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.


Drama Schools – Commissioners of New Theatre

This week, Lyn Gardner asked readers: “Who has commissioned or co-produced some of the potentially most interesting new theatre that is taking place over the next couple of weeks?”  The answer was drama schools. Increasingly, drama schools such as the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and East 15 are commissioning new writing to develop with their students.

Many cite the primary reason for going to drama school as being seen and subsequently signed by an agent. However, as Dave Bond of the RWCMD points out…”It [also] gets theatre and theatre writers and directors to connect with graduates, and sometimes they take those graduates with them as their careers progress.”

As Stephen Jameson of Mountview argues: “It’s a virtuous circle of creativity.” And as Christopher Haydon, artistic director of the Gate which is hosting the RWCMD shows, says: “It’s an exciting way of scoring lots of goals with less risk.”

Some prospective applicants to drama school worry about what Jameson calls “the certain marionette aspect to a traditional drama-school education for actors”. However, partnerships between drama schools and new writing proves that drama schools “recognise that [their students] are creative people and foster a progressive programme of work for graduating students that reflects the current developments in theatre in this country and gives them a real understanding of the devising and creative process”.

Many students who come out of drama school form their own theatre companies to ensure that they have a sense of creative autonomy in an industry beleaguered by cuts. Consequently, work – if offered at all – can be safe and devoid of risk. Only when the element of risk is involved can the work potentially be interesting. The devising process that drama schools now offer alongside new writing means that students are knowledgeable in how to create a successful piece of theatre outside the confines of drama school.

As Gardner says: “It’s all to the good, particularly at a time when drama schools seem to be increasingly turning out graduates whose eyes are fixed firmly upon TV and movies rather than the theatre. By putting significant amounts of money and time into new theatre work they are indicating to their graduates that theatre still matters and helping playwrights, theatres and companies to create challenging new work.”

When interviewed about the upcoming production of “A View from the Bridge”, Mark Strong commented on why he has decided to return to the theatre: ‘I wanted to get back into a room with a group of people – all bright, all committed – and talk about why we do this stuff, and how we do it,’ he says enthusiastically. ‘Because film doesn’t really demand that. You tend to learn your lines in isolation, you might go in and have a quick chat with the director, then you’re on camera. And you’re disconnected from the process, really. Whereas in a rehearsal room, you’re going over a text again and again – especially a text like this, which has survived for so long because it’s so good. And if our job is to shine a light on human nature, then you really get a chance over a number of weeks to do that, and then over a number of performances to show it. It’s such a privilege.’

Audition Doctor sessions are similar to the rehearsal room that Strong describes. The text is mined and relentlessly explored. This makes the entire process of auditioning feel organic – invaluable when in the midst of drama school auditions which can make students feel like just another number. The time usually spent at Audition Doctor is spread over a number of months. The interpretation that you present to the panel will by no means be the only one you will have explored with Tilly. Ultimately, this means that when you are redirected, you will have the confidence to present a whole range of interpretations that are rooted in truth.