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With tips for selecting a piece for auditioning or performing a monodrama, analyzing its structure, and highlighting the moments that demand artful choice, Peters' guide to the form is just as practical as it is entertaining. He even includes mark-ups of actual scripts to show you exactly how to apply his ideas. Demystifying the Monologue takes you deep inside one of acting's most beloved forms-and one of the most difficult to master.

Read it, dog ear it, and leave the mystery of the monologue where it belongs - with your audience.


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Leonard Peters has taught acting in New York and Los Angeles, as well as at the American University in Paris and works as a communications coach with professionals in a variety of fields. He has directed over forty theatrical productions in New York, Washington, DC, and throughout the country, has served as dramaturg for the Midwest Playwrights Conference, and has written, directed, and produced two short films.


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In two weeks you will have a monologue that will demonstrate your skills to their best advantage, assuring your audience a meaningful emotional journey, and making the performance a gratifying experience for yourself. Believe it or not, this other person is just as important as you are- in a monologue. He or she is someone to play with and focus on, and therefore needs to be as specific and three-dimensional as your character is. The mom fully-realized the other person is, the more specific your relationship will be.

Start by basing the other character on someone you know-it will be simpler for you to bring that person into the scene because you will know how he or she reacts to things. Don't shortchange that character's thoughts and reactions-. Knowledge gained by creating the other person will give you the trust and faith that he or she will always be there for you to make your transitions real, clear and focused.

It is through seeing the other character's responses that you can decide, in the moment, what choices to make for yourself. First you must choose your character's objective-what you want from the other person. Your choice must be of life-and-death importance, because the mom important your objective is, the harder you will fight for it. The harder you fight, the greater variety you will have at your command. Don't arrive at your objective too soon, or allow your character to believe he will not reach his objective.

Never let the other person give in too easily. Take full value of your moments. The tension of this dynamic motivates you to keep going.

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Your character should pursue his objective from one emotional place the beginning , through a series of discoveries the middle , in order to change and find himself at a different emotional place. Act I The Beginning Where are you starting from emotionally? Your first line should be propelled by something the other character says to you, specific to the moment just prior to your speaking. It must be urgent and important to immediately compel us into caring who you are and what you are saying. You should create whatever specifics you need to get started with the right focus.

The discoveries make you aware of truths about yourself or, through a reaction you receive from the other person, a new dimension into him or her. Discoveries creme new thoughts that are happening moment-to-moment and for the first time, giving you new ideas about how to achieve your objective. Don't make decisions too early or you will have no actions to pursue at later moments.

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If you tried but did not get your objective, you arrive either at a a more desperate place, forcing you to find another way to achieve your objective. Taking NO action is an active choice-your character is actively denying the specific situation at hand. By choosing an objective and deciding on your path you have created the spine of your character and monologue.

Now your task is to put on flesh and bones and dress it up. You do this by conceiving a subtext your character's personal history , adding humor and opposites, and creating covers for your actions.

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Your character's personal biography and experiences in his or her life-other than those in the monologue-need to be incorporated into the subtext. If thecharacter is going through a divorce, for instance, it will be on his or her mind even if it is not mentioned. It will color choices and sometimes dominate thoughts.

Words are one important way we choose to communicate, but simple words often have a variety of meanings. Sometimes we say yes, but mean no. Ask yourself what you are trying to communicate. Are the words of primary importance' Remember that words are used to communicate only what your character chooses. Everything else-what you are thinking and not sharing with the other character-is your subtext. As your character seeks an objective in moment-to-moment reality, the subtext will help get to the next beat or action.

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Think of the subtext as the foundation for your character. The farther down you dig to reach his or her soul. COVER Immediately upon creating your subtext you will want to create a cover because you will feel vulnerable.

Imagine waking up one morning to discover your spouse has run off. You take your child to the school bus and see a neighbor who says, "How are you? Instead you probably avoid the subject and make small talk.