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Women's monologues - Shakespeare 
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Tony Winner
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Post Women's monologues - Shakespeare
For my university auditions, one of the requirements is a 'classical' monologue, and instantly I thought that Shakespeare would be a good choice to contrast with my modern speech.
However, I can't really think of any women's speeches from Shakespeare off the top of my head (apart from Portia in the Merchant of Venice with "the quality of mercy is not strained"). I can only think of great male speeches!
I would be extremely grateful if anyone could recommend a speech or two to me. I am 17 years old, and auditioning for Musical Theatre courses if that helps at all.
Thanks in advance.

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:42 am
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Haha I was just having this conversation with Coreyjay yesterday!


How about one of Lady Macbeth's soliloqouys in Macbeth? Theres some pretty interesting stuff there...

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:54 am
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You're 17? Try:

Helena (Alls Well That Ends Well)
Imogen (Cymbeline)
Isabella (Measure for Measure)
Marina (Pericles)
Miranda (Tempest)
Constance (King John) [Maybe..]
Lady Anne (Richard III)
Cordelia (King Lear)

If you let us know more so what type you are, engenue, leading lady, character, etc, I can give more tailored suggestions.

But I just opened my complete works, went through the list of plays, and listed characters that might be age appropriate, and AREN'T Ophelia, Desdemona, Rosalind, etc...


Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:08 am
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LaurelDP wrote:
You're 17? Try:

Helena (Alls Well That Ends Well)
Imogen (Cymbeline)
Isabella (Measure for Measure)
Marina (Pericles)
Miranda (Tempest)
Constance (King John) [Maybe..]
Lady Anne (Richard III)
Cordelia (King Lear)

If you let us know more so what type you are, engenue, leading lady, character, etc, I can give more tailored suggestions.

But I just opened my complete works, went through the list of plays, and listed characters that might be age appropriate, and AREN'T Ophelia, Desdemona, Rosalind, etc...


Actually, that's a good question. In a years time I will be in the same situation, auditioning for MT and acting courses.

Do chosen monologues have to be age appropriate?

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:16 am
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fjays wrote:
LaurelDP wrote:
You're 17? Try:

Helena (Alls Well That Ends Well)
Imogen (Cymbeline)
Isabella (Measure for Measure)
Marina (Pericles)
Miranda (Tempest)
Constance (King John) [Maybe..]
Lady Anne (Richard III)
Cordelia (King Lear)

If you let us know more so what type you are, engenue, leading lady, character, etc, I can give more tailored suggestions.

But I just opened my complete works, went through the list of plays, and listed characters that might be age appropriate, and AREN'T Ophelia, Desdemona, Rosalind, etc...


Actually, that's a good question. In a years time I will be in the same situation, auditioning for MT and acting courses.

Do chosen monologues have to be age appropriate?


It's generally a good idea to choose age appropriate material.
But it all depends.

Myself, I read much older than my actual age. So my options are pretty wide.

If you're really young looking, I think going into an audition and presenting something like Tamora, or some old Queen is just going to be strange and may unfortunately get you laughed at.

I'd say even if given permission to not do age appropriate to at least keep it in the realm of reality. If you're obviously an Ophelia don't go trying to be Volumnia.


Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:37 am
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LaurelDP wrote:
You're 17? Try:

Helena (Alls Well That Ends Well)
Imogen (Cymbeline)
Isabella (Measure for Measure)
Marina (Pericles)
Miranda (Tempest)
Constance (King John) [Maybe..]
Lady Anne (Richard III)
Cordelia (King Lear)

If you let us know more so what type you are, engenue, leading lady, character, etc, I can give more tailored suggestions.

But I just opened my complete works, went through the list of plays, and listed characters that might be age appropriate, and AREN'T Ophelia, Desdemona, Rosalind, etc...


I love Imogen's stuff. I used one of her monologues for my Othello audition. As soon as I told the director what I was doing, she literally clapped and went, "Oh, thank you for choosing a more obscure play!" And apparently, it worked :P

But anyway, back to your question -- I agree with Laurel's advice. Age-appropriate, less well known pieces will do you favours. May I suggest, however, that if you aren't specifically required to do Shakespeare that you also explore other playwrights? Most people, on hearing "classical monologue" jump straight to the Bard because they're familiar with his works, they're easy to find and, let's face it, they're good. However, if you perform something written by one of his contemporaries, have a look into Greek drama (The Trojan Women, for example, is chockers with female monologues for all ages), or anything else along those lines, it shows the panel that you have a broader knowledge of theatre. Just an idea -- ultimately, though, it all comes down to what you feel you can do best :)


Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:10 am
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the youngest girl on my course used Imogen's "O for a horse with wings" speech from act 3, scene 2 of Cymbeline. i think it's lovely:

O, for a horse with wings! Hear'st thou, Pisanio?
He is at Milford-Haven: read, and tell me
How far 'tis thither. If one of mean affairs
May plod it in a week, why may not I
Glide thither in a day? Then, true Pisanio,--
Who long'st, like me, to see thy lord; who long'st,--
let me bate,-but not like me--yet long'st,
But in a fainter kind:--O, not like me;
For mine's beyond beyond--say, and speak thick;
Love's counsellor should fill the bores of hearing,
To the smothering of the sense--how far it is
To this same blessed Milford: and by the way
Tell me how Wales was made so happy as
To inherit such a haven: but first of all,
How we may steal from hence, and for the gap
That we shall make in time, from our hence-going
And our return, to excuse: but first, how get hence:
Why should excuse be born or e'er begot?
We'll talk of that hereafter. Prithee, speak,
How many score of miles may we well ride
'Twixt hour and hour?

i've also used a cutting of Julia's from Two Gentlemen of Verona that i really like (from act 2, scene 7):

O, know'st thou not his looks are my soul's food?
Pity the dearth that I have pined in,
By longing for that food so long a time.
Didst thou but know the inly touch of love,
Thou wouldst as soon go kindle fire with snow
As seek to quench the fire of love with words.
The more thou damm'st it up, the more it burns.
The current that with gentle murmur glides,
Thou know'st, being stopp'd, impatiently doth rage;
But when his fair course is not hindered,
He makes sweet music with the enamell'ed stones,
Giving a gentle kiss to every sedge
He overtaketh in his pilgrimage,
And so by many winding nooks he strays
With willing sport to the wild ocean.
Then let me go and hinder not my course
I'll be as patient as a gentle stream
And make a pastime of each weary step,
Till the last step have brought me to my love;
And there I'll rest, as after much turmoil
A blessed soul doth in Elysium.

and i will echo brackynn and say that classical also doesn't mean you have to do shakespeare. look at She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith (both Miss Hardcastle and Miss Neville are good young female roles), or The Alchemist by Ben Jonson (Dol is a great strong female role; she has a really awesome speech in the first scene that starts with "S'death you abominable pair of stinkards"). i doubt anyone would be doing that on your course!


Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:42 am
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Look at Phoebe's in "As You Like It". It's very good for younger girls.

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:44 am
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I know lots of people who think this show is overrated, but Juliet has a pretty great monologue expressing her fear of the plan that she and Romeo have set in place... it's right before she takes the drink, and she talks of being stuck in the crypt and it's great.. I use it all the time, and I always get told that I picked a great monologue.

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:42 pm
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it's just SO overdone. really, just about all of shakespeare's women are overdone...i think you're better off staying away from something that's that played, especially when you're on a theatre course (even if it's musical theatre).


Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:46 pm
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I agree.

I'm all onboard for the "overdone shmoverdone" camp, but when I say that I'm thinking overdone like Lady Percy or Portia in Caesar.

Not "quoted in our every day lexicons" overdone. "Required school reading" overdone.


Mon Sep 28, 2009 12:52 pm
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Portia's monologue (Man's mind, woman's might) in Julius Caesar?

I just now realized that there's a character named Portia in two of Shakespeare's plays! It just slapped me in the face now even though I read both plays years ago... #-o

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Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:58 pm
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