The #1 Best Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Performance Immediately!
Have you ever struggled to know where to even start with acting when you start working on a new role, aria, art song, pop song, or any other kind of song you plan on performing in front of an audience? You know you can’t just stand there and sing pretty looking like a deer in the headlights but how do you go from notes and words on a page to an engaging performance? It especially isn’t easy when you are learning something in a different language, you don’t have an immediate connection to the character, or you don’t like or connect with the music. This Acting for Singers 101 tool is for you!!!
What Does Monologuing Mean?
Traditionally a dramatic monologue is define as, “a part of a drama in which a single actor speaks alone; soliloquy.” In this section, we are mostly talking about monologuing a song though. Whether your song is a solo, duet, or ensemble we will still refer to the process we are asking you to go through as monologuing the song. Why? Because essentially we are asking you to create dramatic monologue out of your characters inner monologue. We are taking what is usually inside their head and having you practice communicating that by bringing it outside your head.
Day 3 of this course is mostly about monologuing a song. Before we dive into what we will briefly touch on finding a regular dramatic monologue. Monologues are used for many different kinds of auditions. If you are preparing for professional auditions or training programs having a good dramatic monologue on hand is always a smart choice.
How do I find and choose a dramatic Monologue
There are a lot of great resources out there to help you find a dramatic monologue if that is what you are looking for. Here are some suggestions:
Note: If you are just trying to monologue a song finding a dramatic monologue still might help you get an idea of the flow of what monologue could look like. It might get your imagination some inspiration.
How do I Monologue a Song?
Step 1 : You have to have a clear understanding of the context. If you don’t know what this means check out this article before doing any of the other steps.
Step 2 : Complete the steps on Day 2. Especially the subtext and inner-monologue portion and translating the text word for word if it is in a foreign language or using words that you don’t understand.
Step 3 : Write down what you think your character is really saying. This should be very close if not identical to your subtext.
Step 4: Make sure that you follow a logical thought progression. Inner monologue might be a key part of connecting thoughts if there are musical phrases where you don’t sing. The more logical the progression of thoughts the easier it will be to make it sound and feel natural and bring the audience along the thought process your character takes.
Step 5: Apply the other topics in this section
Step 6: Memorize and work on delivering it until it is believable in both your body and voice. Use the people around you as mirrors by asking, “Is there any moment in this performance where you don’t believe that I mean what I am saying?”
Step 7: Match your monologue to the music. See Topic 6 in this section.
Step 8: At this point, you are ready to start learning your music. Once you have done this and learned your music you are ready to make the most of a vocal coaching and dramatic coaching.
But it takes so long! Why would I do this????
The short answer is that it might take more time at the start of the process (especially the first few times you do it) but in the long run, it will get you a better product in less time and with fewer mistakes. The good news is that the more you do it the faster and more intuitive it becomes.
Overgeneralization. Make what you say as unique to your character as possible. How would your character and only your character say this?
Speaking for the character and not as the character. Do say, “My character would say….” but instead say what your character would say. When you deliver the lines of our monologue you are your character. What you are saying, how you are saying it, and what your body language is doing to match what you are saying should be all the explanation we need.
Getting too complicated. Your monologue should be fewer words than are the song. The goal is to make your monologue as simple, direct, and emotionally potent as possible.
Not understanding or having thought about the context. Review the articles on context if you are struggling with this.
Describing rather than being. Don’t describe what your character means or what they would say. Say what you would say if you were this person in this particular situation.
Not making it emotional or worrying about it being correct rather than it feeling genuine to you the performer. Don’t worry about making anyone else happy. This is for you the performer. The audience will never hear this version of the song. Subtlety or complexity is not your friend when it comes to monologuing a song. If you have a complex idea then break it down into a bunch of simple ideas.
Not disciplining yourself to actually spend the time to DO IT! JUST DO IT!
Not writing it down in your score. Don’t make yourself do this more than once. Write it down. Make it so you can change it if need be.
Getting too tied to your context, not being flexible, or not leaving it open to amendment. The best phrase you can learn to develop your art is “Let me try it and see what happens.” If someone gives you a suggestion don’t take it as them saying you did something wrong, bad, or not good enough. Often when someone has a suggestion it is because they saw something in the performance that sparked their imagination and they want to see if what they came up with could make it even better.
“I don’t know”. When it comes to context and monologuing if you don’t know then who is supposed to know? If you “don’t know” then make a decision, try it on, and if it doesn’t work make another decision. “I don’t know” just become an excuse not to do the work. If what you need is time to think then ask for the time. Don’t give up your artistic control by waiting for someone else to tell you what to do.
Exercise 1 Dramatized “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
Instructions: Do the process above with a simple song you don’t have to think about musically. If you do it in a group have each person do it independently. It is always fascinating to watch
Exercise 2: Morning Papers
Instructions: Usually this is suggested as something to do first thing in the morning but it can be done at any point throughout the day. Sit down and for at least 2 minutes and up to 10 minutes wright without stopping. Write whatever comes you your mind. Be as repetitive, mundane, incorrect, silly, or serious as what comes to mind. The key is to not stop or pause in writing.
Read more about it here:
Exercise 3: Take the filter off
Instructions: Find a place that you are completely alone where no one is or could be listening. The just start talking. Don’t think, judge, or pause to analyze just start talking and don’t stop until 10 minutes is up. Talking out loud is important though. Just thinking it won’t work near as well.
Exercise 4: Dub the world around you
Instructions: Go somewhere you can people watch preferably a busy place with a friend so they won’t hear what you are saying or realize you aren’t talking to your friend. Your objective is to act as the voice for whoever you focus on. Be the narrator of the story, the boyfriend, the grandma, the kid, or whoever else you see. Be a one-woman dubbing show. The world provides the action and you provide the text.
Other Topics in this Section
Topic 3 Permission to Act on the Impulse
Performance Project 1 Dramatic Monologue Assignment
Performance Project 2 Acting to Music Without Words