Audition Doctor Goes Global

You would have thought that a profession whose primary concern is reflecting the complexities and contradictions of the multifaceted nature of human existence would celebrate the diversity of its practitioners. To be an actor (unless you seek to be one of the Hugh Grant variety) means fulfilling the job description of being a chameleon. Yet frustratingly, graduates out of drama school have the cheery prospect of not being given opportunities to get the most out of their training.

Typecasting is still endemic and this week Stephen Poliakoff conceded: “I still think we tend to cast black people in working class roles all the time, much more so than America as they have a much larger black middle class,” he says. “I think there is a little lack of imagination in that casting, and I know one or two black actors that come across as posh and find it very difficult to get hired because people are always looking for drug dealers and gangsters on the street.” On the other side of the spectrum, Benedict Cumberbatch was also portrayed as a “moaning, rich, public school bastard who complained about only getting “posh” roles.” At least there is some justice in the fact that it appears no one is immune to being pigeonholed.

It is surprising that an industry that is by its very definition relates to creativity, fantasy and make-believe can have so little imagination when it comes to casting. There is a risk that despite having received peerless drama school training, and proving that you can indeed successfully transcend the baggage of your education, provenance, skin colour, accent (and in some cases – even gender) to inhabit everyone from Lady Macbeth to a starving Russian peasant amidst the throes of the Revolution, you will be given roles of a certain type.

The only thing you can do to get any part is to stun the drama school audition panel or director with something that is totally unique to you which they can’t get out of anyone else even during extensive rehearsals. This is what Audition Doctor excels in; as much as acting is about overcoming yourself, it is also about exposing aspects of your own experience and personality. Audition Doctor always endeavours to pick and approach speeches that enhance your own currency – the simple fact of being you.

Today, Hattie Morahan was interviewed about working with Katie Mitchell straight out of university and said: “”I hadn’t trained [at drama school], so it was the first time I’d encountered any structured approach to getting under the skin of a play or a character.” The benefit of coming to Audition Doctor is precisely that – it is the rare advantage of having Tilly guide you through the practicalities of inhabiting a character as well as having the relaxed space to experiment artistically. It is this that has meant that Audition Doctor has become indispensable and is now internationally recognised, with students coming to see Tilly from as far as Austria, Hong Kong and South Africa to seek audition advice.

Drama School and Theatre – Worth the Investment

When Hattie Morahan won the Natasha Richardson Award for Best Actress at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards last Sunday, the papers were quick to draw attention to the fact that she had received no formal acting training. Despite her recent success, however, Morahan did intimate that drama school might have been a wise route to take: “Because I didn’t go to drama school, I didn’t start in the business with any toolbox apart from enthusiasm and instinct. I’d throw everything at a part and sometimes realise that I had hit my limits.”

With auditions for drama school looming, many potential students will be debating whether to enter into a profession which Nicholas Hytner this week said was “on a knife’s edge”.

Morahan notes that “fewer films are made, so it’s harder to get on television, because all the film actors are doing TV. And TV budgets are cut…In theatre, it seems that artistic directors spend 90 per cent of their day on bended knee begging either the Arts Council or wealthy people to give them money.” However, it isn’t all negative as she argues that “even in these times London is the most exciting I have seen in years…people are unafraid to push the boundaries, and I keep seeing the most extraordinary work.”

Much like drama school, Audition Doctor provides a relaxed space in which students can have what Morahan perhaps wished she had had before stepping onto a professional stage – the opportunity to test limits and the chance to experiment.

When this weekend’s Observer asked Simon Russell Beale: “Will people continue to go to drama school, given how much debt they’ll now incur?” He replied: “I’m sure they will. But that isn’t a very good answer, is it? I get letters from students wanting money all the time. We all do: ask any actor. It’s heartbreaking.”

While drama school might now seem like a financially dubious choice, like with any vocation, training is paramount. Competition is stiff and Audition Doctor gives you a relaxed space in which to fail, explore and discover. The confidence that comes with being willing to fail and test boundaries is something that Tilly actively fosters. It is this quality that will be sought after not only at drama schools, but also in an industry whose members are currently desperate to prove to the Government that their livelihoods are worthwhile and that their work is not an exorbitant extravagance only to be enjoyed in times of affluence. It has enormous influence on the spiritual well-being of the country’s citizens. Unfortunately, however, as Sarah Sands opined in The Evening Standard: “spiritual health does not come under the Treasury brief.”