Much has been written on the fact that too much time at drama schools is devoted to Shakespeare and not enough given to acting for screen, with heads of acting at top drama schools lamenting the fact that they are training pupils for a fast disappearing theatre industry. However, three of Britain’s arguably biggest television actors are performing in various Shakespeare plays to packed houses in the West End – Jude Law in Henry V, David Tennant in Richard II, and Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus. The Telegraph mentioned in an article entitled “Why the stars come out for Shakespeare”: To have three such charismatic leading men starring in three relatively underperformed Shakespeare plays at the same moment is a rare treat.” It appears that Shakespeare is still as culturally relevant as ever – enthralling both actors and audiences.
Shakespeare even plays a surprisingly heavy role in the creation of unlikely characters, such as Tom Hiddleston’s character Loki in Thor. In an interview for The Telegraph, it was noted that “Together, Branagh and Hiddleston created a character who was, in many ways, the film’s centre point. ‘We made Loki out of Shakespearean characters,’ Hiddleston says. ‘We talked about King Lear with its two brothers, Macbeth with his ambition, the way Iago spins every situation for self-interest”.
This is why when potential students query the validity of drama school training, it is worthy to remind them that there is no substitute for three years of being surrounded by professionals who have performed Shakespeare themselves. It was Hiddlestone’s years at RADA which gave him the skills to lead him to win an Olivier for Cymbeline. As the interviewer notes of his early career: “While his film career faltered, his reputation in theatre started to gain momentum….and “It wasn’t until Michael Grandage cast him in Othello at the Donmar in 2007 that Hiddleston’s ascent really began. Watching the dress rehearsal was Kenneth Branagh, who was sufficiently impressed to cast Hiddleston as Christian in a Radio 3 production of Cyrano de Bergerac”.
If debating over whether to devote a large proportion of three years to Shakespeare, it’s worth remembering that the Bard still continues to open doors for many actors.
Like Audition Doctor, drama school gives you the time to experiment with language, physicality and voice. It also gives you the space to explore all the ranges of human emotion that future work will require you to express. Attending Audition Doctor or drama school is an acknowledgement that you want to become a better actor, an actor that contributes something to the general debate.As Tom Hiddleston eloquently puts it: “At its absolute best, a play like [Coriolanus] can unite its audience. They can go into the theatre as strangers and leave as a group, having understood and been through something important together. If I am somehow contributing to that then surely my work is of some consequence.”
The valuable nature of Audition Doctor is the way which Tilly pushes you to discover the different colours of emotions that will occur during one speech which means performing a speech on the same note will never happen.
As Hiddleston remarks: “We have the capacity to experience every aspect of life, don’t we?’ he asks, looking intently down at the imaginary keyboard on the table in front of him.”There’s love, generosity, hope, kindness, laughter and all the good stuff. And then there’s grief, hatred, jealousy and pain. The way I see it, life is about trying to get to a place where you feel happy with the chords that you are playing. I’m lucky because I can experiment with all the different notes, via my work. And when I hit the right notes, I like to think that I’m conveying some sort of truth.”This is what Tilly gives each students at Audition Doctor – the ability to explore the myraid of notes and deliver the truth – which is arguably all drama school audition panels are looking for.