Today, Lyn Gardner asked the question: “Would you do your job – the one you’ve been trained to do – for free?” She was referring to the unfair yet widespread practice of professional actors working for free on the London Fringe and other events such as Edinburgh. Having fought off three thousand other candidates to get into drama school, undergone rigorous vocational training, many come out the other end performing for free. One could argue that this is a “work experience” of sorts and the chance to continue to develop the skills that you were taught at drama school. It’s an opportunity to perform roles that you might not have been cast as at drama school and there is always the possibility that influential casting directors will attend, be floored by your performance and catapult you into the world of award-winning feature films.
However, the stiffness of the competition to work for absolutely nothing is both mad and maddening. A current profit-share production of Measure for Measure at the Union Theatre auditioned over 1,000 actors for 10 roles despite the lack of a salary if cast. Gardner cited the reason for this was “because whereas once a small number of drama schools produced a limited number of actors each year, now there are vast numbers of university courses producing graduates who are ready to go straight into the profession. Many, furthermore, are weighed down by student debt.”
There is a sense that the thousands of students coming out of drama-based university courses every year are industry fodder – there aren’t enough parts for everyone who has spent 3 concentrated years receiving focused conservatoire training at drama schools, let alone people who have “studied” acting at university. However, neither is a drama school training a guarantee of skilled artistry. Mark Rylance mentioned that when auditioning actors, “sometimes, people will have had bad training, and I’ll think: I’m going to have to unravel a lot here.”
Whether you are trying to get into drama school or just out of it, you have to be at the top of your game to get anywhere and Audition Doctor ensures that you are match-fit for any audition. Rylance compares auditioning actors to “rather like looking at football players. You have to build the team, the company.” Working for free may be far from ideal but it’s better to be active and build up a range of roles. Working with Audition Doctor means that you don’t feel like the craft that you have spent 3 years honing is put on the back burner and that you are continually stretching your acting chops so you are ready for any audition opportunity that comes your way.