Testimonials from former students

Testimonials from former students

The many testimonials from Blackwood’s former students attest to her skill. Emma Corrin, known for portraying Princess Diana in Netflix’s The Crown, visited The Audition Doctor at the beginning of her career: “As an untrained actor new to a hugely intimidating industry, Tilly managed to truly inspire me and instil in me the courage to recognise and begin to cultivate my talent.”

The ethos of The Audition Doctor is that it’s all about you. “When I meet people for the first time they’re surprised that my obsession – whether you’re a professional actor or you’re trying to get into drama school – is always you. No one does you like you. Often I find that a lot of people are quite scared of being absolutely authentic and uncensored.”

Author: Tim Bano

Preparation for Drama School Auditions

Whenever advice is proffered by teachers at drama school before auditions, they always encourage the following: Be open to suggestion, be willing to be vulnerable and be receptive to your fellow actors.

It’s difficult to follow such advice when experiencing the often fraught atmosphere of an audition. Frequently, lines that you were so sure of weeks before are inexplicably wiped from the brain as you engage in a group exercise.

Drama school auditions cannot be predicted and it’s essential to know that you will be entering them in a prepared state. No matter how connected you feel to your speeches and how impressive you believe your performance to be, it will all go out the window if you don’t have a measured and practiced state of mind.

This is why Audition Doctor is an essential prerequisite to any audition. Aside from cultivating the character’s psychological state, Audition Doctor prepares you for how you choose to present your own personality. It is this that the panel, more than anything, want to see in a candidate. (“We want to see you“) After all, it is you that they are interested in; it is your character that they will be training.

Being open to vulnerability and having the ability to listen are characteristics that have to be acquired and practiced. This is what Audition Doctor sessions allow you to cultivate.

Furthermore, much as Audition Doctor is about building up particular qualities that are useful in auditions, lessons are also about removing any extraneous “acting” that acts as a hindrance to truthfully portraying any character.

When Judi Dench was interviewed in The Sunday Times, the article mentioned that “at the Central School of Speech & Drama, her group were given the task of preparing a mime by the old actor Walter Hudd. They were to take a few weeks. Dench forgot about it and had to improvise on the day. She came up with a very minimalist performance. “I did it on the hoof, I hadn’t thought about it. Everybody else did very complicated pieces. Walter just said after mine, ‘That’s how you do it.’ And that was it, it was really accidental. He made me think.”

Audition Doctor sessions are about stripping away the unnecessary complications and blending improvisation with informed decisions as a result of exploring the text. It’s this that drama schools are looking for – the ability to use the text as a springboard for a variety of different possibilities and to find the truth in each decision and situation. If taken on as a student, Audition Doctor lessons are a rare opportunity that give you the time and space to allow you to do just that.


Drama School Applications – Open Now

The forward march of autumn signals the advent of that sentence that many applicants have nervously been waiting for on drama school websites – Applications for September 2014 are now open. Download application form here. While it can often feel like you are one of many just bursting through the starting gates, filling out whether you are male or female is the least stressful part of the entire process. While the advice “get your application form in early” is not without foundation (RADA even have different audition fees for applications received after a certain date in December), sending off the form knowing that you have the right audition speeches is a far better move strategically.
You can be called to audition within two weeks of you sending it; two weeks is not enough time to have sat in French’s or a Waterstones researching various monologues as well as have explored the countless ways of playing the character. There is also the simple fact that the longer you have to work on your speeches, the better you know your lines. This means you are far less likely to dry in front of the panel. Forgetting your lines when you’re redirected is common; performing a speech with opposite intentions when the panel watch you in the process of discovery. Knowing your lines inside out means that you can concentrate on exploring the acting side of things, as opposed to making your audition a memory test.
Today on Ideastap, the Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre, Paul Roseby, spoke about what he looks for in auditions. He emphasised the importance of finding “a speech that suits you. I like ambition – people coming in with  ambitious ideas about their future, themselves and what they’re doing. But we  want to see great characters. Look for something or someone that interests you  because, if it interests you, then it’s probably close to you.” He also averred “There is no guarantee in auditions. Like we say, we want to ban the bland. It’s about watching somebody who is  watchable. That doesn’t mean they have to, technically-speaking, have the best  audition. It’s about the personality as much as the audition technique.”
Having said this, some drama school applicants do seem to believe that their personalities are the most important aspect of the audition. They think the panel have to “like” them. While there is an element of truth in this, they’re not there auditioning you to be friends with them, they want to pick the people with the best potential. As Audition Doctor repeatedly attests, it is always the audition speeches that can afford you the best opportunity to show them this.
Many people come to Audition Doctor believing that they can succeed in the industry without training. While this has worked for some, Tilly is the first person to always stress how training is the best possible route to secure credibility and longevity in the profession.
When Arthur Darvill was asked how useful he found his training, his responded: ” Training is a funny thing. I was very lucky and went to RADA. That was the Holy Grail for me, before I went. But it meant that I spent my first year trying to “get it right” rather than get what I could from it. The truth is that you never get it right, you just keep learning. Drama school was a great opportunity to do that and – like any place of learning – you get out what you put in.” Audition Doctor works on the same basis which means the number of sessions you will have will be totally up to you. However, you absolutely get back in spades what you put in, which makes Audition Doctor your best bet for getting into drama school, as well as being a taster of how you want to approach your training should you get in.

Drama School – Backstage Access

When interviewed on the BBC, Juliet Stevenson was asked whether she would have become an actress had she not gone to drama school. She confirmed that she would have done through a more indirect route. Without resorting to over sentimentalising romanticism, she acknowledged that acting was, for her, a vocation – “I do feel alive on stage, sometimes I don’t, but very often I feel like this is what I’m meant to do whether I like it or not.”

Drama school can feel like the only option to get into the Industry but it isn’t necessarily for everyone. Stevenson admitted that she nearly left drama school on several occasions as she found it extremely emotionally taxing: “I was very young, you’re using who you are to play other people when you don’t know who you are yet at that age.” However, the process of delving into the uncomfortable recesses of your psyche is going to be draining whether or not you do it within the peripheries of an accredited institution.

The tightly structured days, the personalities of your peers, the quality of your teachers all have a huge bearing on the nature of your drama school experience. Drama school is a gamble and many have succeeded without it. The pre-audition talk at one drama school entailed a sober reminder from the Head of Acting that “You’ll have RADA graduates that never get a job, you’ll have untrained people nabbing all the roles that you’ve trained 3 years for. There is no fairness in this profession” as we all stared wide-eyed at him and blinked – rewiring our naïve brains to accept the fact that he was telling us with realistic- not pessimistic- reasoning, that a place at drama school by no means guaranteed an immunity to failure.

However, attending drama school gives you the possibilities to know how to deal with the unavoidable setbacks that come with being an actor. Lyn Gardner recently held a lesson for acting students at drama school on theatre criticism: “There’s real value in trying to hone their critical faculties so that they can appraise their own work honestly, as well as that of their peers. If you’re training to work in drama, stringent evaluation of your own and other people’s work is crucial. You can only fail better –to quote Samuel Beckett – if you admit failure in the first place. But the bottom line is that these youngsters going out into the profession will, if they get work, be reviewed. Sometimes those reviews will make them dance with joy, and sometimes they’ll want to hide under the bedclothes. I hope that, when that happens, they’ll…remember that judging your own work honestly is as important as anything the critics might say.”

It’s being given opportunities like this which makes drama schools invaluable to the aspiring actor. The likelihood of Lyn just popping into your theatre company’s rehearsal and “[reading] a complete set of newspaper reviews from Theatre Record, marvelling at different responses, and how revealing they can be of the critics writing, rather than of the shows themselves” is highly unlikely. Nor is it probable that she’ll organise an outing for you all and “take [you] to the kind of shows many of [you] have never experienced before…such as Dreamthinkspeak’s In the Beginning was the End, (a peripatetic piece played out in the basement beneath London’s Somerset House).” Maybe she would if you wrote to her and asked her nicely, but drama schools have easy access to respected professionals such as Lyn on tap. Why wouldn’t you want to go?

Audition Doctor has proven to be indispensable when it comes to drama school auditions. Competition is now so much more fierce and being taught by someone who is a professional actress herself and who runs a weekly auditioning workshop at the Actor’s Centre marks you out from other candidates. Audition Doctor’s students are people in all different stages of the profession – from drama school applicants, current drama school students, professional actors to businessmen who want to improve their public speaking skills. What Audition Doctor gives all of them is confidence and peerless advice that means the prospect of failure is significantly less likely.

Auditions – A Brutal Necessity

The Guardian recently devoted an article solely to the cutthroat climate that is associated with auditioning. It opened with the true yet now timeworn cliché of a young and hopeful actress “queuing in the rain outside the London Palladium for five hours, waiting to take her chance at the open auditions for A Chorus Line…Eventually, she was ushered on stage with a group of 50 other hopefuls, and asked to do a double pirouette on the left, and then another on the right. Her future rested on their perfect execution.” Contributions by Bob Avion (choreographer of the original New York production of A Chorus Line) such as: “when you are panning for gold among hundreds, you have to eliminate quickly”, are additionally indicative of how punishing the process can be for actors.

Unless you are part of that exclusive coterie of actors who are so well-established that they are in the privileged position of no longer needing to audition, chances are you will have to if you want to get into drama school or get an acting job. Drama school auditions are effectively job interviews and the pirouette of the musical theatre world is what an audition speech is to the acting world. It’s the moment to prove your agility as well as your ability and attending an Audition Doctor lesson means that you are much less likely to squander the unique moment of being the sole object of the panel’s attention.

As Siobhan Redmond says: “”The audition should be a microcosm of what you’ll do in the rehearsal room,” says Redmond. “By the end, you should at the very least be labouring under the delusion that you speak the same language.” Three years is a relatively short amount of time to equip an artist with the skills she/he will use throughout an entire career, so drama schools are looking for students who are malleable and who are atune to direction.

Audition Doctor sessions allow you to experience what an audition is like without the nerve-wracking atmosphere. If you are applying for drama schools, Audition Doctor can be helpful as it also means that your audition isn’t the first time you have performed to an actual person, as opposed to the bookshelf in your bedroom.

Siobhan Redmond says that the best time in every actor’s life is “the period between being offered the job and actually having to start it. Nothing beats it.” Coming to Audition Doctor gives you a significantly better chance of being in that position.

Auditioning Speeches for Drama School

Choosing audition speeches for drama school can be a minefield, with different drama schools stipulating varying requirements. They do, however, all maintain that the choice of speeches is the most important aspect of the process. They are the vehicles through which you must flaunt talent – both physical and vocal, potential and understanding. They should be speeches that you feel speak to you; as RADA states: “Choose a speech about which you are excited as a performer and can imagine playing one day.”

However, the wrong selection can also be fatal; the stringent process is difficult enough without performing speeches that you struggle connecting with. As Anne Henderson (Casting Director of the National Theatre of Scotland) advises on the Drama Centre website: “Remember that what you are trying to do is impress us with your talent, so do not use the audition as a place to experiment. Choose pieces with which you are comfortable and which will show you at your best.”

Although drama schools may have different demands (e.g. Some encourage applicants to look for audition speeches in film and TV scripts while others strongly advise the contrary), the general advice offered to candidates by all of them is largely similar. All drama schools dissuade applicants from picking a piece that involves an accent that is different from your own; they constantly remind students that Shakespeare does not have to be done in RP. Henderson goes onto note : “For your contemporary piece, if you have a regional accent, then choose a piece in that accent – you will feel more comfortable in your own accent rather than worrying about another accent.” Drama schools also strongly counsel applicants to stick to characters of their own age and gender: “It is a very difficult task that you have taken on, trying to persuade a panel in a bare room that you have transformed yourself into someone else; don’t make your life more difficult.”

Audition Doctor is unique in that Tilly will work together with her students to create the perfect cocktail of audition speeches that highlight the individual’s talents while simultaneously showcasing their flexibility and versatility. Audition Doctor ensures that the selection of audition speeches not only contrast with each other (as RADA recommends: dramatic/comic, serious/light, active/reflective), but also makes sure that there are varying tones within the speeches themselves . Going to Audition Doctor mercifully guarantees you won’t deliver a monotonous speech on one note, but a colourful and truthful performance that encapsulates all the contradictory and varying aspects of human existence.