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How to Find the Perfect Monologue: Uncovering the Best Sources for Plays in London

When preparing for auditions, drama school applications, or simply looking to study and perform, finding the right monologue can be a pivotal step in an actor’s journey. London, with its rich theatrical heritage, offers a treasure trove of resources for actors seeking that perfect piece. Here’s a guide to uncovering the best places to source plays and monologues in this vibrant city.

1. The National Theatre's Script Library

The National Theatre's Script Library is an indispensable resource for actors in London. It offers access to a wide range of plays from the classics to contemporary works. You can read scripts on-site, making it an ideal place to discover monologues. The environment is also incredibly inspiring, surrounded by the energy of one of the UK's most renowned theatres.

2. The British Library

The British Library boasts an extensive collection of plays, from rare historical scripts to modern dramas. With a vast archive, actors can explore monologues from different periods and styles. Access to some materials may require a Reader Pass, so plan your visit in advance.

3. Royal Court Theatre's Bookshop

Known for its commitment to new writing, the Royal Court Theatre's bookshop in Chelsea is a gold mine for contemporary monologues. Here, you'll find published plays from emerging playwrights and established names, offering a range of voices and perspectives not always available in mainstream outlets.

4. Samuel French Bookshop at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)

The Samuel French Bookshop, located within RADA, is a haven for actors seeking monologues and plays. It specializes in theatre books, including a comprehensive selection of playscripts from around the world. The knowledgeable staff can also offer recommendations based on your specific needs.

5. London Theatre Bookshops

Several independent bookshops across London cater to theatre enthusiasts. Shops like the National Theatre Bookshop, Foyles, and Gay's The Word often stock a wide array of plays and theatrical literature. These spaces provide a relaxed atmosphere to browse and discover new material.

6. Online Resources

While physical bookshops and libraries offer a tangible experience, several online platforms provide access to scripts and monologues. Websites like Drama Online, Playwrights Canada Press, and the New Play Exchange feature extensive catalogues of plays from around the world, including works by London-based playwrights.

7. Drama Schools and University Libraries

Many drama schools and universities in London, such as LAMDA, Guildhall, and The London Drama School, have libraries with extensive collections of plays and monologues. While access might be restricted to students and faculty, public events and open days can provide opportunities to explore these resources.

8. Playwriting Competitions and Festivals

Keep an eye on playwriting competitions and theatre festivals in London, such as the London Playwrights' Festival or The Bruntwood Prize. Winning and shortlisted plays from these competitions are often published or performed, offering a source of fresh, innovative monologues.

Tips for Choosing a Monologue:

  • Know Your Casting Type: Choose a monologue that fits your age, range, and personality. It should feel natural for you to perform.

  • Consider the Character Arc: Look for monologues that have a clear beginning, middle, and end within the text, allowing you to showcase your ability to develop a character.

  • Research the Play: Understanding the full context of the monologue will enhance your performance, so read the entire play.

Finding the right monologue is a personal and creative journey, and ultimately you have to love it because there is nothing better than watching an actor enjoy themselves performing.

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