The Casting Scoop

8 Tips for Mastering Monologues

Lana’s latest Expert column, courtesy of Backstage.

Lana Veenker CSAFretting over a monologue audition? Fear not. A monologue can be your moment to shine. Grab the bull by the horns with these great tips.

1. Keep it short. Just because you’ve been allotted two or three minutes doesn’t mean you have to choose a monologue that runs the full length of your time slot. A minute is usually enough for us to get a good idea of your type and skill level, so why not focus on nailing a shorter piece rather than memorizing more lines? Or choose two short, contrasting pieces (i.e., modern-classical or serious-comedic) to demonstrate your range.

2. Don’t go with the trendiest, coolest monologue. It’s probably being done a lot. At our last round of auditions, we saw a handful of actors performing the same scenes from recent films and plays. Likewise, if you are planning to use a monologue that your acting coach assigned you to learn for class, find out if other actors under their tutelage are also learning it. You may end up in the same audition room with three other Blanches or Desdemonas.

3. If in doubt, choose your funny, light piece. One tearful or angry audition after another can be draining to watch during a long day of casting. A humorous monologue well delivered, especially in the afternoon when energies are starting to flag, is most welcome.

4. Don’t slate like a robot; be yourself! If asked to slate your name or any other information, infuse it with your friendly, personable self. Some acting teachers grill their students (often kids and beginners) to slate the same way every time. Unfortunately, their slates end up devoid of personality—even becoming cringe-worthy—if all the actors from the same coach perform them like clones. We want to know that you’re fun, competent, self-assured, and easy to work with. Just make sure to demonstrate these qualities in your slate.

5. Don’t play the problem in the scene; overcome the problem. We tend to see a lot of Sturm und Drang in the audition room. Actors love to shout to the heavens and produce tears, but intense emotional pieces only work when their characters rise above their problems to pursue the outcome they are hoping for, despite the obstacles facing them. Wallowing in self-pity or projecting nothing but anger never works.

6. Choose a point of focus… Since you don’t have a reader or a real-life scene partner to play off of during a monologue, it can be confusing to know where in the room to plant your eyeballs. Rather than letting them float around aimlessly, choose a point of focus where you can anchor your gaze and direct your lines, whether it be the back wall, a seat in the auditorium at eye level, a lighting instrument, or just to the side of camera; whatever is appropriate to the situation.

7. …And don’t make it the casting director. Whatever you do, don’t force the person auditioning you to be your scene partner, unless specifically requested. It makes it extremely uncomfortable for them to look away or to jot down notes. It could even draw focus from your performance; at a recent audition, an actor decided to deliver her entire piece from “The Vagina Monologues” straight into the casting director’s eyes. One word: awkward.

8. Revel in it. Remember why you got into acting in the first place? To become another character, to move people, to entertain, to tell stories, to express yourself in ways you may not always get to in real life. Do that in your audition. It is a performance, no matter how short it is. Entertain, engage, soak it in, and make it yours.

Original article here. For more tips, check out Lana’s previous monologue article for Backstage.

Casting Director Lana Veenker began her career in London and, upon returning to her Northwest roots, founded one of the top location casting companies in the country.

Recent projects include “Wild,” starring Reese Witherspoon, NBC’s “Grimm,” now in its third season, and 64 episodes of TNT’s “Leverage.” Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke and Tim Robbins figure among past film clients. Commercial accounts include Nike, Apple and Nintendo, and international campaigns from Shanghai to Santiago.

Lana is a member of the Casting Society of America and the International Casting Directors Network. She frequently lectures across the U.S. and abroad, most recently at the Finnish Actors’ Union in Helsinki, Amsterdam School of the Arts, The Actors Platform in London, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris and Prague Film School.

Complete her survey to be entered into a contest for a free career consultation here.

She has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, MSNBC.com, MTV.com, AccessHollywood.com, and Wired, among others. Follow her on Twitter @lanaveenker.

Thank Grimm It’s Friday: “The Law of Sacrifice”

Don’t miss these Pacific Northwest actors on “Grimm“ tonight at 9PM on NBC.

Michelle Damis, Jon Bebe, Harley Castro, Nathan Reimer, Josh Rice.

Michelle Damis, Jon Bebe, Harley Castro, Nathan Reimer, Josh Rice.

Thank Grimm It’s Friday: “Synchronicity”

Don’t miss these Pacific Northwest actors on “Grimm“ tonight at 9PM on NBC.

Damien Puckler, Gene Freedman, Matt Shimkus, Gene S. Thorkildsen, Kayla Lian, Brayden Tucker, Josh Rice, Allison Tigard, Ivan Heimbuch.

Damien Puckler, Gene Freedman, Matt Shimkus, Gene S. Thorkildsen, Kayla Lian, Brayden Tucker, Josh Rice, Allison Tigard, Ivan Heimbuch.

Audition Workshop in Amsterdam with Casting Director Lana Veenker

Casting Director Lana Veenker hits the road again, taking her popular workshop for actors to the Amsterdam School of the Arts (AHK) on April 29, 2014.

Tools for Actors
presents

Master your Audition, Steer your Career

A Business of Acting and On-Camera Audition Workshop in Amsterdam
Presented in English by U.S. Casting Director Lana Veenker CSA, ICDN

De Theaterschool (AHK), Studio No. 605
Jodenbreestraat 3, 1011 NG Amsterdam, Netherlands

Logo
TUESDAY, 29 APRIL 2014
14:00-17:00 “Master your Audition, Steer your Career” – 89.95 Register by 11 April and pay only 79.95!

 

BUSINESS OF ACTING
In the first half of the workshop, Lana will discuss the business side of acting and reveal how show business works in the U.S.

Topics include:

  • Taking your career into your own hands
  • Making yourself invaluable to agents, casting directors, producers and directors
  • Productivity and creativity
  • Marketing and branding
  • Mapping out a strategy to achieve career goals
  • How to work as an actor in Los Angeles, New York and other American cities

 

ON-CAMERA AUDITIONING FOR TV & FILM
In the second half, actors will perform scenes from Lana’s past film and television projects in a mock audition environment.

  • Learn how film & TV auditions are conducted in the States
  • Discover what directors, producers and casting directors are looking for
  • Practice auditioning in English
  • Improve your on-camera audition technique

 

ABOUT LANA VEENKER, CSA, ICDN
Lana Veenker CSAWith more than twenty years of experience in the entertainment industry, Lana Veenker’s credits span the globe. Before founding her casting company in 1999, she acted in France, England and Venezuela, lived in India and the West Indies, and helped hire European leads for major studios and networks as part of a London casting office.

In the U.S., she has grown Cast Iron Studios into one of the top location casting companies in the country by working with directors such as Gus Van Sant, Robert Benton, Guillermo Arriaga, Catherine Hardwicke, Frank Oz, Tim Robbins and Sean Penn. Recent projects include Wild (directed by Jean-Marc Vallée of Dallas Buyers Club), NBC’s Grimm, TNT’s Leverage, Twilight, Paranoid Park, Gone, Extraordinary Measures, Management, Feast of Love, and several TV pilots.

Her company’s commercial division has spearheaded countless award-winning projects for brands such as Nike, Apple, Nintendo, Intel, Facebook, and Volkswagen, and has worked on major international campaigns everywhere from Shanghai to Santiago.

As a member of the International Casting Directors Network, the Casting Society of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Ms. Veenker maintains strong partnerships worldwide. She speaks French and Spanish, and frequently lectures in the U.S. and abroad, most recently at the Finnish Actors Union in Helsinki, Prague Film School, The Actors Centre in London, IfiF Productions in Vienna, The Acting Studio in Berlin, Studio Bleu in Paris, and in ports of call from Tonga to Trieste aboard the luxury liner M/V The World. A former expat, her passion is helping actors who live outside Hollywood to succeed.

Lana is an Expert Columnist for Backstage. Follow her on Twitter and join her Tools for Actors mailing list.

Please note: This workshop is an educational experience. It is not an audition or employment opportunity. The presence of a casting director is neither a guarantee nor a promise of work. As such, casting director will not retain, nor be given access to your headshot, resume or any of your other promotional materials after the workshop. This workshop and its facilitators adhere to CSA teaching guidelines approved by SAG-AFTRA.

Due to expenses to bring Lana to Amsterdam, all sales are final. If you must cancel, please find another actor to take your spot. No refunds will be issued after purchase.

Bring Tools for Actors to Your City!!

view all Tools for Actors Tour Dates

Tools for Actors
Mailing List

* indicates required