This week, The Stage wrote about how the concerted effort drama schools have made to encourage their actors to self-produce and self-create has paid dividends.
“Traditionally drama schools focused on developing stage skills and getting paid jobs in theatres at the end of it. And for that, the wisdom went, you needed an agent because he or she would work miracles for you in return for a 15% commission on all the work you did. Cynics have described drama school as a one-way ticket to a showcase – and all those brilliant agents hungry to snap up you and your talents.”
However, there has been a sea change with regards to the way drama schools educate their creatives. The difficult reality is that even with a final showcase at a top drama school, “common sense and arithmetic suggest that many of them will not get agents or paid jobs in companies.”
Many actors would strongly identify with Toni Collette’s recent comment: “I think acting arrests me, it keeps me awake. The way people live their lives, the whole psychological labyrinth, is what turns me on, so the job itself feeds me”. Not working and waiting for your agent (if you have one) to ring can be hugely dispiriting. This is why drama schools are pushing students to form their own theatre companies so they can make work for themselves. Mischief Theatre Company is one such company, born out of LAMDA graduates, that recently won an Olivier for The Play that Goes Wrong.
Audition Doctor is another example of being proactive and increasing your chances for professional work. Actors, whether in or out of work, have found regular sessions at Audition Doctor to be an invaluable driving force in pushing their careers in the direction they desire. The continual character exploration and textual analysis mean that whenever an audition arises, Audition Doctor students never feel they are “out of practice” and always have new approaches and ideas to experiment with.
Toni Collette said: “The great luxury of being any kind of artist is that you explore and challenge yourself. You can paint different pictures. You don’t have to draw a cloud every day.” What Audition Doctor fosters is the hunger for the new, fleshing out aspects of character that you have yet to inhabit.
The success of Audition Doctor students, however, lies in Tilly’s ability to draw out aspects of your individuality in the speech. It reflects Michael Sheen’s description of acting as “being like a sound desk, fading sliders up and down on aspects of your personality until you have someone.” The advantage of coming to Audition Doctor is the total focus on you and what you are creating. Many actors have found the one-on-one Audition Doctor sessions to be essential, as they find that they are consequently able to give more back in the collaborative work that they do with their theatre companies or in rehearsals for professional jobs.
Ultimately, those who attend Audition Doctor are there to improve their craft and to create art, which Stanley Tucci defined as “taking whatever is in front of you and making it into something else. To me that is what art is.”