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Inside Out: Where to train before you train

Posted on 08 March 2013 by Camilla Gurtler

train before you train

It is unbelievably hard to get into drama school in the UK. About 4,500 young people apply every year, pay a fortune to be seen for about 90 seconds (which is outrageous, but that’s a different debate!) and will most likely be rejected by all of them. Either they tell you you need life experience (which at the age of 25 starts to feel slightly offensive) or they won’t tell you anything (even more outrageous), and you are left out of pocket and with no clue as to how to improve for next year’s rounds. So how is it done? How do you get better so that RADA won’t toss you out in the first round and LAMDA will agree to see you for longer?

As an experienced drama school applicant and reject I found it necessary to get a little training under my belt before entering the audition room – it won’t guarantee you a place or a recall but it will certainly make you more confident and experienced entering that daunting room and being eyed by the dreaded panel. Here are two places I can recommend:

1. The Actors Centre

I have been a member ever since I moved to London and was advised by an agent to go and train there. I can’t recommend this place enough; it’s got fantastic workshops for reasonable prices and the tutors are fantastic. They all work in the business and are eager for you to do your best and achieve your goals. It’s in Covent Garden, the heart of London’s theatre-land, and they’ve got the Tristan Bates Theatre on site (which produces great shows). There’s even a café. Courses I can recommend for drama school auditions are:
Audition Bootcamp. This is five intensive days where you work on everything you need for auditions. And you get to audition in front of an experienced director who gives you feedback!
Shakespeare workshops. They’ve got a lot of them and they are so helpful when you are looking at that Shakespearean tragedy for your first audition in absolute panic not knowing what the man is saying.
Acting drop-in. They run a drop-in acting class every Monday evening from 6-9pm where you work on different texts, improvisation etc. It is a great way of preparing for a recall and of working with other actors.
Improvisation classes. There’s probably nothing more daunting than being asked to improvise in an audition. So these are a godsend.

2. The Mono Box

The Mono Box runs events and workshops to help actors to find cast-specific monologues for drama school auditions and speeches for showcases. It is located in London and has a fantastic collection of plays all donated by great actors and directors. They are eager to help you find that perfect speech that will make you succeed, and if that’s not enough they’ve got a monologue workshop where you work on a speech with a director and have a Q&A session with established industry professionals. It’s on once a month on a Sunday for a few hours so if you don’t know what to do… well, now you’ve got something.

I hope this has given you a bit of inspiration. There’s never just one way of doing something creative like this, and some people do get into drama school without any previous training. Personally I find going to workshops like these, meeting other actors and working with industry professionals an inspiring experience. Enjoy.

Image: Where to?

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla Gurtler

Camilla is currently training as a director on the Young Directors’ Programme with StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Camilla has worked as a director, actress and writer in Denmark and London, and loves Shakespeare, greek tragedies and children’s theatre. She’s obsessed with coffee, dislikes ranting on stage and hates the colour yellow. Especially mustard-yellow.

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Review: you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica]

Posted on 11 July 2012 by Jake Orr

If there is one thing I have learnt recently, it is how much of the National Theatre is hidden from sight amongst the cocooning layers of concrete. Where Made In China’s Get Stuff Break Free took audiences between two lift shafts overlooking the Southbank, non zero one presents its piece you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica] on the edge of the NT roof overlooking Waterloo and the city behind. Working in similar style to its other pieces, audience members wear headphones with microphones to interact with the performance and performers. After being led out onto the roof we sit around a large circular table facing inwards. Here we learn that every headset is live, and that speaking, coughing or sneezing will be heard in our ears as if the person is sitting next to us. We are encouraged to meet and greet each other, to get used to hearing our voices relayed through headphones. What this creates is a heightened state of performance; we are involved in the performance through our very breathing which, if listening careful, can be heard gently in our ears.

Over the course of the hour, non zero one prepares its audience for the present. It tests our memories, our reflexes, and our ability to focus on a given point and to clear our minds altogether. It attempts to create clarity and for us to be truly present in the moment. What we learn through you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica] is just how difficult it is for us to be present. If, as the company declares, we live our life in three second intervals that are cataloged and stored in our memory, then our life is significantly fractured and disparate. With every memory that we try and recall we are only remembering 60% of that given memory; the other 40% dissolves, or is fabricated from other instances that influence us. Do we celebrate the slow slipping away of memories, or do we mourn them, realising that our lives are quickly disappeaing into a blackness? Of this I am unsure, but as a performance piece it is wonderfully honest, tender and heartening whilst being, for me at least, somewhat tragic and bleak.

As the company prepares us for seeing the city around us, there is a distinct feeling of being wooed, of a warming in our hearts that is gentle and subtle. Non zero one is acting as our guide into the unknown, and yet it all feels familiar too. I’m not talking about the work itself, which feels distinct and unique, but there’s a sense of warming awakening, a soothing sense the company invokes that, right here and right now, this is the present and that no matter how hard we try, what just happened will always be slipping away as a memory. Equally, the view from the roof of the National Theatre is all too familiar, and as we are encouraged to look out as the platform we are seated around begins to rotate, the city of London with all its quirks and buildings becomes alive. There is a richness, an understanding that what we see now will not be the same tomorrow or next week. We’re witnessing a small micro-world that, in an instant, shifts and changes. What is familiar now will become distant tomorrow.

It’s hard to really discuss you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica] without wanting to urge you to attend. It’s defining personal theatre that brings together a group of 24 audience members for a heartening and awakening theatrical experience that will never quite be the same on any other night. Within its uniqueness and its dreamlike quality, you’ll feel enveloped into non zero one’s imaginative world. You’ll want to call an old friend, or tell someone you love them, just to pass on the goodness you’ve felt. Or perhaps, like me, you’ll understand that with our lives comes a real sadness and small moments of tragedy that can’t be avoided. you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica] shows you have to see and to experience what is in front of you, whilst dreaming of the future. Blissfully tender and intimate theatre.

you’ll see [me sailing in antarctica] is playing on the roof of the National Theatre until 20 July. For more information and tickets, see the National Theatre website.

Jake Orr

Jake Orr

Jake is the Artistic Director and Founder of A Younger Theatre. He is a freelance writer and blogger, a theatre marketer and a digital producer. He is also Co-Curator of Dialogue.

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