‘Five Years of Monologue Madness: Reflections from Former Competitors’ By Rachael Murray

Monologue Madness—the DC acting competition modeled after college basketball’s March Madness—is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year. Local actor Edward Daniels started the event in 2011. He recalls his inspiration for the very first Monologue Madness: “I’d been working steadily as an actor in DC, figuring out all sorts of ways to make ends meet. I’m also a tennis player and absolutely love sports and tournament play. Unlike the Manhattan Monologue Slam in NYC and the LA One Minute Monologue Competition, DC had no sort of actor showcase. I had the random idea to throw actors into the tournament bracket format of the NCAA’s March Madness playoff.” Since its inception, Daniels says, “It has allowed over 150 actors to strut their best work on stage in front of a stellar panel of casting directors, who are able to offer them work.”

Karina Hilleard (Monologue Madness ‘13 Winner) and Kashayna Johnson (Monologue Madness ‘14 Runner-up) are two of these actors. These former Monologue Madness competitors have gone on to work with several DC-area theatre companies. Karina and Kashayna shared some of their insights on the competition and offered advice to this year’s fifth anniversary competitors:

Karina Hilleard. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Karina Hilleard. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Monologue Madness Staff: What was the biggest difference between performing at Monologue Madness and a standard audition experience?

Karina: The preparation for each of the rounds is intimidating—not knowing if you will progress—and the pace gets quicker as the rounds move on. The audience is great to work off of. It really was a unique experience.

Kashayna: The biggest difference is the unwanted pressure of it being a competition and the fact that you’ll know right away (in front of a crowd of people) whether you or your competitor “got the part” –“getting the part” in this case being moving on to the next round.

What was your favorite moment or memory from participating in Monologue Madness?

Karina: That has to be meeting so many talented actors from the DC area who I have seen go on to do great things since then!

Kashayna: My favorite moment of Monologue Madness was definitely the last round! I have always enjoyed improv and having to think fast on your feet. Having fun is such a RELIEF, especially in a competitive setting. You never know what the judges will throw at you and that is the scary (yet exciting) part!

What’s the best piece of advice you can give to this year’s competitors?

Karina: It’s important to choose monologues that tell a clear story with a beginning, middle and end in 60 seconds. Make sure it’s one you connect with, and  that it suits you stylistically also.

Kashayna: The best advice: HAVE FUN! You’ve done all the rehearsing you could do up to this point, so trust that. Trust your work. Trust the process. All that’s left to do is to get up on that stage and deliver! That one minute is yours and no one else’s. Make it count!

Kashayna Johnson. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.
Kashayna Johnson. Photo by C. Stanley Photography.

Monologue Madness 2015 will be held on March 29, 2015 at the Miracle Theatre – 535 8th Street SE, in Washington, DC. It’s a “rare chance to see actors during the audition process, something that an audience never sees,” says Daniels. Tickets are on sale now online. Don’t miss your chance to experience the Madness!