Last week, Susan Elkin wrote in The Stage: “I happened to be visiting a prestigious London drama school recently while it was auditioning potential students. The applicants were huddled, anxious and nervous in a stark corridor waiting to go in one by one. Each was wearing a large placard bearing a number as if they were anonymous runners in a race. What price human dignity?”
While this week, when Vicky McClure was asked if auditioning had got any better the longer she’d been in the profession, she replied: “No! I think it’s getting even scarier for me… I lost out on a job just before Christmas and I was devastated. It really knocked me because I did all the prep I could possibly do… and yet you don’t get it, and it’s not because you can’t act, it’s because the chemistry doesn’t work or you’re slightly too short. It does knock you for a bit.”
Auditions, for both professional and aspiring actors, are unavoidable prerequisites for any job. However, much of the time, the outcome in an audition rarely resembles the perhaps stunning rendition you gave in the privacy of your bedroom. As Simon Russell Beale said last week: “I always used to joke that the best performances are done in the bath.”
When auditioning for drama schools, the speeches are key. Although the content is paramount, there are other things that have to be considered. Most drama schools will have guidelines as to the length of your speech. Many panels will simply cut you off if you go over the time, with some even starting a stopwatch as soon as you stand in front of them. Yet it is surprising how often candidates go over the allotted time. When questioned as to why they didn’t adhere to the audition advice (with “advice” read “strict instructions”), an applicant will proclaim that the speech had to end then because of the nature of the monologue’s emotional arc. However, due to the large volume of applicants, the panel simply don’t have the time for protracted monologues. This means that the speeches that you choose are incredibly important as they have to highlight your strengths, as well as showcase your vulnerability and versatility, in a considerably limited amount of time.
It takes students often multiple trips to French’s or Waterstones to find the right speech. However, it is worth it. Audition Doctor lessons are a bonus because they are opportunities to discuss the speech that is right for you specifically. Although a speech may be interesting, it may not suit you at this stage of your development.
Furthermore, Audition Doctor sessions are vital both before and during the lengthy process of auditioning. As candidates get more recalls and reach the final stages of auditions, it becomes even more critical to ensure that you make bold and original choices that also have emotional depth. Audition Doctor sessions offer students the gift of knowing that their best performances will not be in the bath, but in front of the audition panel.