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An Audition Monologue, part the Fourth

The middle of my monologue has two lovely bits. First, the disdainful if I had feared death bravura, and then the triple my misery, my revengeful services and my canker’d country, ending in that lovely over-the-top rant.

Now this extremity hath brought me to thy hearth; not out of hope—mistake me not—to save my life, for if I had feared death, of all the men i’ the world I would have ’voided thee, but in mere spite, to be full quit of those my banishers, stand I before thee here. Then if thou hast a heart of wreak in thee, that wilt revenge thine own particular wrongs and stop those maims of shame seen through thy country, speed thee straight, and make my misery serve thy turn: so use it that my revengeful services may prove as benefits to thee, for I will fight against my canker’d country with the spleen of all the under fiends.

Actually, I have found myself peaking on canker’d, and then dropping down to mutter about the under fiends practically under my breath. I don’t know if that’s right. It seem effective, paying against expectations, but then I don’t know that there are expectations there, and I can’t really hear it.

The theater is intimate, in the language of these things; it seats a hundred and fifty, but it feels smaller than that. If I were in a big place, the iconic audition where one guy in street clothes is on a fifty-foot proscenium stage playing to three people in a four hundred seat house, I would play it differently. Or not—the effect of someone holding in anger is great for tension. On the other hand, I have two minutes to show some range, so maybe holding back isn’t such a good idea.

By the way, once of the nice things about this middle bit is that it reads very quickly. There are phrases that run together very nicely (ofallthemenitheworld I wouldhavevoided thee), punctuated nicely by sharp syllables (spite quit here then straight fight) that don’t require extra pauses around them to make them stand out. The first bit has, for me, a lot of tricky rhythms. It’s choppy, preventing me (or Coriolanus) from getting into the flow of the thing. For example, the verse line which thou shoulds’t bear me; only that name remains is extremely awkward. It’s meant to be. It works by being awkward. But it’s still tough to do. There isn’t anything like that in this bit, which says to me that Coriolanus has got into the swing of his speech, and now has to worry about being too comfortable, not controlled enough, and that brings us back to the under fiends, muttered rather than shouted. Or am I just talking myself into it?

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


Coriolanus has to convey that his love for his country has turned to white-hot hatred, and not give any hint that his passion might ebb or his resolve might weaken. That's what will convince his listener on stage, and convince the audience, that he's for real. I think that the final phrase is too important to hold back on, then. Better to edit the final phrase out than to say it too quietly.

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