Anthony Head was interviewed in The Stage this week and commented on how actors, particularly British actors, are the only artists who cease to develop their discipline after drama school.
We’re the only artists who don’t practise regularly,” he explains, “and if you can’t throw crap at the wall in a safe environment, you can’t really do it when you’re working. You can in theatre to a certain extent, but in the confines of a role. The thing about acting class is that you can do anything.”
Head has credited the acting lessons he took in America during the filming of Buffy the Vampire Slayer as integral to the success of his career. While acting lessons have been ingrained into the culture of the American acting industry, the same cannot be said in Britain. However, things are changing. The rise of Audition Doctor’s popularity particularly with professional actors has risen dramatically. The undeniable fact is to get better, one must relentlessly practice. Head credits his wife with pushing him to attend the lessons, saying to him: “Listen, you need to do something well, instead of doing…things half-arsed’.”
Head went onto comment: “It’s great to put yourself in those positions, to flex those muscles and find out what works and what doesn’t work. Because that’s what acting’s about – getting to do things in your life that, hopefully, we don’t have to do. And when it’s a rollercoaster ride, it’s exciting. We go through a gamut of emotions in [a] play.”
Audition Doctor sessions are all about strengthening the muscles that the actor feels the role needs. The specificity of the sessions for each student reflects the detail of the work undertaken.
Christopher Waltz was interviewed by Xan Brooks in the Guardian: “Carl Jung once claimed that if you collected a sample of 1,000 pebbles, you could calculate the average weight of a pebble on the beach. And yet the chances of finding a single pebble that matches that weight is about a million to one: it basically can’t be done.”
Waltz stressed that the analogy was appropriate when approaching the creation of a character:
You cannot reach a generality and you cannot reach an individual through generalities.”
Students who come to Audition Doctor have the luxury of gradually building up the psyche and inner landscape of a believable human being. The depth of research and experimentation that they commit to in the sessions is so comprehensive that they generally surpass the other candidates for the job in terms of knowledge of the character and the play itself.
Anthony Head advised young actors when auditioning to “Make a choice and stick with it. And don’t be scared of making a choice because if you don’t get it, you don’t get it. But if you do get it, you’ll get it.”
Audition Doctor is all about taking risks and making fearless artistic choices. The character that actors form in the sessions are always marked out by audition panels as being totally original. This is why students often land the jobs they audition for.
In a discussion called Is Acting Art? on the programme The Actors’ Roundtable, Christopher Waltz mentioned that while the performance that an actor gives can be called art, it’s the result that makes the art and not necessarily the process that leads to it.”
Nicholas Cage countered this idea and argued that “the happy accidents that happen between lines” that make certain performances spectacular have little to do with craft and a lot more to do with imagination.
Audition Doctor’s indispensability lies in the nurturing of the two. In the same discussion, Stanley Tucci stated: “In order for something to be art, it has to be truthful. Secondly, it has to be individually truthful and it’s that true individuality that makes art.”
Audition Doctor sessions are about creating emotionally detailed characters. The speeches that students work on are helpfully looked over by Tilly to ensure that they are suited to their individual talents.
This is especially useful for drama school applicants. Even experienced actors find it necessary to seek a second opinion. Tamsin Greig recently said: “I’m not brilliant at reading scripts. You would’ve thought I would’ve got better…so I take a lot of advice.”
In an interview with David Hare in today’s Telegraph, Gaby Wood wrote: “In plays from Plenty to Skylight to The Vertical Hour, characters’ emotions are as strong as their beliefs, and the electricity in the dialogue comes from fine tunings of disappointment or misunderstanding. Whole swathes of history can be dredged up in a single room; love can be ignited and lost within minutes.”
Students who come to Audition Doctor consistently find they become less intimidated by such scenes and that their approach becomes far more nuanced and specific.
Benicio Del Toro said: “There’s a science to acting. There are many obstacles that stop you from being good in front of that audience, as there are many obstacles that will make you freeze up in front of a camera. There is a riddle to it that is never the same, from role to role.”
Audition Doctor’s ability to remove the obstacles in an actor’s performance is one of the many reasons as to why Tilly is in high demand.
Del Toro went onto say: “It’s a difficult business, no doubt at all. People don’t realise that. The obvious advice for an actor is to work on acting and question what it is – all the time, everyday. But perhaps the best advice is to work on everything from the basis of theatre. I don’t think there’s such thing as acting for movies – there’s just acting.” This line of thinking is why Audition Doctor’s client base includes actors who are auditioning for all mediums – not just theatre.
Fiona Shaw recounted her experience of playing Electra and said: “Electra made me realise that a play – with the right cast, in the right moment, in the right place – can be like sculpture and painting and literature all at once…People come to the theatre in the hope that it will have something to do with them – and when it touches them, it is both painful and brilliant.”
Those that attend Audition Doctor are encouraged to develop both craft and art; it is the confluence of both that engenders a truthful performance and hopefully a meaningful emotional exchange between actor and audience.