Even the most respected institutions are beset by flaws. The criticism levelled at drama schools is varied and contradictory. It’s been argued that drama schools are out of touch, blindly forging on with teaching Elizabethan playwrights for which there is no commercial market. Conversely, there have been complaints that today’s young actors don’t possess the know-how to speak verse properly.
Last week’s Sam Wanamaker festival at the Globe – a theatre which is commercially successful solely by staging Shakespeare – disproved both arguments. Susan Elkin from The Stage wrote: “[It] is a very valuable event. The focus is entirely on Shakespeare. A pair of students from each of 21 drama schools – and I know how carefully selected and nurtured those individuals are so it’s an honour to take part – perform a duologue from Shakespeare on the Globe’s stage. The final, and public, performance took place yesterday. And as the Globe’s Director of Education Patrick Spottiswoode told me recently “It’s a celebration not a competition. There is no adjudication or winners”. So it’s a fine way of giving 16th and 17th century drama some close attention – and helping to refute all those critics.”
The idea that drama school is a waste of time because of its focus on Shakespearean texts is a dangerous one. The most celebrated TV and film actors have been known to turn down screen roles in favour of the stage, as evidenced by the recent announcement that a large contingent of the Sherlock cast will be focusing on Shakespeare in the near future. (Martin Freeman will play Richard III, Benedict Cumberbatch will take on the role of Hamlet and Mark Gatiss was recently in Coriolanus at the Donmar.)
It isn’t just verse speaking that drama school affords you either. As Olivier winner Aneurin Barnard mentioned in Ideastap: “Drama school gives you an amazing amount of theatre knowledge. If you want to be a stage actor I don’t think you can without training; some do, but it’s a very low percentage. I knew from 14 that I wanted to go – mainly to get an agent, because I had already been acting for a few years, though I was very rough.”
Drama school auditions are incredibly demanding and sessions with Audition Doctor take some of the pressure off your shoulders. Although all the work must, ultimately, be done by you, Audition Doctor provides an encouraging environment to explore possibilities and experiment with different intentions. Essentially, this is what a drama school audition is.
Drama schools may be flawed, however, it seems like everyone still wants to go. The number of applications shows no sign of decreasing which is why – despite being at the tail-end stage of drama school auditions – Audition Doctor is still oversubscribed.