Finding Your Centre at Audition Doctor

Finding Your Centre at Audition Doctor

acting coaching londonSpeaking of the importance of acting training, Hugh Jackman has said that his experience of drama school was a lesson in “being awake”. He credited his training with giving him the abilities of  “being present” and “the importance of listening” – tired stock phrases that are unfailingly trotted out when describing acting, yet are concepts that are the crucial ingredients for a performance that has the power to affect an audience.

Jackman expanded on the importance of these disciplines: “You do eight shows a week and if you’re not awake that thing is going to be stale by the fifth show and then the rest of the year is going to be horrific and the most turgid experience of your life and for the audience. It has to be as if for the first time.”

The difficulty is that acting as if it were the first time takes a consistent amount of repetition, preparation and practice which is why Audition Doctor has proven essential for both professional actors and drama school applicants.

The type and length of training for each actor obviously varies. As Edward Kemp, Artistic Director of RADA, said in The Stage: “Some students are absolutely ready to go part-way through the third year,” says Kemp. “I was more than happy to release Jessica Raine, for example, in my first year here because she was completely ready. On the other hand, some students get an offer and want to go but it isn’t right for them. We can see they need that final term. It’s too soon and can seriously hold a career back later. I’ve seen it both as a teacher and from the industry end too.”

At Audition Doctor, those that tend to frequently land jobs are those who have regularly attended sessions. The sustained preparation at Audition Doctor sessions means that at auditions, they have the confidence that comes with being more technically experienced.

Kemp also said that he wished someone had told him to “Make more mistakes” when he was starting out. Audition Doctor’s popularity lies in the fact that students not only feel encouraged to make mistakes, but to build on these “failings” and to explore why particular decisions didn’t work as well as others.

Billie Whitelaw once said that actors, herself included, “usually [painted] something on…instead of allowing something to grow from a centre…A lot of that is because there isn’t time to do anything else…but the closest thing I’ve come to using whatever hangs in the middle of one’s diaphragm here has been working with Beckett where I hadn’t eliminated myself but had actually exposed my centre, which is still and full of energy and power, but you can’t act that. It all sounds very pretentious but it is very moving and it does connect.”

Students come to Audition Doctor because they know that sessions push them closer to getting to their own centre and that it gives them the time to really dig into the depths of the character, and consequently avoid giving a one-dimensional performance.

Whitelaw said of Beckett: “He would say “too much colour, too much colour” and what he meant by that was “don’t act”.

Students who come to Audition Doctor find that they come closer to giving the unforced and truthful performances that Beckett spoke of.


The Unswerving Drive for the Truth at Audition Doctor

The Unswerving Drive for the Truth at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 17.46.02In the second part of his interview with BAFTA, David Morrissey spoke of the process of preparing for a role and the diverse exigencies that different roles had on actors. He spoke of time being a crucial factor in determining how he prepared. He mentioned that if he was given the luxury of time, he’d unleash his “inner geek” and would do in-depth research.

“I have to find the idiosyncrasies as a character. Sometimes there’s physical work, sometimes there’s accent work as well. You have to do all of that before you walk onto the set or stage because you want to be forgetting about all of that when you’re doing the job itself.”

Actors and drama school applicants who come to Audition Doctor usually attend bi-weekly sessions if they have the advantage of time prior to an audition. Regular sessions allow you to incrementally and organically build authentic characters. Idiosyncrasies are not merely tacked on to seemingly seek attention from the panel, but genuine singularities of the character are unearthed that can be textually supported. This is due to the forensic research that is undertaken at Audition Doctor.

Sessions focus not only on the psychological exploration of the character but also weave historical context into your performance.

As Morrissey advised: “You have to put yourself in their head. If you go further back into Tudor times, you have [to be aware of] strange things like life expectancy have a weight on you that you have to carry. The comfort of life that we have, you have to make sure that your characters don’t have that surety. Also the expectation of life in the sense that if you say the wrong thing to the wrong person then it’s your head on the block literally. So that fear that you’re working in, you have to make sure that is inside the [process of your] decision making.”

It is this commitment to creativity and unswerving drive to drill deeper into the core of  human psyche that has made Audition Doctor indispensable to actors. It is also these particular qualities that differentiate the practitioner from the artist.

Lisa Dwan – who recently performed in Beckett’s Not, I – wrote in the Guardian about her recently departed friend and mentor, Billie Whitelaw:

“Billie lifted the lid on all of [Beckett’s] well-worn notes, especially his instruction Don’t Act: “No colour”. She was adamant not to let me emulate her performance or veer towards a surface “Beckett-style” reproduction, but wanted instead for the work to connect deep within the performer. She explained that Beckett dealt with such truths that he had no room for an actor’s craft. He did want emotion, only he wanted all of it – the real stuff, the guts – not some polished fool’s gold…She taught me that truth has a sound, a timbre.”

Audition Doctor sessions are sometimes difficult and demanding – but every single student leaves knowing that no pathway, however difficult, has been avoided in the pursuit of the truth, of which there may be many. The difference is that Tilly encourages the unusual and the ambitious – “the real stuff, the guts” – which means that even just one session at Audition Doctor usually changes not only the way you approach a character, but the way you approach the wider craft of acting itself.