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.
What was your first job and was it what you expected?
My first job was at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre playing Hero in Much Ado About Nothing and Calpurnia in Julius Caesar. After the initial excitement of getting the part wore off, it was sobering to realise that the small and secure environment of drama school wasn’t an accurate representation of the Industry; and not having a roof was interesting! Working with experienced actors, most of whom had left drama school a while ago, made me realise that I still had a lot to learn.
I also had the expectation that the job would lead me immediately onto more auditions and it took longer than I anticipated for me to feel that I could make a living out of being an actress.
How do you deal with the inevitable tough competition and rejection that characterises the Industry?
No matter which drama school you went to or how many auditions you attend, every actor will experience the disappointment of not having got the part; even harder when there are bills to pay. However, maintaining a sense of perspective is key. It’s important to recognise what is within your control. Researching and analysing the text is something that you can always do and if you have feedback from a casting director- learn from it. When you do suffer from a setback, it’s important not to be self-indulgent, change what is within your control and move on. Also, if possible, have a plan B.
How important do you think your training at Guildhall was and do you think if you hadn’t gone to drama school that you would be as employable?
Drama school has been crucial, as the training continues to be invaluable to me as a working actress. Yet I know that it’s not the only route and some actors have been successful without having gone at all. What drama school gave me was focus and time. A lot of people are impatient and keen for immediate success. Personally, the time to explore and fail without doing it publicly was hugely important. Additionally, drama school equips students with a variety of tools- specific classes on movement, improvisation, voice and classical texts are indispensable and are vital for every actor. The detailed and rigorous technique that drama school instilled in me, made me less self-conscious and more confident as an actress. The training that I received at drama school is indisputably the bedrock of how I approach the creation of a character today.
Introduction To Acting gives a priceless insight into the professional tricks of the trade from a working actress’s perspective. The course will be led by Tilly Blackwood, a working Actress in the Industry for the last 20 years. She teaches weekly audition master classes at the renowned Actors Centre in Central London and has founded Audition Doctor in order to meet overwhelming demand. Participants will be encouraged to give constructive feedback to one another as part of the learning process.
Introduction to Acting is open to anyone who has always had a secret desire to be an actor or for anyone who didn’t feel confident enough to ever give it a try.
The only requirement for this course is to bring your enthusiasm, support for your fellow actors and a speech that you are passionate about and have learnt in advance. This makes the best use of the two hours and will help you realise your true potential.
The course lasts for 2 hours and will take place every Monday from 6pm – 8pm.
The course costs £150.
To book yourself on this course please call 0207 357 8237 or fill out the contact form below.
Audition Doctor was set up by Tilly Blackwood, an experienced working Actress. She is a regular Acting Coach at the renowned Actors Centre in central London, where she continues her work on a one to one basis, as well as with larger groups, where she gives a weekly Audition Masterclass and Theatre Acting Classes.
For more information about Audition Doctor or for help with auditions please contact us on any of the following:
Mobile: 07764 193 806
Audition Doctor provides bespoke acting classes that are tailored to your individual needs; helping build confidence for your next audition in TV, Film or Theatre.
We provide a service that is unparalleled with a proven success rate for getting actors back into the professional workplace and offer a variety of acting classes, from 121’s, groups and workshops.
Audition Doctor was set up by Tilly Blackwood; an experienced working Actress who teaches regularly at The Actors Centre in London, where she continues her work on a one to one basis, as well as further text based work with larger groups.
For 2 weeks only, buy one acting class for £40 and get one free!
For more details or make a booking please call Tilly Blackwood on:
Mobile: 07764 193 806
For more information please see www.auditiondoctor.co.uk
I’m thrilled to be starting a new course at The Actors Centre called Audition Masterclass. It will comprise six three hour sessions, with a mock audition at the end with an invited panel of professional casting agents and directors. Already oversubscribed, I’m hoping that this will be the first of many.