One of the main reasons why Audition Doctor gets so busy in the autumn is down to the fact that many drama school applicants feel that they need help with the demands of Shakespeare.
In an interview for The Telegraph to promote his and Claire van Kempen’s upcoming production of Farinelli and the King, Mark Rylance spoke of how Shakespeare has become synonymous with academia, classrooms and reading as opposed to live performance.
“Reverence for Shakespeare is very unhelpful,” he continues, “and he wouldn’t have desired that. It’s something that is drummed into you at school. We must not force the theatre into a literary place – in the same way that the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter shouldn’t be studied in a classroom. It’s a song designed to thrill a huge crowd of people.”
Many students have credited Audition Doctor with removing the idea of Shakespeare as being rigid, unintelligible and merely something to “get right and out of the way” so the panel put you through to the next round of auditions.
Mark Rylance went onto say:“You have to tell the story that Shakespeare has written. And you have to tell it as vivaciously as you can in order to win over the audience, otherwise it’s a flat and confusing experience.”
This is why students at Audition Doctor keep up consistent weekly or bimonthly lessons – especially if they are in the run up to drama school auditions. The vivacity that Rylance believes actors should bring to the stage is difficult to achieve without committed practice.
As Michael Fassbender said: “Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods because he practised that fucking swing 100 times a day. Why should acting be any different? It’s just boring repetition, and through that, I find things start to break down, and you start to find the nuances, all the interesting little details.”
To differentiate yourself from the thousands of others, the nuances and interesting little details that emerge through painstaking rehearsal are key. This is what Audition Doctor arms every actor with.
With drama school auditions, the panel want to see your strengths and a taste of the kind of actor you have the potential to become.
Danny Boyle said: “When you start off your career you think there’s only one way of achieving anything, but when you get to work with really experienced actors, they’ll give you alternatives, and emotional differences between scenes. Hot, then cooler so that you’ve got choices in the editing for how the storytelling is emerging. That’s what you get with an actor like Fassbender – he finds variation on multiple takes, rather than just doing the same thing again and again. It is incredible to witness.”
What Audition Doctor gives every student is choice; usually a range of bold options that show the panel that you are capable of experimentation and a gamut of emotional colour.
Aside from drama school applicants, professional actors come to Audition Doctor because the returns are career-enhancing. They recognise that the repetitive and relentless exploration in the sessions is the reason why they get more work.
As Fassbender once remarked: “I’m flavour of the month at the moment, but somebody else is going to roll around the corner in three months’ time. I just want to keep working.”
Those who come to Audition Doctor usually do.
In an interview for Film 4, Tom Hiddleston said: “I call acting 3D anthropology or archeology; in the way that you’re out there digging away at the mine shafts of the collective emotions of human beings – in the present and the past. Actors have to bring back their findings and put them in the glass case that is the [performance].”
The process of excavating emotions and exploring which best suits certain interpretations takes time and regular commitment. This is why both the professional actors and drama school applicants that come to Audition Doctor attend regular sessions.
As Matthew McConaughey said: “When it’s wonderful, when it works, you go into a scene and you have 16 different ways of telling the truth. When you’re stuck, sometimes you’re just trying to protect yourself from telling a lie. Sometimes you just feel like you’re just connecting the dots and that’s all I really can do. I don’t have the song.”
Audition Doctor is popular because the work undertaken in the sessions has time and time again helped unstick actors in auditions. Students who come to Audition Doctor give themselves the opportunity for studied preparation and the gift of having thoroughly explored the idiosyncrasies and motivations of their character.
Michael Fassbender commented: “My preparation is the same whether it’s for a $150m film or a $1.5m film or whatever, I’ve got a lot of homework to do. I’ve got to be well-equipped when I come onto the floor and I want to come onto the floor with ideas and I also want to be well prepared so I have the ability to have the freedom to explore any avenue on the day.”
Audition Doctor students will attest that sessions afford them an artistic freedom that sets them apart from others who are auditioning. Students always enter with a spectrum of objectives, intentions and opinions on a character. The flexibility and understanding that characterises an Audition Doctor student is palpable in the auditioning room, especially when being redirected.
Aside from giving students the capability and confidence of making bold and unorthodox choices, Audition Doctor also provides actors with a safety net. The level of preparation and dissection of not only the role but the play itself means that if for whatever reason you falter, you know that, as an actor, you are in possession of a kind of parachute.
For McConaughey, he finds something in the script that is “a real personal politic. It blankets an entire performance and it also gives me something to fly with, something that I can have in my pocket if I get in trouble in a scene. I can go “well I know this man is about this. I know he needs this – throughout – before this story ever started and after this story goes away.”
He described his process now: “I try to get the guy’s monologue then I can get the dialogue.” Similarly, Audition Doctor sessions mainly focus on individual speeches. The honing and moulding of their voice in a particular speech gives casting directors or drama school audition panels the knowledge that they will be able to carry this authenticity through into the wider context of the play.
Students who come to Audition Doctor gain success because the level of research and experimentation undertaken in the sessions mean they never deliver an “act by numbers” performance that merely joins the dots.