Teaching Soliloquy in Drama: Practical Tips and Techniques
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. What is a soliloquy?
  2. How to identify a soliloquy
  3. Tips for teaching soliloquy
  4. How to practice performing soliloquies
  5. Teaching the purpose of soliloquy
  6. Techniques for delivering soliloquies
  7. Use of soliloquy in modern drama
  8. Soliloquy exercises for students
  9. Sample soliloquies for study
  10. How to evaluate student soliloquies

When the lights dim on the theater stage, and one actor remains standing in the limelight, it's often time for a dramatic soliloquy. Soliloquies, often seen in Shakespeare's works, are powerful tools in drama. Understanding and teaching how to craft and deliver a soliloquy can open up new ways for students to express their thoughts and feelings, as well as understand those of others. This blog will help you teach soliloquy in drama with practical tips and techniques.

What is a soliloquy?

A soliloquy is a kind of monologue in drama where a character speaks their innermost thoughts and feelings aloud. Unlike a monologue, which could be directed to other characters or the audience, a soliloquy is a conversation with oneself. It's like a window into the character's soul, giving the audience direct access to their private thoughts and emotions. Here's what you need to know:

  • It's a solo act: Soliloquies are performed by one actor on stage. The character is often alone, or at least they believe they are, which allows them to express their feelings freely.
  • It's meant for the audience: Although the character is talking to themselves, the soliloquy is really meant for the audience. It's a way to let the audience in on the character's secrets, fears, hopes, and plans.
  • It's a tool for character development: Soliloquies reveal more about a character than what's visible on the surface. They show what's going on inside the character's mind, revealing their motivations, conflicts, and personality traits.

Teaching soliloquy in drama can be a fun and engaging way to help students understand and empathize with characters. It also gives students a unique tool to express their own thoughts and feelings in a creative and dramatic way. So, ready to dive into the world of soliloquies? Let's go!

How to identify a soliloquy

Recognizing a soliloquy in a drama isn't as tricky as it might sound. But it's not as simple as spotting a single actor on stage either. Here are some key aspects to watch out for when you're trying to identify whether a specific part of a drama is a soliloquy:

  • Character Alone on Stage: Typically, the character delivers a soliloquy when they are alone on stage, or when they believe themselves to be alone. This solitude allows their thoughts to flow freely.
  • Inner Thoughts and Emotions: Soliloquies are about expressing deep, internal thoughts and emotions. If the character is sharing their personal reflections, fears, or dreams, you're likely listening to a soliloquy.
  • Direct Address to the Audience: Although the character might be talking to themselves, there's an implicit understanding that the audience is the real recipient of their thoughts. Look for signals that the character is indirectly communicating with the audience.

It's important to note that soliloquies can take many forms and do not always adhere strictly to these rules. For instance, in modern drama, a character might deliver a soliloquy even in the presence of other characters. The essence of a soliloquy is the intimate revelation of a character's inner life, regardless of the exact circumstances.

Now that you know how to identify a soliloquy, it should be easier to teach soliloquy in drama to your students, helping them understand the nuances and power of this dramatic device.

Tips for teaching soliloquy

Teaching soliloquy in drama can be a fun and enlightening experience for both you and your students. Here are a few practical tips to keep in mind:

  • Start with Familiar Examples: Begin your lesson with examples of soliloquies from plays your students are familiar with. Shakespeare's works, such as "Hamlet" or "Macbeth", are full of famous soliloquies. This will give your students a better understanding of the concept.
  • Encourage Personal Connection: Ask your students to write their own soliloquies about a personal experience or emotion. This activity will make the concept of soliloquy more relatable and easier to understand.
  • Explore Different Interpretations: A single soliloquy can be interpreted in many ways. Encourage your students to explore different interpretations and understand the flexibility of a soliloquy.
  • Discuss the Purpose: Make sure your students understand the purpose of a soliloquy — to reveal a character's inner thoughts and feelings. This understanding will help them appreciate why soliloquies are crucial in drama.

Remember, the goal is not just to teach soliloquy in drama, but to help your students appreciate the beauty and power of this literary device. So make sure to keep your teaching approach engaging and interactive!

How to practice performing soliloquies

Performing a soliloquy convincingly requires a certain level of skill and understanding. Here are some steps you can take to master the art:

  1. Understand the Character: To bring the soliloquy to life, you need to understand the character's thoughts and feelings. Spend time exploring the character's motivations and backstory.
  2. Know the Words: A soliloquy often uses complex language, especially if it's from a Shakespearean play. Make sure you know the meaning of every word and phrase. This will help you deliver the soliloquy more confidently.
  3. Practice the Rhythm: A soliloquy often has a rhythmic pattern, especially in classical drama. Practice the rhythm and make sure your delivery aligns with it.
  4. Use Body Language: A soliloquy is not just about words—it's also about the character's physicality. Use your body language to express the character's emotions and thoughts.
  5. Perform in front of Others: Practice your soliloquy in front of friends or family members. This will help you get comfortable with the idea of performing in front of an audience.

Remember, performing a soliloquy is about portraying the character's inner world. So, immerse yourself in the character and let their thoughts and feelings guide your performance.

Teaching the purpose of soliloquy

The soliloquy is a powerful tool in drama, and understanding its purpose is crucial to teaching it effectively. So, what does a soliloquy do?

  1. Reveals Inner Thoughts: A soliloquy provides a window into the character's mind. It allows the audience to see what the character is thinking and feeling, which is often different from what they show to the other characters.
  2. Advances the Plot: Soliloquies can reveal important plot points. For example, a character might reveal their plans, fears, or hopes, which can dramatically change the course of the story.
  3. Builds Suspense: By revealing a character's plans or fears, a soliloquy can create suspense. The audience knows something the other characters don't, which makes them eagerly anticipate what will happen next.
  4. Creates Empathy: When you hear a character's inner thoughts and feelings, you can't help but empathize with them. This makes the character more relatable and the story more engaging.

When you teach soliloquy in drama, make sure your students understand these purposes. Encourage them to think about how they can use a soliloquy to reveal their character's inner world, advance the plot, build suspense, and create empathy. This understanding will make their performances more impactful and their stories more engaging.

Techniques for delivering soliloquies

Delivering a soliloquy can be a daunting task. But don't sweat it. Here are some handy tips to help you and your students ace their soliloquy performances:

  1. Understand the Character: The first step is to fully understand the character. What are their motivations, fears, desires? Remember, a soliloquy is a peek into a character's inner thoughts. If you don't understand the character, neither will your audience.
  2. Decipher the Text: It's not enough to just read the lines; you need to understand them. Break down the text. Look for metaphors, similes, and other literary devices. They often hold the key to the character's emotions and motivations.
  3. Use Vocal Variety: A soliloquy isn't a monotonous monologue. It's a rollercoaster of emotions. Vary your pitch, volume, and speed to reflect the character's changing emotions.
  4. Employ Body Language: A soliloquy isn't just about the words; it's also about how those words are delivered. Use gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to express the character's feelings. But remember—less is more. Overdoing it can distract from the words.
  5. Engage with the Audience: In a soliloquy, the audience is your confidant. Don't just recite lines at them. Make eye contact. Draw them into the character's world. Make them feel like they're part of the story.

Delivering a soliloquy is a skill that requires practice. But with these techniques in your toolkit, you and your students will be well on your way to mastering this essential part of drama.

Use of soliloquy in modern drama

When you think about soliloquies, the plays of Shakespeare might spring to mind. But the art of the soliloquy didn't stop with the Bard. It's alive and well in modern drama, too.

Modern drama writers often use soliloquies to give the audience a direct line into a character's deepest thoughts and feelings. Unlike in Shakespeare's time, these moments aren't always signaled by a spotlight or a character alone on stage. They can pop up in the middle of a conversation or during a bustling scene. It's a bit like the character pressing pause on the world around them to let us in on their inner world.

A great example of this is in the play "Fences" by August Wilson. The main character, Troy, uses soliloquies to express his frustrations and dreams. His soliloquies help us understand why he makes certain decisions, even when those decisions aren't popular with the other characters or even with us, the audience.

So, when you teach soliloquy in drama, don't limit yourself to the classics. Show your students that soliloquies are a powerful tool for any playwright, from any era.

Soliloquy exercises for students

Teaching soliloquy in drama isn't just about reading and analysis. It's also about practice. Here are some exercises to get your students feeling more comfortable with soliloquies.

1. Write Your Own Soliloquy: Ask your students to write a short soliloquy for a character in a play they're studying. This will help them understand the character's motivations and emotions on a deeper level. Plus, it's a fun creative exercise!

2. Perform a Soliloquy: Encourage your students to pick a soliloquy from a play and perform it. This will help them understand how a soliloquy can reveal a character's inner thoughts and feelings in a way that dialogue can't.

3. Soliloquy Swap: This is a fun one. Have your students swap soliloquies with a partner and perform each other's soliloquies. This will give them a chance to see how someone else interprets the same character and situation.

Remember, the goal of these exercises isn't to create perfect performances. It's to give your students a hands-on way to explore the power of soliloquies in drama.

Sample soliloquies for study

When we begin to teach soliloquy in drama, it's beneficial to have a few noteworthy examples up our sleeves. These samples will provide students with a concrete understanding of what a soliloquy is and how it operates within the context of a play. Let's take a look at a few classic examples:

1. "To be, or not to be" from Hamlet by William Shakespeare: This is perhaps the most famous soliloquy in all of drama. In it, Hamlet contemplates life, death, and the meaning of existence. It's a great example of how a soliloquy can explore a character's deepest thoughts and fears.

2. "I have been studying how I may compare this prison where I live unto the world" from Richard II by William Shakespeare: Richard II uses this soliloquy to compare his kingdom to a prison, showcasing his emotional turmoil. This soliloquy is a fantastic demonstration of using metaphor and imagery.

3. "I could a tale unfold" from Hamlet by William Shakespeare: This soliloquy by the ghost of Hamlet's father gives students a glimpse into the afterlife, a topic rarely addressed directly in drama. It's a perfect example of how a soliloquy can be used to provide critical plot information.

These examples offer a range of themes, tones, and styles, making them excellent starting points when you start to teach soliloquy in drama. They also showcase the power of soliloquies to reveal a character's deepest thoughts and to move the plot forward.

How to evaluate student soliloquies

So, your students have written their soliloquies and performed them on stage. Now, it's time to evaluate their work. But how exactly do you grade a soliloquy? Let's break it down into four main areas:

1. Understanding of the Character: The soliloquy should reflect a deep understanding of the character. Is the tone of the soliloquy consistent with the character's personality? Does it reveal something new about the character's thoughts, emotions, or motivations?

2. Use of Language: A good soliloquy isn't just about what is being said—it's also about how it's being said. Look for thoughtful use of language. Are there metaphors, similes, or other literary devices that enhance the soliloquy? Is the language appropriate for the character and the time period of the play?

3. Progression of the Plot: A soliloquy should move the plot forward or provide important background information. Does the soliloquy add something new to the story? Does it build tension or anticipation?

4. Performance: A soliloquy is more than just words on a page—it's a performance. Pay attention to the student's delivery. Is there appropriate emotion and energy? Does the performance engage the audience?

Evaluating soliloquies isn't always easy. But with these four areas in mind, you'll be better equipped to provide meaningful feedback and help your students improve. Remember, the goal isn't to create perfect soliloquies—it's to help students better understand the role of soliloquy in drama and to express their creativity and understanding of the character.

If you're passionate about teaching soliloquy and want to expand your knowledge on scriptwriting, check out Jessy Moussallem's workshop, 'Scriptwriting.' This workshop will provide you with valuable tips and techniques to enhance your drama teaching skills and help your students create compelling soliloquies.