Speaking of the rehearsal process and the nature of being part of a company, Simon Russell Beale commented: “I personally would be unable to develop a part by myself at home…I need the stimulation of other people.”
One of the reasons for Audition Doctor’s popularity is the need for professional actors and drama school applicants to have a professional sounding board when creating a character. Especially as the drama school audition process is protracted one, rehearsing monologues countless times at home is unsurprisingly not conducive to preserving the vitality and originality that perhaps you had at the beginning.
In an interview on The National Theatre’s website, Nick Hytner said: “Good actors can’t learn their lines unless they know why they’re saying them and you can take an infinite amount of time finding out why you have to say the lines that are written for you. The best acting gives the impression of being spontaneous. In order to be spontaneous every night, you have to feel like the words you say are the only response to the situation you find yourself in…Rehearsals are the process of discovering those reasons.”
Audition Doctor sessions are the closest thing drama school applicants will have to rehearsals and the final recalls that students achieve are testament to the uninhibited freedom of expression that Tilly instils each of her students with. This quality is also why Audition Doctor is increasingly regarded as a necessity for professional actors preparing for jobs.
Judi Dench spoke out this week against the financial constraints placed on actors without significant private funding to pay for conservatoire training. She mentioned: “Anyone who’s in the theatre gets letters countless times a week asking for help to get through drama school. You can do so much, but you can’t do an endless thing. It is very expensive.”
The Guardian commented: “She accepts that talented aspiring actors can make it without going to drama school. “But it’s a hard and rocky road,” she added.”
The collapse of the repertory system – which Dench describes as “where you went to learn and make your mistakes and watch people who knew how to do it” – has meant that drama schools have become increasingly important for actors learning their craft.
Despite the increase in fees, the competition is no less fierce. The National Theatre website states: “Acting requires a wide range of skills, vocal, physical, imaginative, expressive, intellectual, intuitive, and work can demand different dialects, languages, accents, vocal control or body language, improvisation, observation and emulation, mime and often dancing or stage combat. A stage actor will often be required to research around a character or a period of history. In an ever changing world it is a continually evolving profession”. Students understand that the industry is a demanding one and that the skills taught at drama school are essential to survival and longevity as an artist.
Speaking of her imminent return to the London stage, Emma Thompson said that she was suffering from nerves and nausea but that she was adhering to the advice of the late choreographer Agnes de Mille: “You have to keep flinging yourself, leaping into the dark.” Whether you are preparing for a professional role or a drama school audition, Audition Doctor prepares you for that leap and makes it far less terrifying.
Applying to drama school is undoubtedly an exacting journey that can span over the course of several months. Every applicant will be constantly reminded of the punishingly unfavourable odds of successfully securing a place. I wanted to seek professional advice from someone who was experienced in coaching actors for auditions. I looked through dozens of acting coaches on the internet and Audition Doctor was the only website that distinctly stressed how Tilly Blackwood ensured that every student that she took on benefited from intensive classes that were specifically tailored to each individual. Already feeling like a very small fish in a sea of 4,000 applicants, I thought it would be a wise idea to get in touch. Her warm and approachable manner combined with her enthusiasm and thoughtful advice allowed me to start the process with structure and confidence.
As Tilly stressed, investing time to pick speeches that show off your strengths as well as your potential is key. Depending on how many drama schools you apply for and how successful you are in getting recalls, the odds are that you’ll be doing the same two or three speeches twenty times in auditions, not to mention using lines from them during audition workshops. Knowledge of the play as a whole is vital for when you are hopefully redirected. It puts you in a position to be able to make intelligent decisions and justify them. The ability to analyse and articulate thoughts on character is rooted in a deep understanding and familiarity with the text.
Going into Samuel French or Waterstones and being faced with seemingly unending bookshelves with centuries worth of plays is, without question, intimidating. There are some reassuring guidelines that help narrow the search such as “Modern” being rather arbitrarily defined as being post 1956. Certain drama schools such as the Central School of Speech and Drama have a list of audition speeches that you must choose from. RADA offer helpful criteria such as advising candidates to pick speeches that feature characters that are close in age to them and not picking modern speeches that require an accent that isn’t your own. As some people found out, some drama schools are averse to certain audition speeches. With Shakespeare, this is clearly unavoidable, however, Tennesse Williams, Steven Berkoff and Chekhov were at times deemed to be “overdone.”
I bought a selection of plays. (As long as you are careful not to bend the spine and smear the pages, Waterstones allow you to return “unwanted items” and obtain a full refund within 21 days. I would advise only doing this a maximum of two times as you will be strictly reprimanded for “using the bookshop as if it’s a university library, which it isn’t” and banned from purchasing not only books but also stationary for a month.) I auditioned them with Tilly and it was immediately clear which speeches were not suitable and which were real contenders. We did this for about 3 weeks until we narrowed it down and when the final 2 were chosen, I felt a bit like I had climbed Everest as the general consensus is that when you’ve chosen your speeches, you’re half-way there. Little did I know it was only Base Camp.
Tilly manages to strike the rare balance of being incredibly patient yet uncompromisingly demanding. This, combined with her generosity of spirit and good humour is an absolute necessity during the often strenuous process of applying to drama schools. She creates an informal and relaxed workspace which allows you to feel completely unselfconscious and free to experiment while simultaneously compelling you to justify why you have made certain decisions. Her rigorous attitude towards her teaching means that you never feel that you have taken the easy option as she draws your attention to the myriad of alternatives.
Her extensive experience in theatre means that she expertly appraises your individual strengths and plays to them yet also alerts you to the inevitable bad habits that every untrained actor unknowingly assimilates. Her unceasing pursuit in trying to extract what she knows you are capable of sometimes culminates in, what she calls, “a break-through moment”. This is when all the advice she has given you, after weeks or perhaps even months, finally percolates and you do your speech in a way that surprises even yourself. You leave with the heady exhilaration of the high-five she’s just given you (these are administered sparingly and when you get one, you quite literally feel like top dog) and the progress that you’ve made. There lies her true brilliance- in getting you to believe that it was all you, when actually, there is absolutely no way you could have got there without her.
Audition Doctor caters for all your audition coaching needs.
Audition Doctor was set up by Tilly Blackwood to help people with their coaching auditions, from actors to business people. The audition coaching that Tilly provides covers the following:
Public Speaking coaching
Business Presentation coaching
We regularly hold workshops and one to one’s for coaching in London.
If you are interested in finding out more about our coaching sessions, please Contact Tilly Blackwood on any of the following:
Mobile: 07764 193 806
I am setting up a regular audition group to meet at my home. Each surgery will consist of whatever suits the group best on that particular day. Whether you wish to discuss pieces, perform your latest audition speech or chat about your worries regarding anything to do with auditions.
The environment I wish to create is one where people will feel comfortable and secure with fellow actors who understand, sympathise and can constructively provide input to their fellow group members.
The groups will be small, for around five people and last approximately three hours. The cost will be £50 a session and include wine.
I am hoping to set up the first group in a few weeks, please email me if you have any questions or would like to book a place at: Email: email@example.com
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Here at Audition Doctor I will help you with your auditions for TV, Film and Theatre.
Each appointment is tailored to the client’s individual needs, so if you have any questions or would like to get in touch please Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07764 193 806.