Auditioning is hard. That’s no secret. It is terrifying putting yourself on display with the risk of failing – and even the best actors are rejected from time to time. Sometimes you are just not right for the job. There are factors you can’t argue with and have to accept.
Auditioning for drama schools is no less daunting. Even though you should solely be judged on your talent, other little factors can get in the way. Sometimes the schools are looking for a certain type and it’s tricky figuring out how to give them what they want. Here, however, are a few things ideas based on my own experiences, and tips I’ve gained over the years from professionals and current students.
- Be well-prepared. This might seem totally obvious, but you would be surprised how many people show up to their auditions not knowing anything about their speeches, the characters or the play they come from. I once had to endure a boy doing Romeo’s famous balcony scene while sitting on a chair talking to a few people on the floor – the guy had just assumed he knew what was going on, didn’t bother reading the play and therefore hadn’t realised he was actually talking to Juliet on a balcony. Quite embarrassing.
- Have a few speeches up your sleeve. Most schools ask for one contemporary speech and two Shakespearean/Jacobean – have at least twice that prepared. You never know what they’ll want to see. Just make sure they are contrasting and no longer than the time limit (usually 2-3 minutes). I was once asked to do a Danish piece (I am Danish) and panicked as I didn’t see that one coming.
- Be confident, not arrogant. Believe in yourself and that you can contribute to the school.
- Don’t let the nerves get to you. Very often you see nervous applicants chatting away just before the audition like their lives depend on it. Don’t be a blabber-mouth just before the big moment – you will make yourself more nervous and forget to breathe. Stay calm and focus on yourself, at least til after your audition. Chatter won’t help and trying to prove to the others just how great an actor you are won’t get you a recall.
- Commit. Let go of your inner critic and go with whatever happens at the audition – if the panel redirects you then don’t question them or go against it. They just want to see more of you and if you can take direction well. This has nothing to do with your interpretation. I was once asked to do a Shakespeare tragedy as a 4-year-old girl in a tutu with a magic wand dancing around. Which probably isn’t how Shakespeare intended it. But have fun and play, they’ll be looking for you to let go and be adaptable.
- Be creative, but not insane. One of my friends who’s studying at the moment told me that a girl brought a suitcase to her audition containing an entire tea-set. She took five minutes to set it all up, sat down, made (real!) tea and drank a cup, then stood up and walked away from her little picnic and started her speech (which was Shakespearean tragedy). She didn’t actually use the tea-set in the piece. And no tea was mentioned in the monologue… which leads me to number 7:
- NO PROPS!
- Don’t worry if you don’t get recalled. There are other schools and they all look for different things. Some people take years to get in – others never do but still have great careers. Don’t beat yourself up. If you believe you can do it then it will happen eventually.
Image: The Teaparty