What Is a Contemporary Monologue?

As of 2014, a contemporary monologue is a dramatic speech in a play written from 1956 to the present. Although some schools of thought believe contemporary monologues are only those written in the 20 years previous to the current one, it is generally accepted in the theatrical industry of 2014 that anything after 1956 is considered contemporary.

Within a play structure, a monologue is a speech spoken to another character in the play. This differs from a soliloquy, which is a speech performed alone on stage. Some of the more popular playwrights within the contemporary theater era include David Mamet, Neil LaBute, Richard Greenburg, Neil Simon, Tom Stoppard, Eric Bogosian and Teresa Rebeck.

Monologues are most commonly learned for acting auditions, whether amateur, educational or professional. In a typical audition, monologues are meant to last from one to two minutes and must always be memorized. Contemporary monologues fall into two main categories: dramatic and comedic. Actors are encouraged to have at least one of each monologue prepared for an audition. Many monologues feature a dialect or age-specific and gender-specific material.

There is an entire industry of monologues specifically written for auditions or acting classes. These monologues tell a whole story within themselves and are not part of any written play or script.