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Charles Long
Charles Long

How The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues Can Improve Your Acting Skills: More Than 150 Monologues from More Than 70 Playwrights

The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues: A Review

If you are looking for a rich and diverse collection of monologues from some of the best contemporary playwrights, you might want to check out The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues. Edited by Nina Shengold, this book offers more than 150 monologues from more than 70 playwrights, covering a wide range of subjects, styles, and moods. Whether you are an actor, an acting student, or a theatre enthusiast, this book will provide you with plenty of inspiration and insight into the modern theatre scene.

The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues: More Than 150 Monologues from More Than 70 Playwr

What is the book about?

The Actor's Book of Contemporary Stage Monologues is an anthology of excerpts from plays that were written or produced between 1975 and 1987. The book is divided into two sections: one for men and one for women. Each section contains monologues of various lengths and genres, from comedy to drama, from realism to absurdism, from solo pieces to dialogues. Each monologue is introduced with a brief description of the plot, setting, and character type by the editor.

The book aims to showcase the diversity and vitality of contemporary theatre, as well as to provide a valuable resource for actors and acting students who are looking for fresh and challenging material to work on. The book also offers a wonderful overview of the best recent plays for anyone interested in theatre.

Who are the playwrights featured in the book?

American playwrights

The book features many prominent American playwrights, such as Christopher Durang, Wendy Wasserstein, Lanford Wilson, Wallace Shawn, Tina Howe, Caryl Churchill, Athol Fugard, Beth Henley, Sam Shepard, David Henry Hwang, Harry Kondoleon, John Patrick Shanley, Larry Shue, Michael Weller, David Rabe, Marsha Norman, August Wilson, Albert Innaurato, Jules Feiffer, Harold Pinter, David Hare, Jose Rivera, Tom Stoppard, John Guare, David Mamet, Charles Fuller, William Matrosimone. These playwrights represent a variety of styles and themes, such as satire, social commentary, family drama, identity politics, existentialism, surrealism, and more.

British playwrights

The book also includes some of the most influential British playwrights of the 20th century, such as Harold Pinter, David Hare, Tom Stoppard, Caryl Churchill, Alan Ayckbourn, Simon Gray, David Edgar, Howard Brenton, Peter Shaffer, and Brian Friel. These playwrights explore topics such as power dynamics, class conflict, historical events, language games, and Irish culture.

Other playwrights

In addition to American and British playwrights, the book also features some playwrights from other countries, such as Athol Fugard from South Africa, David Henry Hwang from China, Jose Rivera from Puerto Rico, and Ariel Dorfman from Chile. These playwrights bring their own perspectives and experiences to the stage, addressing issues such as apartheid, immigration, colonialism, and human rights.

What are the benefits of reading the book?

For actors and acting students

For actors and acting students, the book is a treasure trove of material to practice and perform. The monologues offer a range of emotions, conflicts, and objectives to explore and express. The monologues also challenge the actors to develop their skills in voice, movement, characterization, and interpretation. The book can help actors to find monologues that suit their type, age, and personality, as well as to discover new playwrights and plays that they might want to read or see.

For theatre lovers and critics

For theatre lovers and critics, the book is a great way to learn more about the contemporary theatre scene and its evolution. The book gives a glimpse into the themes, styles, and techniques of some of the most acclaimed and influential playwrights of our time. The book also exposes the readers to a variety of genres, cultures, and perspectives that enrich their understanding and appreciation of theatre as an art form and a social force.

How to use the book effectively?

Tips for choosing a monologue

When choosing a monologue from the book, there are some factors to consider, such as:

  • The purpose of the monologue. Is it for an audition, a class, or a performance? Depending on the purpose, you might want to choose a monologue that showcases your strengths, challenges you, or fits the requirements of the role or the project.

  • The length of the monologue. How much time do you have to prepare and perform the monologue? Depending on the time limit, you might want to choose a monologue that is concise, clear, and impactful.

  • The genre of the monologue. What kind of tone and mood do you want to convey? Depending on the genre, you might want to choose a monologue that is funny, dramatic, or somewhere in between.

  • The character of the monologue. Who are you playing and what are they going through? Depending on the character, you might want to choose a monologue that matches your age, gender, ethnicity, personality, or background. You might also want to choose a character that is different from you, but that you can relate to or empathize with.

  • The context of the monologue. What is happening before, during, and after the monologue? Depending on the context, you might want to read the whole play or at least the scenes surrounding the monologue. You might also want to research the playwright, the setting, and the historical or cultural background of the play.

Tips for performing a monologue

When performing a monologue from the book, there are some tips to follow, such as:

  • Analyze the text. What is your character saying and why? What are their objectives, obstacles, tactics, and subtext? What are they feeling and how do they express it?

  • Memorize the text. How can you remember your li