This week the Stage announced that figures from the University and Colleges Admissions Service show that the number of applications to drama courses for 2013 have increased by 7.3%, with nearly 50,000 made.
The expectation that applications would slump drastically due to the tuition fees hike has proven to be unfounded. You would have thought that with the papers routinely filled with phrases such as “fiscal cliff” and “challenging economic climate”, entering a profession with no guarantee of regular work would be an unattractive prospect. Not so. The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama said it had experienced a 12% increase from last year. Of the near 5,900 applications it received this year, around 4,900 were for its BA acting course.
If the odds are in your favour (175:1) and you do manage to get a place at drama school, it’s cheering to know that the competition is just as infuriatingly furious in the actual profession. However helpful conservatoire training is, to think that a drama school degree will automatically mean you are “set” is to be naïve.
The Stage also published an article in the same week entitled “Top tips on How to Make Your Audition Count” where they asked actors, casting directors and agents to give their most valuable advice. Every single one of them began with “preparation”. From April Nicholson’s “Proper preparation prevents poor performance”, Alexandra Lloyd-Hamilton’s “Preparation, preparation, preparation”, Jimmy Jewell’s “Over-prepare”, Mark Inscoe’s “Be prepared” to Spencer James’ “Prepare!”
Not only is the run up to auditions a long one, but the wait between multiple recalls sometimes feels interminable. Most people find the early stages of preparing for drama school auditions easy – finding speeches, filling in the forms, organising audition dates, are all done in an initial optimistic flush. The hardest bit comes when you are six months in the process, when you’ve had a couple of recalls but also a couple of rejections. It is at this stage that the need to keep your audition speeches fresh and spontaneous is crucial. The audition panel don’t care that this is your tenth audition, the whole point of acting is to make it seem like it’s the first time you’ve uttered the words that you’ve said countless times before in front of countless impassive panels. They want you to be a convincing human being. This can be difficult when you’ve woken up at 5am to catch the train to get to your 9am audition in Bristol. This is why sessions at Audition Doctor are priceless. Getting to the emotional place in your speech every time is vital to securing a recall and the work done with Audition Doctor enables you to do this.
The temptation to just “wing it” and “see what happens” is alluring at some stages during the auditioning process – with many erroneously confusing under-preparation with inspiration. The ability to make interesting and daring choices spontaneously can only happen with months of text-work, exploration and preparation. Professional actors continuously stress the necessity of extensive preparation and working with Audition Doctor means that you automatically outrival those naïve or arrogant enough to think they can just go into an audition without having done any work on their character or the play.