Speaking of the importance of acting training, Hugh Jackman has said that his experience of drama school was a lesson in “being awake”. He credited his training with giving him the abilities of “being present” and “the importance of listening” – tired stock phrases that are unfailingly trotted out when describing acting, yet are concepts that are the crucial ingredients for a performance that has the power to affect an audience.
Jackman expanded on the importance of these disciplines: “You do eight shows a week and if you’re not awake that thing is going to be stale by the fifth show and then the rest of the year is going to be horrific and the most turgid experience of your life and for the audience. It has to be as if for the first time.”
The difficulty is that acting as if it were the first time takes a consistent amount of repetition, preparation and practice which is why Audition Doctor has proven essential for both professional actors and drama school applicants.
The type and length of training for each actor obviously varies. As Edward Kemp, Artistic Director of RADA, said in The Stage: “Some students are absolutely ready to go part-way through the third year,” says Kemp. “I was more than happy to release Jessica Raine, for example, in my first year here because she was completely ready. On the other hand, some students get an offer and want to go but it isn’t right for them. We can see they need that final term. It’s too soon and can seriously hold a career back later. I’ve seen it both as a teacher and from the industry end too.”
At Audition Doctor, those that tend to frequently land jobs are those who have regularly attended sessions. The sustained preparation at Audition Doctor sessions means that at auditions, they have the confidence that comes with being more technically experienced.
Kemp also said that he wished someone had told him to “Make more mistakes” when he was starting out. Audition Doctor’s popularity lies in the fact that students not only feel encouraged to make mistakes, but to build on these “failings” and to explore why particular decisions didn’t work as well as others.
Billie Whitelaw once said that actors, herself included, “usually [painted] something on…instead of allowing something to grow from a centre…A lot of that is because there isn’t time to do anything else…but the closest thing I’ve come to using whatever hangs in the middle of one’s diaphragm here has been working with Beckett where I hadn’t eliminated myself but had actually exposed my centre, which is still and full of energy and power, but you can’t act that. It all sounds very pretentious but it is very moving and it does connect.”
Students come to Audition Doctor because they know that sessions push them closer to getting to their own centre and that it gives them the time to really dig into the depths of the character, and consequently avoid giving a one-dimensional performance.
Whitelaw said of Beckett: “He would say “too much colour, too much colour” and what he meant by that was “don’t act”.
Students who come to Audition Doctor find that they come closer to giving the unforced and truthful performances that Beckett spoke of.