Good Audition Pieces (Jacobean/ Elizabethan piece)

  • User Deleted

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    Hi,

    So after taking a year to get some professional experience and extra training I have decided to apply to Drama School this year.

    One of the auditions requires a modern piece and also a Jacobean/ Elizabethan piece. I want to do something a bit different and not necessarily Shakespeare (or something of his that is less well known), does anyone have any great ideas?

    I also need a piece that contrasts a much more serious piece that I am doing for another audition- so am looking for a more comedic monologue that would show my versatility?

    If you have any links to the monologue online that would be great just to get an idea of the piece (but all suggestions are welcome!)

    Thank you!

    • 26th Feb 2011
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  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    It has been known that my one time audition coach, Mr. Simon Dunmore, actually posts to the forums here from time to time (he was most recently logged in to discuss his opinion on headshots), but he won't necessarily see this thread, so I will do a bit of promotion on his behalf. Simon produced a set of books (still widely available, I believe), which contain selected excerpts from Shakespeare (with commentary) that he deliberately chose because they are not overused. There is a female speech book and a male one. As he used to tell me, following a couple of decades' worth of holding auditions, he had grown to see the need to encourage actors to avoid doing the same tired old material, when they might make a fresher impression working on something less well known. So, one idea might be to get hold of a copy of his book.

    His personal website, which is at www.btinternet.com/~simon.dunmore/, usefully lists Shakesperean monologues that he feels are overdone, and perhaps to be avoided on that basis (although, as he points out, it's not *always* the case that you should avoid doing a familiar speech simply because it's familiar, if you are convinced it suits your casting and you do it well!). Seeing all the monologues listed might get a bit disheartening, although it may spur you on to buy the book/search through a complete works in unusual places for speeches that strike you.

    Simon also has a great list of playwrights whom he feels are good authors to use for audition. To some extent, with the Elizabethan/Jacobean authors, there are only so many that *can* be listed, but you will find all the names in an easy to reference manner presented here, and although there's no indication of what parts are available in which plays, it can certainly start you off on the right track to know which playwrights are available! Webster, Marlowe, Fletcher, Kyd, Massinger etc. might all be worth mining for underused material, and there are many others - you might even, at a pinch, utilise some Restoration era material - although you will have to check what parameters the drama school in question considers 'classic'. Some, it must be said, actually go so far as to say 19th century material is acceptable, or accept material as ancient as Greco-Roman drama.

    • 18th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    I was just going to suggest looking at Simon Dunmore's books, but I see someone else has beaten me to it!

    • 18th Feb 2011
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  • Stephen Moriaty

    Actor

    Try the Jailer's Daughter in Two Noble Kinsmen by Shakespeare and Fletcher. Act 2 Sc 4 and 6 and Act 3 Sc2. A lesser known play so hopefully lesser known speeches but very good.

    • 18th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Very, many thanks to Jane & Lee. And, I wish you both well.

    I've just re-read that second sentence, and it betray's my almost-crucifying Englishness... In spite of the fact that I have genes from all over this planet.

    Note about the Jailer's Daughter ("Why should I love this gentleman?"...): It is a brilliantly written piece of teenage-angst, but I've only once seen it done with real truth - out of a few hundred viewings. [If you're reading this, Anneka, it's you I'm talking about.]

    I would love - if someone would pay me a sufficient amount of money - to excavate the entire Elizabethan/Jacobean period for audition speeches. [Note to publishers: I'm not greedy. All I need is a minimal financial recognition of the time this would take me.] In the interim (for actors), Marina Calderone has already done some of these 'excavations'...

    Enough from me for now...

    Simon

    • 18th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Hi,

    From all drama school teachers and panels that I've ever spoken to (outside of an audition scenario)..

    they have all said not to worry about a

    speech being over done. it does not matter..

    if you do it well.. you do it well. and thats what they care about.

    I was offered places after doing mark anthony's 'friends romans countrymen'.. which everyone knows is over done!

    really just do a speech that you enjoy.

    • 18th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    I've read Simon Dunmore's book and it really did open my eyes up about what to pick when auditioning. Get the book, Alternative Shakespeare Auditions for Women.

    • 19th Feb 2011
    • 6
  • Lee Ravitz

    Actor

    Well, thank you, Simon. I don't think anyone would suggest that doing an overused speech is a totally misguided act...if you are confident that you are presenting an interesting personal take on the material, and that it shows off your principal qualities as an actor to the highest. Equally, when it comes to Shakespeare, there is no such thing as a speech no-one has ever seen delivered before: there are only speechs that are done in large numbers, and speeches that are considerably less well known.

    But three advantages to doing a lesser known speech are: a) the potential of making any panel take more interest in you because the fact that you chose an unusual speech is immediately memorable

    b) the possibility of allowing the panel to judge your own merits as an actor perhaps more fairly, because you are presenting them with a performance which is less familiar, and hence, one they come to with fresher eyes, and without too many suppositions about how it 'should' be done, or memories of how they have seen it done before

    c) The chance to, perhaps, locate a speech that actually fits your character type better than the usual speeches that are trotted out for Shakespearean leading men/women.

    In addition, I think Simon's work is especially valuable on the female side, simply because the number of decent female roles in Shakespeare is much fewer - and it is no surprise that fatigue tends to set in with auditions for female parts, as the auditionees invariably have to recycle the same material with much greater regularity than their male counterparts, if they are not careful.

    It is certainly true that drama schools often insist on an 'unfamiliar' speech simply because they have 'seen it all before' and want something to surprise the jaded panel during the drudgery of holding the auditions, if possible. But certain direct advantages can accrue to you, the actor, by choosing unfamiliar material.

    The downside tends to be that familiar material is much easier to learn and contextualise (because you are already half familiar with the central concepts); obscure material can sometimes be quite difficult to initially explore. This is the reason that Simon includes some considerable commentary on many of his unfamiliar extracts.

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Thanks everyone for their advice- I'm definitely going to buy one of Simon's books! What about doing a piece from that era in translation? Do you think that is maybe an option too?

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    I wouldn't say so

    They want to see your grasp of the language

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Haha, oh no I mean plays by Molière etc in translation. Sorry, I should have made that clearer!

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Oh! Haha ok good

    Maybe I'm the only one saying this but I genuinely do think it's best to stay with the Shakespeare. Yes most of it is overdone.. But I really believe it doesn't matter.

    Just do a speech that you enjoy.. Shakespeare is so amazingly written you cannot beat it

    Do your speech well.. And the way you want to.. And they'll want you :)

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Have you looked at Tis Pity She's a whore? Annabella is a great character with some brilliant speeches. And, it feels so much fresher than Shakespeare. Have a read....

    • 20th Feb 2011
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  • Kirk Moore

    Actor

    Yes, Mister Dunmore's books are pretty damn good... It made me search harder for something a little different... after all, the best test of how good a Shakespearean actor is, is seeing how they communicate the ideas and emotions in a speech comprised of language that 'is but isn't' english....

    It makes the people auditioning you pay a little more attention, if it is something they most likely have never heard before. Still it pays to keep some thing a bit more known in the old speech arsenal, though...

    I tend to use a speech from the anonymous (but possibly by Shakespeare! Or Fletcher! Or Middleton! Or Somebody!) untitled play otherwise known as 'The Second Maiden's Tragedy'... which is notorious for possibly being Shakespeare's lost play 'Cardenio', and is also one of the only extant playscripts in the authors hand to have survived from that period... Its also a stonking good story, with Tyrants, jealous husbands, cheating wives, multiple murders, suicides, ghosts... oh, and a touch of necrophilia, for good measure!

    Also I use Richard's speech after he murders King Henry in 3HenryVI, along with Gerald the schoolmaster from Two Noble Kinsmen...

    • 22nd Feb 2011
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  • Cathy Conneff

    Actor

    What is your playing age and your natural accent?

    • 24th Feb 2011
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  • User Deleted

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    Simon's books: bought! Can't wait to get them. Playing age is 18-25 and my natural accent is South England/ London.

    • 26th Feb 2011
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