Home Acting Find out how to Reduce Down a Monologue or Scene

Find out how to Reduce Down a Monologue or Scene

Find out how to Reduce Down a Monologue or Scene


American creator William Faulkner is mostly thought to have coined the phrase “kill your darlings”: a now-popular piece of knowledge handed to writers about slicing the elements of their work they may love however don’t actually need. It seems like brutal recommendation, but it surely’s all the time for the betterment of the bigger work; and lately, within the age of the auto-save, it’s not like you possibly can’t undo your homicide with a number of, alternative keystrokes.

As an actor, it’s essential to learn to lower down a monologue or scene. You would possibly need to make the right script work for an audition, or maybe shave essential seconds off a possible showreel piece. When making cuts, all the time make sure the intention of the scene continues to be obvious, the character’s voice is evident and that you simply’ve not misplaced the ‘spirit’ of the writing.

Sounds simple sufficient, proper? It’s not like their your darlings that you simply’re killing… However actors come to me with questions on slicing down scripts on a regular basis; there’s all the time a real worry that you simply would possibly lower the ‘fallacious’ bit or it should lose what they beloved about it within the first place. So this text will provide you with a number of pointers, and even take you thru a few examples.

Why Reduce Down a Monologue or Scene?

In brief? Size. The size of a monologue or scene is all the time going to be an enemy of the actor, particularly in an audition context. They battle the schedule, or brief consideration span of potential brokers and collaborators, or the casting agent with one other 139 folks to take a look at (who all, scarily, look and sound precisely such as you.)

Past the purely logical facets, an extended scene typically robs the fabric of its punch when not contextualised by the bigger story. What would possibly really feel like a breathless, partaking monologue inside a 3 hour movie would possibly all of the sudden drag with out the motion round it.

And that is particularly essential inside the context of your showreel (or demo reel.) Showreel scenes have to get to the purpose, showcase you (not your scene companion) and finish someplace fast and coherent. Similar to performing for a self-tape, showreel scenes are form of like their very personal style.

What to Reduce:

Chopping materials down from a monologue or scene is all the time a subjective course of. There isn’t a proper or fallacious strategy to do it, however there are some concerns you possibly can take note of to make the method simpler. We’ll discuss over a number of key fundamentals under:

  • Repetition. Do characters have a number of quippy backs-and-forths earlier than the scene will get going? There could be a repeated catchphrase, or any individual says one thing time and again to their scene companion for dramatic or comedian impact. Banter is all the time enjoyable … however do you want it?
  • Padding. Are you able to determine any pointless strains/exchanges in between larger moments? These are a number of the most expendable elements of a scene, and also you’ll discover them peppered all through even the best-written materials.
  • Lengthy speeches. Study chunks of textual content within the scene. Do they add to the story? Or do they rob the scene of its urgency? You would possibly be capable of get away with one speech that options you, however this must be earned by the bigger drama of the scene’s context. Are you able to get away with slicing some of the speech and never all of it?
  • Backstory! We’ll assume you’ve gone via your script evaluation course of, and you’ve got a transparent thought of your character’s journey, goal and the given circumstances of the bigger story. However if you happen to’re making cuts, contemplate materials that references different scenes. Do not forget that your viewers isn’t the professional on this scene you might be. Strive with out and see if it nonetheless works.
  • A weak starting/ending. Do your characters ask one another how their morning was earlier than they begin to focus on a deliberate theft? Does one character flare up on the different after which spend a minute comforting post-climax? Don’t accept weak or meandering beginnings and exits. They may really feel pure … however that’s not the ball recreation proper now. Begin the scene the place it will get good, and get out after the nice bit!
  • Motion. Think about making cuts to bodily actions characters carry out. Toasting drinks, lighting cigarettes, standing up and sitting down. All of those actions can waste priceless time

Remaining notice:

Above all, hold the scene ‘current’. It wants to talk to its personal right here and now, and never set one thing else up or repay in a later reveal—one thing that we’re by no means going to see. Let it stand by itself, and deal with the person needs and goals of the characters. That is the place the drama of the second comes from.

Case Examine: “Wendy & Sam”

Let’s take a look at a scene for some examples of the above slicing strategies. We’ll add the unique, untouched model, so you possibly can have a go at making your personal cuts:

Cut Down a Monologue or Scene

Observe that if you happen to adopted each course within the above script, there’d most likely solely be a number of strains left! So do train some restraint. And, as quickly as you possibly can, learn via the scene with a fellow actor and for an viewers unaware of the unique materials. Chances are you’ll even end up placing bits again in.

When can I Add to a Monologue or Scene?

Ooft. It is a difficult one. Except it’s an audition facet you’ve been despatched—wherein case the reply is “Add as a lot as you don’t need to get the job!”—there isn’t technically something fallacious with including a phrase right here or there. However I’d strongly advocate in opposition to it. ’trigger the place does it finish?

There are many causes you would possibly add one thing to a scene: to talk to the broader context, to a personality quirk the viewers would possibly discover entertaining. It may need one thing to do with an earlier scene that provides this monologue dramatic irony. Or possibly you suppose the character comes off in a foul gentle on this specific second and also you need to take one thing from later within the story after they turn out to be extra sympathetic.

Nonetheless, none of that is what the author supposed. At no level, in all their years of engaged on this story, did they ever suppose your addition wanted to be there. If it did, they’d have written it already. Because of this additions are dangerous information. Chopping a script would possibly really feel such as you’re disrespecting the author, however no less than you’re not diluting their phrases with your personal.

Making Modifications

Making modifications to a script isn’t fairly as blasphemous as including issues. That mentioned, it’s nonetheless essential to watch out and to take action with good purpose. Altering the pronouns of a personality to go well with you, and maybe a reputation or two in the identical vein, isn’t a lot of an issue. In reality, lots of the scenes on StageMilk’s very personal follow scripts for actors and follow monologues for actors are gender impartial to avoid this want completely.

Nonetheless, altering a personality’s job description, or the best way they they convey within the scene, can modify issues enormously. Script evaluation tells us that each phrase on the web page, each punctuation mark, is value interrogation. So chances are high, if you happen to’re altering issues, you’re pretty much as good as weakening the script—even with one of the best intentions.

Finally, the scenario dictates. If a number of small modifications are going that will help you higher join with the fabric, go for it. However one of the best piece of recommendation is to keep away from including to the fabric: make what’s already there work. As an actor, it’s form of your total job.

Can I Write my very own Monologue or Scene?

Hells yeah you possibly can! If all else fails along with your modifying efforts—if you happen to’re making extra cuts than Sweeney Todd and including extra strains than the unique creator—writing one thing unique is all the time an possibility. We speak about writing for your self loads on StageMilk, as we predict having a author’s perspective as an actor is a useful talent set. So we’ll depart a number of good sources under so that you can peruse if you happen to’re pondering of sitting at a typewriter and bleeding:


Let me depart you with this thought: it’s not strictly ‘slicing’ that you simply’re doing to a script. It’s modifying. Any author will let you know that modifying—whereas robust at one of the best of instances—isn’t any much less a part of the artistic course of. Very often, it’s the time when the piece lastly comes collectively and turns into its greatest model. So if you go to chop down a monologue or scene, keep in mind to respect the textual content: respect its ‘spirit’ and that means. Should you do this, you’re positive to maintain the great things each time.

Good luck!



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