In an interview for The Stage, Samuel Barnett spoke of his experience playing Posner in The History Boys at the National: “…it was in that role I started to really learn my craft. Drama school is amazing, it teaches you so much about how the industry works, but it’s the work itself which teaches you your craft: timing and delivery and subtlety.”
Aside from drama school applicants, a large number of Audition Doctor’s students are professional actors who want to continuously better their craft between as well as on jobs. The appetite for improvement and readiness to be challenged is what characterises all Audition Doctor students. However, many find that the sessions are about acting less and refraining from doing more than is necessary.
Robert De Niro said in an interview: “It’s simpler than you think. It’s very hard for many actors and I get caught up in it myself, where you think you have to do more, do something, you don’t have to do anything, nothing and you’re better off and it’ll work.
[It’s like] the way people are in life, they don’t do anything. You know, I’m talking to you and I’m looking at your expression and you could’ve been told that something terrible happened to your family and you’re still going to have the same look on your face. That allows the audience to read into it rather than telling them what they should feel…Sometimes you don’t have to spin it or interpret it, you just have to do it and it’ll take care of itself.”
Audition Doctor sessions are useful in paring down whatever you’re working on to the simple truth without ridding the performance itself of nuance and complexity.
Barnett went onto say how different spaces have affected his performances. “[The National] can be a tricky space in terms of making contact with the audience.” He feels as if he’s done his best work in spaces such as the old Bush Theatre. “I adore those small intimate spaces where you really do feel like you can look people in the eye. It is a different kind of technique, I think. You can give what is a very televisual performance, people can see every flick of your eyes. In the Olivier, it’s not that you need to be bigger in your performance, but perhaps more driven and more intense – though I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules.”
The advantage of Audition Doctor is that the interpretation you come to perform can be modulated to any space. Furthermore, having a professional who can make you aware of how you can inhabit and command a space puts you at a distinct advantage at auditions.
The work done at Audition Doctor pushes students to make more daring choices and to challenge themselves to tackle characters that don’t fall into their safe zone. However, the advantage that Audition Doctor’s students have is that Tilly encourages them to enhance their own particular qualities and singularities in such roles. This echoes Meryl Streep’s response to people asking why she chose to play characters seemingly so different from her:
“Well, why did God invent imagination? Should I have played women from central New Jersey all my life? The people I have played in movies and in the theatre have all felt like me to me.”