TA short while ago, The Stage ran a piece entitled “What can an acting coach help me with and how do I find a good one?” It featured two experienced acting coaches – Dee Cannon and Martin Harris. The fact that the paper is devoting an entire page to sharing “about what they and their peers can do to enhance your chances” is significant, as this publication identifies itself as “The weekly for the entertainment industry.” Their target readership will be performers who most likely will have attended drama school and are already in the profession. It is indicative of how acting coaches are increasingly used not only to get into drama school, but throughout an actor’s career.
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.
I have been a professional actress for over twenty years and during this time I have had some fantastic jobs and met some wonderful people along the way. After I left drama school I have always continued to train by doing classes or one to one with a coach. I have enjoyed these sessions over the years and definitely felt that there was an improvement, however, in between I have felt very low about my ability- especially in the area of television and have often felt that I am missing something.
Then by lucky chance I came across Tilly Blackwood. Tilly is without any doubt the best drama coach I have ever worked with. Tilly has an incredible ability to help you find the truth in what you are doing; her methods are subtle yet very effective. In one of our sessions I found myself so deep in character, that it took me a while to recover. I was able to trust what Tilly gave me and go with it- pure joy. I also have felt incredibly motivated since Tilly became my Coach. Although I have enjoyed Shakespeare in the past, now I love it and find myself seeking it out wherever I can. Suddenly my ears have been opened and I am able to truly enjoy and appreciate it.
I have also noticed a 100% improvement in performances in my auditions and film work. I did some filming the other day and for the first time I arrived feeling confident in my ability. I was able to go for it and not feel worried and the result was clear for all to see.
I cannot recommend Tilly highly enough- she is a very special and talented person who is able to share her gift with her students in a very positive way. I am just so happy that I have found her now.
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 to make a booking please contact Tilly Blackwood on:
Mobile: 07764 193 806