Short monologues for actors are always in, well, short supply. While they are always useful things for an actor to be able to conjure up for an audition or showcase, they can be tough to track down. Even if you do find a chunk of writing in a larger story you like, you often battle to provide enough context for the piece—meaning you end up selling the monologue rather than your own talents. With this in mind, we’ve whipped up some short original pieces any actor can pick up and bring to life.
This article contains a selection of free, short monologues for actors, each under a minute in length. These monologues were developed at StageMilk and intended for use in auditions, scene studies, demo reels and self-tapes. They may also be useful in a showcase or drama class.
Alongside the monologues, we’ve included a few pointers on how to nail a short monologue, as well as some foundational reminders about script analysis. We’ve also linked out to some related resources on the StageMilk site. Finally, we add to these resources regularly, so feel free to check back in every few weeks to see what’s new!
Updated 27th December, 2023.
Why Perform Copyright-Free Scripts?
First and foremost, it’s a matter of ethics. Most scripts you’ll encounter are protected by copyright. This allows the writer who wrote them to feed themselves, pay their rent and keep writing the material you love so much. However, most actors aren’t using monologues or scenes for direct financial gain. There might be a paid gig at the end of it, but nobody’s being paid to audition. As a result, it’s extremely rare to hear of copyright laws being enforced for a stack of photocopies you’ve picked up at drama school.
So when it comes to using copyrighted material, our advice is to pay it forward if/when you can. Can you buy the writer’s work elsewhere, or support them on another platform like Patreon? At the very least, try tagging them in social media or reach out and ask for permission.
The other advantage for of performing copyright-free scripts is that the material is less saturated. Less people perform it, meaning that it will feel fresh to anybody seeing your work. You’ll get to put your own stamp on things, carve out your own character and journey.
A Quick Note from the Writer
Hello! My name is Alexander Lee-Rekers; I’m a professional playwright and screenwriter. I hereby give my permission for you to use the monologues on this page for personal practice, as well as showreels and auditions. All I ask is that you credit my work—especially if you post it on social media. (If you’re feeling brave, you can tag me via @alexnobodyfamous so I can see what you do with it.) Other than that: have fun, make bold choices and give ’em a go!
Free Short Monologues for Actors
Here we go: a list of free, original monologues for actors! Each of these pieces run between 30 seconds and 1 minute, and contain a diverse array of genres, characters and situations. The format of the scripts is the in-house style we use in our online Scene Club, meaning that they’re designed to be easy to read. If you like what you see, consider joining up for coaching sessions each month and the chance to read some fresh, original material. You’ll hear it there, first!
We’ve included a few details on casting and performance on each script below; each script can be downloaded as a PDF with performance notes attached (although feel free to disregard these if you like.) Just don’t let things like names, genders or ages stop you from trying out material that resonates with you. Take these more as guidelines than hard-and-fast rules. You’ll be the best judge of whether or not a script is right for you, and an age/gender swap/total disregard can be an excellent challenge!
Synopsis: Bird watcher Ash speaks to a fellow enthusiast about the origin of her obsession.
- This piece doesn’t seem like a pick-up … maybe that’s what makes Ash so cool. You clearly like this person you’re speaking to, so try to communicate that with how you speak to them, rather than coming out and saying it.
- Spend some time thinking about that (Pause.) That’s a moment just for you to think back and enjoy that memory.
- As you speak to them, can you read on their face how it’s going? Are they hearing you, listening to you? Most importantly, do they get what your intention is at this moment?
Synopsis: Charlotte has shown up at the door of a young woman who, until recently, had been conducting an affair with her husband.
- What was it like for Charlotte to meet her husband’s lover for the first time? What happened, if anything, before this piece began?
- Are these the words Charlotte thought she’d say? The blue cardigan is clearly her objective, but was this approach what she’d planned, how she thought the interaction might play out?
- This speech spans over two paragraphs. What is the significance of the pause, of the break on the page between each section? What happens in that space in-between?
Synopsis: Gus, working the counter at a small town diner, checks over the order of a once-acquaintance.
- Character relationship is a big factor in this piece. There’s a lot of room for interpretation, for the back story to inform the demeanour between these two.
- Think about the status of these characters: who has more power in the scene? What happens if you reverse the dynamic between them? How does it change the scene?
- The first half of this monologue is a fast food order. Don’t waste this: use this to set the tone of the scene and the attitude Gus has towards the scene partner.
- There is one written pause in the scene. But feel free to play with silence elsewhere. A character like Gus can use a moment’s pause to hammer their point home.
Synopsis: Preparing to leave for her family Christmas, Sally asks her roommate if they don’t want to tag along.
- Sally clearly has a lot of affection for her roommate. What’s the story between them? And what happened with the roommate’s holiday plans? Is it something to do with her family?
- What is the relationship between these two characters? Who would you say has more power? Is Sally doing a favour for somebody she feels sorry or? Or is she comforting a person she’s always looked up to?
Synopsis: Fen confesses something to their partner Niamh in the middle of a romantic evening.
- Spend time on the ‘moment before’ of this scene: what has driven Fen to this confession? How has the mood of the evening contributed to their guilt and made them speak this painful truth?
- How is Niamh reacting as they hear this? How does their face look, their body language? Just because this scene has no dialogue doesn’t mean it’s not two characters communicating.
- Pay attention to the sentence structure and punctuation in this speech: what do long, run-on sentences suggest about Fen’s state of mind at this moment? How might they be apologising, second-guessing or justifying with dashes and ellipses that interrupt their own trains of thought?
Synopsis: Three days after her mother’s funeral, Bella is clearing out her old bedroom in the family home.
- Bella’s dealing with a lot of baggage in this piece. She’s feeling pain and grief, but mostly guilt that her upset hasn’t manifested in the way she thought it might … or should. And while she says she feels nothing, the anguish of her guilt is probably the feeling she’s looking for.
- Who is Greta? Think about this character as somebody who makes you feel safe, who you can be honest and open with.
- As an exercise, try mapping out Bella’s relationship with her mother. When the words aren’t explicit on the page, it’s up to you to find a believable history these two can share.
Synopsis: Sensing a profession of love from her best friend, Harriet jumps in to let them down gently.
- Examine the stakes of this scene: establish the best- and worst-case scenario in this moment. What does Harriet stand to lose if this goes wrong?
- Where is Pip in all this? How are they reacting, what are they doing? Don’t be afraid to lean on pauses and silences in this speech; use them to check in with Pip.
- What was it that prompted this speech from Harriet? It’s one of the toughest conversations to have with a friend. What made them not only have the conversation but take the initiative?
Synopsis: Anthony, dungeon master of a table-top role-playing game, lays down the law for his unruly players.
- Anthony’s (a little bit) the villain of his own story. Think about his motive, his objective, and how that might justify his anger and the words of this monologue.
- Likewise: how do the given circumstances of this scene contribute to the character’s discomfort. Is it late at night? Where are they? What’s come before this that might provoke Anthony into anger?
- This piece is firmly rooted in the comedy genre; however, avoid making fun of Anthony, or letting on how ridiculous you might think his fervour is. For him, this has to be one hundred percent serious. Find his tragedy and you’ll nail the comedy.
Synopsis: Carlo speaks to a friend about his pointless hobby.
- Who is Carlo speaking to in this scene? Who might this speech be intended for? As an extension to this idea, what might his objective be? What does he want to gain from this person by telling them this?
- Do some character study on Carlo. This scene is radically different based on who he is: is this a high-flying litigation lawyer speaking, or a burnout who’s never worked a day in his life?
- Explore imagery in this piece: how does Carlo speak about the various ideas/adventures in this monologue? Is there regret in his voice when he speaks about the cupcakes becoming a business? Is there stress when he talks about stress? How does he change when he begins to talk about his new, useless hobby?
Synopsis: Floyd walks into a meeting room containing his cold, calculating boss, to chase a promotion.
- What does Floyd want from his boss in this scene? Is he looking to blackmail him, or is this a genuine moment of looking out for his superior? As the script doesn’t make it clear, it’s up to you to determine where his loyalty lies (if it does at all.)
- Play with pauses and silence in this piece. Give the boss the chance to respond. And when he doesn’t, how does that make Floyd feel? Confident to go on, nervous that he’s put a foot out of line?
- Is this a victory for Floyd? A loss? Maybe a stalemate? Think about what changes in this scene: without change for a character, a scene has no purpose to exist. Why did the writer show us this moment, and not another–perhaps when Floyd or the boss play their hand in a more obvious fashion?
Synopsis: Following a high-profile scandal involving her husband, Bethany addresses a crowd of reporters at the front gates of her house.
- So what happened? This is the first thing for you to address as the actor. As there is no direct clue in the text, it is your job to invent a plausible backstory that Bethany might be able to speak to.
- When it comes to John’s guilt (and how much Bethany knows/believes him), this is also for you to determine. A small change in this regard can drastically alter how this scene plays out. Whatever your choice, remember that her objective is to convince the media that he is innocent–no matter what her personal view or knowledge may be.
- Pay careful attention to subtext in this scene. What’s not being said, what’s being inferred?
Synopsis: Cornered by a loud, antagonistic man at his local bar, Mason stands to confront the individual.
- Mason is a tough character with a lot of status. In bringing that quality to life in this monologue. How does this manifest in the way he speaks, stands, navigates the interaction?
- Play with the given circumstances of the scene. What time of night is it? Is the bar crowded? How drunk is the person you’re talking to? And what happened right before this moment that caused you to finally stand up and say all of this?
- Do more with less. Experiment with pace, with pauses. Nobody with courage feels the need to flex it: it’s what separates him from the person he’s speaking to.
Tips on How to Perform a Short Monologue
The key to nailing a short monologue is making it feel part of a larger story. Your audience will receive no context, so whatever you can give them as to character relationships, story world and larger narrative will come solely from you.
However, don’t go out of your way to invent strange and interesting things for your viewer to be delighted/surprised/horrified by. Use script analysis to ground your interpretation: your character’s objective, their actions/tactics to achieve their goals, the given circumstances that suggest the time and place of the monologue.
One final reminder: every monologue is part of a larger conversation, a communication between your character and another. Just because you’re saying all the words doesn’t mean your scene partner isn’t reacting, feeling and acting opposite you. Even if you’re performing a self-tape and your scene partner is imagined: bring ’em to life for your audience.
Additional Free Script Resources
This article is the latest in our series of free, original script resources. So if you’re looking for any additional material, feel free to look at:
- Practice Scripts for Actors
- Practice Monologues for Actors
- Scenes for Three Actors
- Scenes for Young Actors
- Scenes for Four Actors (Coming soon!)
For additional resources regarding monologues:
- Script Analysis: How to Get the Most out of a Scene
- What is a Monologue?
- How to Perform a Monologue
- How to Write a Monologue
- How to Pick a Drama School Audition Monologue
Finally, StageMilk has a large number of pre-existing monologues at your disposal:
- Comedy Monologues
- Monologues from Movies
- Monologues from TV
- Shakespeare Comedy Monologues
- Monologues Unpacked: A comprehensive collection of Shakespearean monologues, including context, analysis and performance notes.
No matter the reason you’re picking a monologue, give yourself time to look around, experiment, see what you like. Remember that “the perfect monologue does not exist” and find something instead that suits you, that you can use to make you look good. Beyond all of that: have fun. Most delightful thing you can show to an audience.