What's Monologue Monday?
Updated: Mar 25, 2019
As many of you may know, I do not attend college. Instead, I train at acting schools, conservatories, studios, but mostly, I train myself. I had plans to apply to Juilliard, University of Michigan, Carnegie Mellon, and more, however I could not fathom spending about $300,000 on a degree I didn't need. For acting, you don't need a degree, but you do need training.
For acting, you don't need a degree, but you do need training.
I took it to myself to take into account the syllabi of these schools and apply it to outside training. That means, everything these universities teach their students, I teach myself via online resources. If I feel I am struggling with a certain subject and need an in-person teacher, such as Clowning, for example, then I find a class which will fit my standards. As of now, I am very much an autodidact, because, well, taking class after class can become very expensive, and oftentimes, for me, a waste of money.
I live in Northern Virginia, and to take a class, I have to commute to DC. With traffic, that becomes an expensive four-hour roundtrip commute, usually late at night. I have found that the classes offered in my area tend to hold me back more than they propel me. I am constantly sitting in class knowing everything they are teaching, it's become a bore. So I've taken it to myself to become my own teacher for the time being. With today's technology, a lesson is at your finger tips. I am able to study online courses from people who have trained at Juilliard and apply it to my own study . I am able to read endless books. I am able to read scripts for free. I am able to listen to acting podcasts, and interviews with actors themselves. I am able to study SAG contracts to learn how I should be treated as an actor. I am able to watch accredited instructors post their craft study on YouTube. I am able to learn amongst a group of Facebook accounts (40,000+) where questions about the industry are asked straight to agents, managers, casting directors, and more. I am being taught from Natalie Portman herself, right now, straight from my computer. I am able to practice my craft from my own diligence, rereading notes from my past training and finding discoveries myself. I am able to go out on auditions and book work (oftentimes you cannot do this if you are attending university) and learn from the casting directors, amazing actors, and crew around me. The power of asking questions is the power of learning.
The power of asking questions is the power of learning.
One of my first acting jobs, I was cast as the Lead. The Day Player on set was a NYU Tisch graduate. She spent over $300,000 on her education, to learn the same things I have. NYU Tisch is a great school with much acclaim, however she deeply regrets her time spent there to end up in the position she has. Now in my second year of my acting career, I conducted a project for myself. I wrote, produced, casted, and acted in my own short film, which I will now distribute to festivals around the world. Extreme education right there. This past year, I have been cast in over 20 different productions. If I were at a university right now, I would not even be able to audition for school productions yet.
Here's How Monologue Mondays Work
My homework is to watch a movie every night, or a few episodes of a TV show and to truly observe and take note of not only the acting, but the directing, the screenwriting, the cinematography, the score, and more. I am a very picky movie critic.
I audition at least twice (usually seven times) a week, which has me diving into character's constantly. I book something at least once a month (this is a personal goal of mine), which has me developing my process to to make a character come to life.
Everyday I observe people. The empathy for people is what creates my job. I observe them. How they talk, how they walk, how they laugh, their heritage, their mannerisms. I am a great listener because of this! Hahaha.
For the past year, I have been teaching myself, using the syllabi these schools provide. I teach myself accents and dialects, I teach myself movement, I teach myself voice by warming up my voice with Linklater voice work, I teach myself technique, and so so so much more. Not just the craft, but I teach myself the hierarchy of this industry, and the business itself, which most universities do not teach. I teach myself how to negotiate contracts and identify professionalism and quality in productions. How do I do this? I learn day in and day out. I teach myself. For hours. I put 8-10 hours a day into my acting. I don't take days off. And, as far as Monologue Monday goes, this is my weekly project.
I put 8-10 hours a day into my acting. I don't take days off. And, as far Monologue Monday goes, this is my weekly project.
I find the best way to wrap all my studies into one by conducting a weekly project. As I have said, I watch movies every single night. To manage my self-taught craziness, I assign one monologue to work on per week. So:
1. I pick one movie I particularly loved that past week and read the script after watching the movie. (This is like reading the book after watching the movie.) Usually people do it the other way, personally, I like to challenge myself with taking a piece after watching the performance and detach it from their circumstances, their choices, their characters... their performance.
2. Within the script, I then find a monologue or a piece of dialogue that I love. I read the excerpt carefully, detaching it from the actual movie. I read the monologue as if it is a monologue alone.
3. I make up my own characters, my own circumstances, motivations, settings, etc. I create a character development. I work on dialects/accents if needed. I discover my process on that excerpt. I work on this monologue for a week. Then...
4. On Monday, I post this monologue on YouTube. I post it on YouTube because it makes me accountable, and, it's a great way for a Casting Director to see you quickly fulfill different roles.
Let the lesson be learned that you can do anything you want to. I do not study acting 10 hours a day because I feel that I need to. I do it because I love to. It is a complete joy for me to be the nerd I am and listen to Jake Gyllenhaal talk about his preparation for Nightcrawler all the while reading Larry Moss and teaching myself an Australian accent. Anything can be done if you have the willingness to do so and the drive. I have held acting as my career for one complete year now and I have been cast as the lead in films to the lead in plays to the lead in tv series. A Netflix movie I starred in is being released on Netflix tomorrow night. I got cast as the series regular in Vice Squad which is being pushed to major networks. I have written, produced, casted, and starred in my own short film which will be distributed to major festivals all around the world. If you find yourself dreading acting class, or dreading the process, then you don't love it.
If you find yourself dreading acting class, or dreading the process, then you don't love it.
And you shouldn't spend your time on it.
Now, I'm not going to say that everyone should do what I'm doing and the way I'm doing it. I am a very quick and motivated learner, so finding ways to teach myself has been the cheapest and easiest way for me. I wouldn't suggest this way to a beginning actor, as it is crucial to be able to handle feedback from teachers and act upon it. I'm not saying classes are a bad investment whatsoever, but for me as this point in my progression, I have out-grown the caliber of classes held in my market. I suggest training for everyone and I suggest taking an in-person class before ever beginning to teach yourself. Find what works for you.
Feel free to find my Monologue Mondays on my YouTube channel.
A new one will be posted March 25.
Feel free to visit me on IMDb to see the projects I have been talking about: www.imdb.me/christinahastings
Feel free to roam around and read some of my other blogs to get to know more about me and the acting I do!