This week, Lyn Gardner wrote of an experience she had at the Forest Fringe: “I had one of those moments in the theatre when it feels as if you have seen something that was made just for you. They don’t happen often, but when they do, it is as if the artist has glimpsed inside your heart and mind, and made a gift just for you. One that you will carry with you…But it isn’t the case that such a performance will speak to other people in the same way it speaks to you…art isn’t fixed, it’s malleable, plastic and shape-shifting.”
The flexibility and spontaneity that theatre offers an actor is also the reason why actors who are preparing for television or film roles come to Audition Doctor. The live response to their work and artistic choices are an important part of the development of their craft.
In an interview about Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke mentioned: “Some actors have a plan: “This is what I’m going to achieve in this scene” and you can usually smell it which means you’re not watching creativity but a kind of re-creativity. Like “I cry on this line” and sometimes it’s quite good. But with Robin, he had no idea what was going to happen….All the best performers I’ve ever worked with create their own vibration of spontaneity.”
However, Hawke was also quick to say that spontaneity only emerged out of a wealth of preparation and attention to detail.
“Peter Weir used to say that the difference between being good and great is like one twist of the screw but it’s the hardest one to do…so much rehearsal, so much thought needs to go into the tiniest gesture that ultimately needs to be spontaneous and can’t even be planned out.”
Audition Doctor offers this level of both research and rehearsal, which consequently often gives rise to the twist in the screw that Weir speaks of. Furthermore, the engagement of heart as well as head that the sessions encourage mean that the character you create is true to the text.
Hawke said in the same interview: [Every kind of art, not just acting] is like a sailboat, Every true moment, every beautiful thing, every honest thought puts wind in the sail. Every fake moment every cheat, every lie is a little tear. If you have a few tears, the ship will still move. But to make The Godfather…there’s got to be no tears. How many can we get rid of? How much truth can we put in the sail? If we can do that we can make something really beautiful.”
Actors come to Audition Doctor because they find that the more sessions they attend, the fewer tears there are in their performance. Getting rid of them takes regular practice and commitment, however, students find that it pays off because they put themselves in the position where they are closer to giving an audience the experience that Gardner speaks of.
Today, Lyn Gardner asked the question: “Would you do your job – the one you’ve been trained to do – for free?” She was referring to the unfair yet widespread practice of professional actors working for free on the London Fringe and other events such as Edinburgh. Having fought off three thousand other candidates to get into drama school, undergone rigorous vocational training, many come out the other end performing for free. One could argue that this is a “work experience” of sorts and the chance to continue to develop the skills that you were taught at drama school. It’s an opportunity to perform roles that you might not have been cast as at drama school and there is always the possibility that influential casting directors will attend, be floored by your performance and catapult you into the world of award-winning feature films.
However, the stiffness of the competition to work for absolutely nothing is both mad and maddening. A current profit-share production of Measure for Measure at the Union Theatre auditioned over 1,000 actors for 10 roles despite the lack of a salary if cast. Gardner cited the reason for this was “because whereas once a small number of drama schools produced a limited number of actors each year, now there are vast numbers of university courses producing graduates who are ready to go straight into the profession. Many, furthermore, are weighed down by student debt.”
There is a sense that the thousands of students coming out of drama-based university courses every year are industry fodder – there aren’t enough parts for everyone who has spent 3 concentrated years receiving focused conservatoire training at drama schools, let alone people who have “studied” acting at university. However, neither is a drama school training a guarantee of skilled artistry. Mark Rylance mentioned that when auditioning actors, “sometimes, people will have had bad training, and I’ll think: I’m going to have to unravel a lot here.”
Whether you are trying to get into drama school or just out of it, you have to be at the top of your game to get anywhere and Audition Doctor ensures that you are match-fit for any audition. Rylance compares auditioning actors to “rather like looking at football players. You have to build the team, the company.” Working for free may be far from ideal but it’s better to be active and build up a range of roles. Working with Audition Doctor means that you don’t feel like the craft that you have spent 3 years honing is put on the back burner and that you are continually stretching your acting chops so you are ready for any audition opportunity that comes your way.
Lyn Gardner’s piece in the Guardian this week on how the Arts Council’s £11.6m budget cut would undoubtedly lead to “cancelled productions, job losses and boarded-up theatres” was a depressing read – one of many recent articles focusing on the Arts’ bleak prospects and its slow annihilation (despite endless reports that prove that West End productions generate millions for the British economy). However, in another part of the paper, it was refreshing to read Oliver Ford Davies’ theory that 50 years ago, parents used to say, “You must get a safe, secure job: why don’t you go into a bank?” Now there aren’t any safe, secure jobs so that argument has gone; parents say, “Why don’t you give acting a go?”
There is something cheering about the fact that the disastrous state of the economy has effectively levelled out the professional playing field. Every job has a high risk of redundancies, and uncertainty is the prevailing climate in the Square Mile as well as in the rehearsal room. Although the acting profession is infamously known for being fickle and unstable, entering into institutions that used to guarantee stable jobs is now just as precarious.
However, it would be foolhardy to suggest that aspiring actors can just throw themselves into the profession without proper vocational training. Although Rafe Spall recently commented that his failure to get into drama school was a boon – “I had three years’ advantage over everyone else at drama school – I was out there meeting casting directors and acting professionally.” – most aspiring actors don’t have the benefit of a well-respected actor as a father. The majority will rely on drama school show-cases to forge connections with agents and casting directors.
When asked how the Industry had changed over 20 years, Davies commented on how many more people have entered the profession. This is why coming to Audition Doctor is a must, as it has proven itself to be the essential stepping-stone to drama school. Proper training that comprises of voice, audition and movement technique will distinguish the serious professional from the person who is “giving acting a go.” Audition Doctor sessions alert drama school hopefuls on what they need to work on and audition speeches that highlight their natural abilities which inevitably lead to successful drama school auditions. Entering the acting profession is a gamble but going to Audition Doctor gives you the best possible chance of success and ensures that it is a risk worth taking.