If only The Observer’s account of Mark Rylance’s method of auditioning was the norm for all drama school auditions. While they are rarely the “shouty, humiliating exercises, usually of no more than two minutes duration” that the journalist describes, at the initial stages at least, they don’t usually “last up to 30 minutes each”. Furthermore, although most audition panels would argue that, like Rylance, they “are designed to be encouraging rather than demoralising”, everyone will experience the latter at some point throughout the process.
Although Rylance is auditioning professional actors for his upcoming production of Much Ado About Nothing, his way of appraisal and observation of each actor is very similar to that of drama school auditions. There is the acting obviously, but also voice work and movement sessions that are also part and parcel of all drama school auditions.
“I try to move them one way or another depending on how much they’re coming out to me, or into themselves,” he says. “Often, their nerves and desire to get the job makes them overly expressive – not bad, but they express more than they need to – so I’ll give them some kind of an obstacle to stop them being so sure-footed. Then I’ll see how they take that note, and I’ll listen to their voice, try to tell whether or not it’s locked in a particular place, and I’ll look at their movement.”
Nerves will inevitably play a huge part in how you perform. If you have only ever done your speeches alone in your living room, auditions in which you have to stand in a vast echoey studio in front of fifteen other candidates as well as the panel, will come as a huge shock. Although all drama schools do send out “What To Expect On Your Audition Day” emails, they don’t specify certain aspects for whatever reason. With extensive experience in drama school auditions, Audition Doctor will be able to tell you what to expect at various stages of the process at specific schools. Some schools require you to perform in front of fellow auditionees, some will be ask that one of your speeches is done to camera. If you are remotely self-conscious or uneasy, there is less likelihood of you inhabiting your character and delivering the performance you want. As Andrew Scott says “an audience can smell authenticity”and you can guarantee that an audition panel will be comprised of human Bloodhounds.
What Audition Doctor ensures is that your nerves are used to your advantage. Each speech is analysed with a fine tooth-comb and Tilly ensures that every intention behind every beat is absolutely understood. As Mark Rylance mentioned: “With Shakespeare, the audience has so many fears and anxieties, so many preconceptions; you have to draw them into the present, to give them an experience rather than a lecture. It should be like a great tennis match: who’s going to win?”
The Shakespeare speech is often the one that scares candidates and what Audition Doctor does so brilliantly is making it “present”, alive, genuine, and almost unbelievably, fun. Rylance cites directors such as Ian Rickson and Tim Caroll who “make their productions to last, and not so brittle that they’ll break. They encourage actors to surprise each other, to keep it fresh, to bring the sense of discovery and fun from the rehearsal room into the performance. You have to move into chaos.”
This is what Audition Doctor encourages students to do during lessons – to be flexible and bold in their choices and to embrace the uncertainty of the process- because often the most radical and exciting performances come out of it.