Brooke Horan Explains the Dramatic Monologue

Apr 3, 2020 8:15 PM ET

Austin, TX / We all remember the dramatic parts in movies where one actor talks passionately, uninterrupted, and at a critical moment for what might seem like several minutes.  Sometimes they talk to another character and sometimes they just talk to themselves, but it’s always with unbridled passion and deep emotion. “That’s a dramatic monologue,” Brooke Horan says.  Here, Brooke Horan talks about what makes up a successful dramatic monologue and why it’s important to a story’s success to get it just right.


“Some resources actually define the dramatic monologue as a long poem,” Brooke Horan says.  Romantic monologues were very popular during the Victorian period and used in quite a number of romantic plays.  Another type is the psychological monologue which is used more to give a glimpse inside the mind of the character. “The whole purpose of a monologue is to let the audience understand what the character is thinking by listening to the words, the tone of voice, and the body language, she adds.”  This helps the audience to understand the character better and enhancing the enjoyment of the story. 


A dramatic monologue is different from an internal monologue, Brooke Horan says.  Whereas a dramatic monologue has the character talking to another character or to himself, the internal monologue is done solely to let the audience understand the character’s thought processes.  “This is different still from a soliloquy,” says Brooke Horan. Wikipedia defines soliloquy as used when a character talks to himself with thoughts and feelings being spoken aloud, so they are shared with the audience, giving the illusion of unspoken thoughts. If other characters are present, they are simply disregarded by the speaker.


To create a successful dramatic monologue, Brooke Horan says, first, it’s important to understand the character’s point of view.  “You need to really step in their shoes,” she says, “and feel what they’re feeling at that particular moment.” 


Next, Brooke Horan says to determine why this character is coming out with the monologue at that particular time.  Why did the character do the monologue then as opposed to another time?  When you figure out what their purpose is and how they think, Brooke says, it makes your job as a performer that much easier. 


Lastly, Brooke Horan says the dramatic monologue is, well, dramatic.  Since it’s almost always used during times of intense emotion in the story, it should be performed that way.  “However, once you understand the character’s feelings and motivation, Brooke Horan adds, you’ll be better able to express those feelings.”

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