Combatting Competition in the Industry at Audition Doctor

Combatting Competition in the Industry at Audition Doctor

Why go to drama schoolThe Times this week featured an article centred around the current crop of British male acting talent and the evolving face of theatre. Tim Piggot-Smith spoke of how “British theatre has been forced to become leaner, less complacent. “There’s not as much theatre around now which means there’s much more competition for less and less work.” This competition, in turn, raises everybody’s game. The result? A virtuous cycle of effort and ability.”

Mark Strong commented on the difficult nature of vying for the same roles as your peers: “It’s a complicated dynamic, a really odd balance because you form these very, very tight relationships with people. They’re your pals, but then you’re also competing with them for work. There are a lot of us chasing a few jobs.”

The rise of professional actors coming to Audition Doctor is evidence of actors being aware of the need to continuously push through their own creative barriers in order to be real contenders in auditions. Actors who come to Audition Doctor are conscious of the value of relentless practice.

As Helen McCrory said: “I’m aware that I have been very lucky but I have also grafted hard. Acting isn’t something that’s just in you. As with anything in life, you have to learn it, and work at it, and improve yourself all the time.”

James McAvoy also voiced the importance of actors being vulnerable enough to stretch themselves to emotional brinks – something that Audition Doctor students are pushed to do.

“The source of theatre is human sacrifice. The first time we killed someone in front of a crowd to make the gods like us better, that’s where we got our theatre. And I think there’s still an element of that, when it’s frightening and electric, and you’re watching actors who are giving themselves in such a committed way that they are almost sweating blood. And that’s what I always try to do. I’d rather people went out twice a year to see a really good, dangerous piece of theatre in which they were genuinely concerned for the actor on stage, rather than just going to see loads of dead-easy bourgeois f***ing pieces of s***, the dead-easy stuff that gets put on just to sell out quickly.”

Consequently, the speeches that students choose to work on are important. Speeches that give students a chance to commit and sweat blood are the monologues that Audition Doctor urges students to pick. The reason for the success of Audition Doctor’s students is the emotional depths that they plumb. These come as a result of rigorous analysis of both character and play.

Viggo Mortensen recently spoke in the Guardian of his legendary commitment to research when it came to approaching roles: “I just think that the more realistic and specific you are with the details, the more universal the story becomes.”

Audition Doctor students succeed in landing jobs because they give something more in auditions. As a spectator you end up not merely watching a performance but getting the sense of being actively involved in the story.


Apprenticeships and Training After Drama School

Apprenticeships and Training After Drama School


Both Judi Dench and Helen McCrory have recently professed the importance of the continuation of training outside the confines of drama school.

In her column in The Stage, Susan Elkin wrote: “Judi Dench told Patsy Rodenburg, who repeated it to me en passant, that when she was a young actor you could sit in digs at breakfast with other older cast members who would casually pass on advice such as: “You know, if you paused for slightly longer after that line you’d get a bigger laugh”. Now, Dench had trained at Central but here she was humbly honing her craft…”

McCrory, in an interview at the National Theatre, in turn spoke of how her early experience at the National was an extension of her drama school education: “That was my training for the next four years”. Appearing in The Seagull alongside Judi Dench was integral in her progression as an actress: “That’s what I’ve learned from watching Judi Dench all those years ago – she asked questions.”

Elkin went onto suggest that apprenticeships in theatre, currently offered mostly to those working backstage, should extend to actors: “Many a graduating actor would benefit from, say, a couple of years with a company. During that period the actor would see the production of several plays, gaining hands-on, on-the-spot experience of professional theatre with plenty of exposure to more experienced people.”

In the same week, Emilia Fox described going to drama school as an “insurance policy”. However, it’s worthy to note that Elkin is advocating “a formal mentoring structure, a development, perhaps, of what used to happen in the good old days of rep theatre” for actors who have received professional training. Even those who have had access to guidance from drama schools find it hard to avoid “the usual agent-at-any-price-regardless-of-quality scramble”. It appears evident that even those who have attended the best drama schools are not inoculated against the difficulties of the profession.

While apprenticeships such as the one Elkin advocates have yet to turn mainstream, drama school applicants, recent graduates and professional actors have been attending Audition Doctor as a way of broadening their abilities and seeking advice. Audition Doctor has proved especially popular with freshly graduated drama school students who book Audition Doctor sessions to maintain momentum and originality between their first professional auditions.

Helen McCrory’s comment on the importance of asking questions is what Audition Doctor is all about; not just questioning the text and artistic choices, but also having Tilly available on-hand to give experienced and unbiased advice.