I’ve recently been getting a lot of questions about my experience auditioning for drama school.
First of all, I think your decision to audition for drama school is a great show of someone’s determination and passion to begin the path of following your dream but (and this is a big but) getting in to drama school is not the only way you can become a successful actor. I have many friends who didn’t go to drama school and are currently on the West End, filming in the US and touring the UK.
List of accredited UK drama schools:
Drama school also comes with a great financial factor. It is not cheap. At all the above schools they do offer scholarships however and student loans to assist with financial aid. Once you are accepted in to a school they should help extensively with you, depending on your situation. At ArtsEd, a student can apply for funding by the Student Loan Company and Student Finance England. Dance and Drama Awards (DaDAs) are available, funded by the Education Funding Agency. These scholarships offer reduced tuition fees for income-assessed students for support with living and learning costs.
- RESEARCH: Do your homework and look in to all the schools that you think would best suit your personality. Like anyone, you will most likely want to automatically audition for the schools that your favourite actor/actress attended but take it from me, that is not always necessarily the best fit for you. Once again money needs to be taken in to account. An audition alone at schools can range from £25 – £65, on top of that travel needs to be taken in to account, as well as possible accommodation.
- PERFORMANCE PIECES: Most schools will expect you to learn a classical Shakespearean monologue and a contemporary piece. It is very easy to simply pick up a ‘Monologue For Actors’ book, select the first one and start to learn it but I cannot emphasise enough the importance of really taking the time to get to know what you are like as an actor and what your strengths are. If you know you’re great at comedy, do a comedy piece. If you know you would feel at home performing an intensely dark monologue, do that. You need to perform something that a.) makes you feel connected to it and b.) makes you feel something for the character. I always know if I truly feel in touch with a piece by how quickly and how much I understand the text. If you cannot comprehend the piece, how do you expect the panel to? You want to engage the audience, not shock or confuse them. When deciding on a classical piece – do not fear! Shakespeare can be a little daunting at first but you’ll come to understand that it really is no different to a modern day piece. If you really have no idea where to start, first look up a character in Shakespeare’s classics that is nearest to your casting age range, next read their monologues and translate them. Shakespeare was a ridiculously talented man whose intelligence was far beyond his time period and his writing still applies to us today. After choosing your monologues READ THE ENTIRE PLAY, the panel may well ask you questions and not knowing the answers just come across as lazy. Choose material that you like and not just something that you know. Yes Juliet’s ‘O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?’ is a beautiful monologue, but if you have simply chosen it because you could not be bothered or even scared to explore Shakespeare’s other greats, it will show – you need to not be afraid to delve in and explore, I guarantee you will find several monologues from his plays that you feel extremely passionate about.
- REHEARSE AND FEEDBACK: Whilst I auditioned for drama school, I had a great mentor, Ian Mann, that I met through taking my LAMDA Acting Grade Examinations. Working with someone I completely trusted to give me honest comments about my work and their opinion on how I could improve really aided to structure my mind in to being open and respectful to the playwright’s words. If you have someone, i.e a drama teacher, close friend, family member – anyone you know who will be sincere with you and not afraid to tell you the truth, then showcase your performances to them and request their honest feedback from it – especially asking if they understood each word, your pitch and volume, pace and if it made them feel something.
- BE YOU: Auditioning for drama school is not a test. No school expects you to behave a certain way in order to attend their school, they simply just want to see you the person in front of them for those few imperative minutes you have. They want to get to know you and what your passions and hobbies are. Of course you love to act, they already know that (otherwise you would not be standing in front of them) but they also want to see a three dimensional person who lives and breathes on other meaningful aspects that make you as a person drive. Take my audition for ArtsEd as an example. After performing my pieces, the great actor and mentor at Arts, Gareth Farr, asked me what I liked to do in my spare time. The obvious thing I think most young actors believe they should speak about is their acting experience, but I spoke about my passion for reading English classic literature, skiing and my part-time charity work. In the conversational part of the audition, the panel are not testing you, they simply want to get to know you, alike to how you should want to get to know them. You too are interviewing them and seeing if you could work with them. It is not just one sided; it’s an opportunity for you to meet new people and have fun!!
Lastly, if you do want some advice or to learn more about my experiences auditioning, getting my opinion on pieces (Shakespeare or modern) please do not hesitate to get in touch!