Holding onto a gleaming crystal trophy, actor Vaughn Midder beamed as he stood at the center of the Miracle Theatre’s stage. He had just been named Monologue Madness 2018 Champion, winning a wealth of prizes including $1,000.
“It’s not easy for us to do this kind of work. To make [acting] our priority and our primary source of income,” said Midder. “I really appreciate [Monologue Madness], because people get to find out exactly how we try to find our work. This is what we do to support ourselves.”
Thursday night, March 22nd, 32 actors flexed their auditioning skills as they faced off in a 5-round, tournament-style, monologue competition. With a panel of judges—made up of local casting directors, artistic directors, and actors—scoring their performances, competitors strove to showcase their talents.
“For me, it wasn’t a competition. It was an opportunity to be seen,” said runner-up Reginald Richard. “To show what I have to offer to this theatre community.”
During the first three rounds, each actor had one minute to perform a monologue of their choice, bringing a variety of strategies to the stage. Some competitors garnished their pieces with props and costumes, while others kept their performances simple. Finalist Joi Bradley incorporated food into her comedic piece, munching on a chicken wing, a candy bar, and a goofily long string of licorice between lines.
And even though competitive tension was in the air, Monologue Madness participants displayed moments of comraderie throughout the tournament. Actors Alana Sharp and Lori Brooks, for instance, held hands in solidarity before facing off against one another—knowing that only one of them would make it to the next round.
This year’s cold read portion centered around a monologue from Christopher Durang’s Laughing Wild. Actors interpreted and performed the text, each putting a unique spin on it. For the last round, the judges gave adjustments to Midder and Richard and asked them to perform the cold read again. Midder’s outwardly bold choice solidified his first place title: he set his version of the monologue in an interrogation room, constraining his wrists together as though they were handcuffed throughout the performance.
“[The judges] said: ‘Raise the stakes.’ And, immediately, my brain said: Law and Order SVU,” said Midder.
Bill Coughlan, a judge on the panel, is a fan of strong choices.
“It’s about bringing something, other than what’s in the text, to the character,” said Coughlan. “As a director, I find that, when an actor brings something brand new that I wasn’t expecting [to a piece], it’s something that’s always the most surprising and the most exciting.”
Midder wasn’t the only actor who received prizes that night. Competitors who made it to the third round and on won a 3-month scholarship to John Pallotta Studio in New York or Philadelphia and a handful of other acting resources.
Vaughn Midder (Monologue Madness 2018 Champion)
Reginald Richard (Runner-Up)
Quincy Vicks (Made it to the Final Four)
Joi Bradley (Made it to the Final Four)
Clayton Pelham, Jr. (Made it to the Elite Eight)
Michael Wood (Made it to the Elite Eight)
Henry Clarke (Made it to the Elite Eight)
Jordyn Nicole (Made it to the Elite Eight)
It’s not the end of the road for Monologue Madness 2018
Founder Edward Daniels announced that the event will be taking place in Atlanta, with Los Angeles, Chicago and Orlando in its sights for 2019. Monologue Madness will celebrate its 7th anniversary here in its home city Spring 2019 when actors will, once again, get a chance to present their best monologues in front of a live audience.