Are you applying to Central? Because they usually give you a
list of Shakespeare monologues to choose from, and you can of course
use the one you pick when you audition for other schools. Sometimes you
are asked for 2 Shakespeares - or asked to do a different one for a
recall. In which case it can be good to have one funny, one dramatic.
Some rules of thumb - some of which also apply to your modern piece:
- don't pick an older character - you will be more believable as someone closer to your own age.
- avoid the obvious - they'll be sick of "To be or not to be", "What light from yonder window breaks" or anything said by Macbeth or Juliet
- anything really well known invites comparison against the greatest actors ever
- and the panel may know the words better than you do, which will make you look stupid
- don't do angry - everyone angry looks the same, try and find something where the emotion is more complicated
- if you can do funny, go for it - not everyone can and you'll be memorable...
- ...but get someone (not your Mum) to confirm it is funny because flat on your face is a bad place
- if you are only doing one Shakespeare, they probably want to hear you do verse - a lot of comic speeches are in prose
Of course, if you are a genius you can break any of these "rules". If you're not sure, you are not a genius.
Same if you are sure.
Try looking at the Histories - there's a wealth of interesting characters and they are chosen less often. e.g. Young Clifford has a great speech in 5.3 of Henry VI, Part 2. Or Joan in 3.3 of th same play.
Or from better known plays, look at the friends or comic foils to the lead roles. e.g. Horatio in Hamlet, Banquo in Macbeth, Emilia in Othello,