Not only is Vancouver actor Daniel Bristol one of only 17 finalists competing in the professional category at this year’s World Monologue Games, he is also the sole Canadian.
Organized by Australia’s The Monologue Project, the World Monologue Games attracted over 3,000 actors from 85 countries to the virtual competition, with professional and emerging artists submitting monologues online. From a series of regional finals that began in late August, the field has been whittled down with competitors in six global categories vying for cash prizes and worldwide bragging rights.
“I thought it would be a fantastic way to keep myself fresh and inspired during the COVID lockdown,” says Bristol as to why he decided to enter the contest. “Honestly, I’m really at the point in my career where any chance to practice and grow and be seen is a really, really good thing.”
Originally from Nanaimo, Bristol graduated in 2019 from Studio 58. During his three years at the professional theatre training program at Langara College, Bristol appeared in several productions, including The Skin of Our Teeth, Mortified, and Incognito Mode.
Bristol has worked professionally in film and on the stage, including the Warner Brothers fantasy action film Sucker Punch. Before the pandemic lockdown, he helped raise over $100,000 for charities in Prince George in a stage production of The Birds and The Bees.
Besides a time limit and restriction that the monologue could have nothing to do with the Coronavirus, Bristol chose a scene from David-Matthew Barnes’ Better Places to Go, a play in which ten people reveal secrets during a storm at a rundown truck stop diner in Nebraska.
“He’s written a very special play with unique and complex characters,” says Bristol, who became friends with the playwright after reaching out for permission to perform the piece.
Choosing the monologue on an initial gut reaction, Bristol found the scene visceral and surprising each time he has performed it. He also used it for his acting finals at Studio 58 and then again during his audition for The Birds and the Bees.
“He’s on the run, hurt, homeless, starving, and dealing with some very severe mental health issues,” says Bristol. “The only thing keeping him going is love. There’s so much to work with there, and there’s a great need to do the character justice.”
It has paid off for the young actor. With some winners chosen by professional judges and others by popular vote, Bristol feels honoured to have received the judge’s nod.
“Knowing that the industry professional judges were watching with a critical eye and chose me to go through to the global finals is a huge compliment and feels like a bigger win as opposed to all my friends just voting me in,” “says Bristol. “I now know for a fact I deserve my position in the competition. It’s definitely a confidence boost, and I plan to ride this wave for as long as I can.”
The crest of that wave will come on October 25 when Bristol performs a new version of his monologue from Better Places to Go for the World Monologue Games’ finals.
“This will actually be my third time performing it for this competition,” he says. “Every time I do it, it does get better, and this time I have a more professional lighting setup.”
The winners in each category will be chosen in a combination of judge and audience votes during the live broadcast on October 25. The total audience votes held the same weight as a single judge.
“So no matter how many friends you have voting for you, it still only adds up to one judge’s decision,” explains Bristol. “This should mean that the actual professional judges should make up the majority of the votes. On the flip side, if it’s a super close competition then the audience could be the deciding factor.”
“David Bloom, who taught my solo show class at Studio 58, is telling me that if I don’t win, I’m getting kicked out of the country. So the stakes are very high for me, and I’m kind of worried he’ll find a way to make that happen.”
But while a win at the World Monologue Games will look good on his resume, Bristol will not be resting on any laurels should he win, as he continues to keep busy as an actor, despite the pandemic.
“I have currently been offered the role of Doctor Reid in Leo Award-Winning writer and director Joyce Kline’s dramatic short film Sisters,” he says.
To begin shooting later this month in Victoria, Bristol credits the competition in part for helping him to land the role. “I felt so lucky being able to tape for the character and I know my work in the Monologue Games must have had something to do with it,” he says.
For the stage, Bristol has just finished working with ITSAZOO Productions and Aphotic Theatre on their upcoming production of The Café.
To be mounted in 2021 and performed in a Vancouver coffee shop, the play consists of seven scenes in which audiences are invited to watch a play to its conclusion or wander the coffee shop and experience others in “a kind of narrative choose-your-own-adventure.”
“It’s extremely exciting,” says Bristol, who will perform in a scene written by Vancouver playwright Sebastien Archibald. “And with the audience being so close in the actual real setting, it can feel extremely real, personal, and vulnerable. We’ve had an absolute blast workshopping it so far. I look forward to revisiting it again down the road with everyone and for the public to eventually experience it.”
In the meantime, you can watch and vote for Daniel’s final performance at the World Monologue Games, which streams live on Youtube on Sunday, October 25, at 3:00 am in Vancouver (9:00 pm in Australia). Visit monologues.com.au for more information.