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?