Break the Rules and Get the Part: Thirty Monologues for Women

Lira Kellerman
Applause Books

Break the Rules and Get the Part

There seem to be innumerable books of monologues targeted at ever-hopeful actors needing a special edge when they get to auditions.

Most of these take extracts from established works which, if nothing else, must get rather dull for casting directors on the receiving end. Wonders to think how often they have to sit through exactly the same words in days the must run on interminably.

In that context, Break the Rules and Get the Part would be refreshing. However, since Lira Kellerman’s approach is as direct as this slim volume’s title, any actress despairing over her approach to the next audition should invest.

Miss Kellerman may be an acting coach, casting director and talent manager based in Los Angeles but above all she is a rebel who loves to push boundaries and promote unorthodoxies, if there is such a word.

Having identified the nature of the monologue as an art form, she then runs through a series of rules that almost all readers would regard as givens that can never be touched. In her eyes though breaking the rules is a way to be noticed, for better or worse.

A few examples say at all. She actively encourages readers to ignore the following and much more

  • Be professional
  • You must look at someone when performing
  • You must serve the text
  • Women must only perform monologues for women

She is also happy for readers to re-write monologues if they do not quite work. For example, if you’re trying to convey hatred of a character, why not insert your ex-husband’s name? Similarly, changing gender as necessary might help you to focus and identify with your character.

The bulk of the book consists of 30 monologues split between dramatic, serio-comic and comedic. Each of them is short, taking no more than a minute to read or deliver and everyone has its own “Helpful Direction” page, aimed at freeing up the reader and explaining how best to work with the material.

Each reader can decide for themselves which monologues they wish to work with, although for this reviewer, male and not an actor, the comedic ones are less powerful than those in the other two sections.

To summarise, this book is a good read but it could also make the difference between getting a job and not. As such, it is strongly recommended.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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