Bel Knight speaks to Tilly Blackwood- founder of Audition Doctor

Students come to you with scripts from all mediums- television, theatre, film- does your approach to each of these differ?

It doesn’t differ at all- all of them require an intricate analysis of the text. The luxury of having an entire script is rare in television and film. Nowadays, not only are you ­quite often given the script at the very last minute but usually only the scenes in which your character appears. This means that you have to understand your character very quickly; big decisions have to be made in a very short amount of time and you have to be open and malleable because there are so many different ways to play the character. This is where your drama school training becomes invaluable because you have had the benefit of three years of constant experimentation and trial and error.

With television you might not have the luxury of time, so I think it’s very important to explore every avenue; which is what I encourage my students to do at Audition Doctor. Often students pick a route which is completely justifiable, but when I steer them down a less obvious path they quickly realise that, that choice is also equally valid.  What I aim to do is to show them that there are far less constraints in acting and so many more interpretations than they think, and the more ambiguous ones are often far more interesting as sometimes they suddenly have these seismic shifts in the way they perceive the text.

 Was it daunting when you first got out of drama school after having been in such a structured and intense environment?

 I was lucky enough to be offered a professional acting job before my training at drama school officially ended, so I didn’t have that feeling of disorientation and displacement that a lot of graduates can experience. Although I still had the structure of daily employment, it was very new working with people who were complete strangers and not my fellow students for the past three years. It was exhilarating to get a foot in the door, but at the same time that feeling of achievement was slightly marred by the nerves that are not unusual for any inexperienced actor on their first acting job. During the rehearsal process, in my head I was constantly questioning whether I could pull it off.

 How and when did you get your first agent?

 I got my agent in my last year at Guildhall and I definitely wouldn’t have had the opportunity for so many casting directors and agents to see me if I wasn’t at a drama school. As with any industry, the acting world is closely- knit, which means word of mouth spreads very quickly; such wide exposure to all sorts of people from the acting world is something that only drama schools can provide. I played Nora in ‘A Doll’s House’ and it was flattering that a couple of agencies wanted to take me on. Getting professional approval outside the confines of drama school was thrilling. I remember thinking that the acting world wasn’t as closed and exclusive as I previously thought and excited that there might possibly be a place for me in it.