My foray into the industry has recently seen me encounter the most dreaded of all events: the audition. Now, there are two common types of auditions – the ‘individual monologues’ one and the ‘workshop’ one. Having gone straight to university from school, I had previously avoided the stress and powerlessness that comes with the drama school audition process. As a result I had mixed emotions of excitement and trepidation at the prospect.
So I went to my first ever (and only, for this year) drama school audition. I had stress dreams beforehand, a particularly disturbing one being about a house where everyone was killing each other (serves me right for preparing a Philip Ridley monologue), but woke up feeling good. I got to the audition venue about half an hour early, well worth doing as it allows you to settle in to your surroundings and focus. I then spent the next half an hour talking to current students and auditionees about their lives.
It is bizarre when you step into the audition room. The two members of my panel were very nice but undeniably detached, saying “Hi Liam, nice to meet you, what are you going to do for us today? Great, if you can stand behind the line, there are chairs and tables behind you if you need them. Start when you’re ready” – and that is it. It is all a bit impersonal, but the amount of auditionees means that their militant efficiency is understandable. Surprisingly though, I really enjoyed it. All that build-up and I still left the room smiling. A brief interview with some standard questions followed, and was equally painless. One audition down, one to go…
I was then (un)lucky enough to have the auditions for my theatre group’s Edinburgh rep season the day after. This was taken in the form of a workshop audition and was an incredibly different experience. I love workshop auditions because you have a sufficient amount of time to really showcase your abilities. Preliminary one-on-one auditions are fine, but it always feels like you are trying to stick a label on your forehead and brand yourself. In this workshop audition I knew that one of the directors was familiar with how I worked, so it really gave me some scope to, as he would say, “throw down”.
I learned a great lesson from this. I just got a letter saying that they were unable to offer me a place at the drama school I had applied to. I was, of course, somewhat disappointed; but as an actor, every rejection tells you so much more than an acceptance. I also got cast in a lead part for Edinburgh.
The difference between the two was that with the drama school audition I just wanted to get through it, to play it safe and not mess up. In the workshop audition I was perfectly willing to mess up and make a fool of myself, because taking risks is so important in this industry. I will probably reapply for the same single drama school course next year; but there are other ways to make tracks too. As it is, I am really excited for next year – I think it will be good to spend a year seeing what progress I can make in the industry.
Image: Today at Conway Hall