Both Judi Dench and Helen McCrory have recently professed the importance of the continuation of training outside the confines of drama school.

In her column in The Stage, Susan Elkin wrote: “Judi Dench told Patsy Rodenburg, who repeated it to me en passant, that when she was a young actor you could sit in digs at breakfast with other older cast members who would casually pass on advice such as: “You know, if you paused for slightly longer after that line you’d get a bigger laugh”. Now, Dench had trained at Central but here she was humbly honing her craft…”

McCrory, in an interview at the National Theatre, in turn spoke of how her early experience at the National was an extension of her drama school education: “That was my training for the next four years”. Appearing in The Seagull alongside Judi Dench was integral in her progression as an actress: “That’s what I’ve learned from watching Judi Dench all those years ago – she asked questions.”

Elkin went onto suggest that apprenticeships in theatre, currently offered mostly to those working backstage, should extend to actors: “Many a graduating actor would benefit from, say, a couple of years with a company. During that period the actor would see the production of several plays, gaining hands-on, on-the-spot experience of professional theatre with plenty of exposure to more experienced people.”

In the same week, Emilia Fox described going to drama school as an “insurance policy”. However, it’s worthy to note that Elkin is advocating “a formal mentoring structure, a development, perhaps, of what used to happen in the good old days of rep theatre” for actors who have received professional training. Even those who have had access to guidance from drama schools find it hard to avoid “the usual agent-at-any-price-regardless-of-quality scramble”. It appears evident that even those who have attended the best drama schools are not inoculated against the difficulties of the profession.

While apprenticeships such as the one Elkin advocates have yet to turn mainstream, drama school applicants, recent graduates and professional actors have been attending Audition Doctor as a way of broadening their abilities and seeking advice. Audition Doctor has proved especially popular with freshly graduated drama school students who book Audition Doctor sessions to maintain momentum and originality between their first professional auditions.

Helen McCrory’s comment on the importance of asking questions is what Audition Doctor is all about; not just questioning the text and artistic choices, but also having Tilly available on-hand to give experienced and unbiased advice.