Preparation is the primary reason why both professional actors and drama school applicants come to Audition Doctor. Preparation is also the topic that journalists love to question actors about. Many avoid discussing how they prepare for a part with one interview with Olivia Colman stating: “Colman doesn’t like talking about acting. She bats away my questions awkwardly with comments like, “It’s not very technical” or “I just pretend I’m in that situation”. It’s as if she finds the conversation pretentious and embarrassing.” However much actors avoid talking about preparing, there is never any denial over its importance in the successful creation of a role. With talk by actors such as Judi Dench about the decline of repertory theatre, places such as Audition Doctor have become alternative yet integral spaces in which to rehearse, prepare, fail, and as the Beckett saying goes, fail better.
Aside from professional actors, a significant proportion of Audition Doctor’s students are those applying for drama school. BBC News this week ran an article that discussed the importance of such establishments in a performer’s development: “One element is not disputed: winning a place at drama school is key. That is where you gain experience, find an agent and make industry contacts. But the competition for places is fierce.” The article went onto examine how attending classes before auditions for drama school, such as those offered at Audition Doctor, often gave students an undeniable edge.
In response to the question “Do lessons stand you in good stead in an application for drama schools like Central, Rada and Lamda? Florence Hall, a student representative on the audition panel at Drama Centre replied: ”It’s not that they wouldn’t consider someone who hadn’t had any experience before, if they came in and clearly had raw talent, but you do have to look like you’re going to be able to respond to training which I think doing classes helps you to do. You learn to not be embarrassed to try things out.”
The cause of Audition Doctor’s students’ success in auditions lies in the judgement-free atmosphere that Tilly fosters. Consequently, this results in an unselfconscious and authentic performance. However, the students that get parts and places at drama school are those who prepare for Audition Doctor sessions themselves. The more preparation that is done outside of the session means that there is more to experiment and play around with.
Speaking of preparing for her recent role as P. L. Travers on the BAFTA website, Emma Thompson said: “There was so much information on this woman so I ingested as much information as I could over a period of six months; listened to everything, watched everything, read everything, then the trick is to let go of all of that information because you’ve got to trick your psyche into thinking that it’s someone else and you can’t do that by being conscious of being that person. So it’s a very odd magic trick. It’s more like a magician’s trick than anything else.”
The reason why actors are sometimes unwilling to speak of the preparation involved in forming a character is undoubtedly because there is some involvement of inarticulable alchemy that Thompson speaks of, and any effort to explain it may come across affected and pompous. However, many find that it is often at Audition Doctor that this is experienced, which is why students find Audition Doctor an incalculable investment.