In an article in The Stage entitled “The camera never lies – how well do drama school prepare their students for TV?” Matthew Hemley was adamant that “drama schools could do more to prepare actors for the reality of a working life, particularly in front of a camera. More and more, performers come out of drama school and land television work, but most of those I speak to talk of how unprepared they are for this…. Very often when I speak to actors, particularly young ones who are in a new television series, they talk about ‘learning on the job’, and about how terrified they were on their first day on a TV set, because of the fact they have so many technical points to remember (alongside learning their lines and actually acting). Of course there is an element to learning on the job for anyone – no training in any profession can prepare you for what the reality of a job is like.  But it seems to me that for actors working in television it really is a shock to the system”.

Even Geoffery Colman, Head of Acting at the Central School of Speech and Drama, admitted earlier this year that “[Drama schools] are training actors in the best canonical tradition – to play Hamlet or Hedda Gabler – for an industry that isn’t there”.

However, drama schools are responding to the demands of the profession; Arts Ed decided to restructure its acting degree in 2010 “with a stronger emphasis on television and film because it was felt that students should be better equipped for these genres.” The subject of acting for screen has been much written about this year. While drama schools such as RADA, LAMDA and Mountview already offer acting for camera lessons, many drama schools are being encouraged to review their courses to include film and TV modules.

Many aspiring actors erroneously believe that with their concentration on stage acting, drama schools are not worth applying to. However, as Jane Harrison, principal of Arts Ed, emphasised  “We have kept the core skills – of voice, movement, text and theatre work”. Furthermore, Philip Hedley, former artistic director of Theatre Royal Stratford East stressed the opposite view that drama schools should avoid stressing any particular medium at all. Instead, they should focus on  “the ‘commonality’ of acting skills, which applies across the board whether you are doing cabaret or serious tragedy.” Although TV and theatre are different mediums, the fundamental principles of acting apply to both.

Audition Doctor coaches professional actors for both screen and theatre auditions. Drama schools such as the Oxford School of Drama and Bristol Old Vic incorporate taped auditions at later stages. While they say these are used as necessary aide-mémoires due to the high level of applicants, candidates can’t help but feel that these are also screen tests. Audition Doctor sessions prepare you for all eventualities. Ultimately, the panel aren’t looking for either screen actors or theatre actors. They are looking for artists. Tilly ensures that you have the best shot at showing them that you have the ability to interpret a character and the flexibility (as well as the intelligence) to explore the infinite number of alternatives.