Choice and Experimentation at Audition Doctor

Help with acting by Audition DoctorBrian Cox, Bill Paterson and Mark Thomson were interviewed in the Independent about their recent production of Waiting for Godot at the Edinburgh Lyceum.

Paterson said: “Even if you’ve seen Beckett, if you’ve seen Godot, you underestimate what it needs. You tend to think it’s incredibly simple staging, just two guys, but it’s much more complex – probably than what we anticipated, I think it’s fair to say. But you can see how people have it as part of their repertoire. Once you get these parts under your belt you could live with them forever. They’re like arias, the characters. They’re operatic, almost.”

Shakespeare’s work, much like Beckett’s, is part of a national repertoire. The requisite Shakespeare monologues that drama school applicants have to perform have been seen countless times; it’s easy to fall into the trap of acting it the way you assume they should be done, rather than treating them as fresh texts that are worthy of real emotional excavation and experimentation. Actors have found Audition Doctor sessions helpful in that they break down the intimidating barrier that some actors understandably feel prevents them from really digging deep and making bold choices with the text.

Thomson went onto say about Waiting for Godot: “It takes away a lot of your familiar anchors. It denies you, it takes away set, relationships, character. Every line, there’s a choice. That’s when you realise the detail of thinking… you have a great mind that’s being very clever and quixotic, and you trust him. It’s like tuning into a bandwidth, you feel about and then you get it and you jump onto it. I think anyone taking on Beckett as an actor, it’s an act of faith and bravery.”

At Audition Doctor, the emphasis is always on choice and being unafraid to make vulnerable decisions if it serves the character’s motivations. Tuning into any writer or character’s bandwidth, however, takes consistent rehearsal and preparation. Those who succeed in gaining strides in understanding their character’s world and psychological landscape are those that work regularly at Audition Doctor. The consistent graft that is undertaken at Audition Doctor often leads to breakthroughs – both in terms of understanding the character and landing professional jobs.

Cox stated of Godot: “…it’s exhausting. It’s a hard play, there’s no easy way to chart it. There are bits in it which are effortlessly magnificent, and there are bits where you have to work your socks off to pull the focus of it and keep the engine of it going. It’s scarily simple, that’s the problem with it, and you have to trust that.”

Audition Doctor’s students have found that keeping the engine going and playing the truth of the scene becomes so much easier with practice.

Although he was speaking about dance, Matthew Bourne summed up the importance of coming back to “revisiting past work and improving it” in The Stage this week:

“A lot of choreographers like to create something then they don’t want to do it again. But for me you can always do better and find new ways to be creative with a piece – there’s no doubt that they’ve always got better when they come back. Every one has had a very big overhaul when they come back for the first or second time.”

Sessions with Tilly are about finding ways to be better and to push each actor’s creative limitations further, which is why most students come back to Audition Doctor frequently.