’ve had to audition for Shakespeare roles, what selections have you used?  Are they on the list?


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2 thoughts on “Most Overused Audition Monologues

  1. I always use “Lord I could not endure a husband with a beard on his face…” from Much Ado and “False to his bed?” from Cymbeline! There’s so much out there, sometimes working around a few intercut lines can give you some of the best pieces!

  2. I bet the ring one is common because it’s a substantial speech by a female character.

    My go-to book for students asking for monologues is _Speak the Speech_ by Silverbush and Plotkin. It has a large selection with explanatory and delivery notes.

    kj (bardfilm)

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