Picking Speeches

Insanity was once defined by Einstein as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. One of the many reasons why students come to Audition Doctor is the fact that they find that they are not getting the recalls they so desperately want. They perform the same two speeches over and over again at every drama school audition without success.

Audition Doctor has always stressed that the most important decision you make is your choice of speeches. However, many candidates continue to pick speeches that they perhaps think will show their range, yet which are ostensibly not suitable for where they are in their development.

Steve Winter, head of Old Vic New Voices, advised in Ideastap: “Don’t play a pensioner when you’re 21. Play to your strengths and embrace whatever age you are.” There are hundreds of great monologues for people in their twenties and thirties out there – so don’t just reach for the grandparent role.”

Furthermore, Winter commented on casting sessions where students failed to read the actual play from which the speech was chosen. Reading the play multiple times is a must. It’s essential that you have as thorough an understanding of your character as possible. Additionally, showing that you have a lack of knowledge of the play reveals a lack of interest and preparation. Drama schools are renowned for their insistence on total commitment, not bothering to do something so basic as read the play will guarantee no recall.

“You need to know the playwright, story and character arc of the monologue you are performing,” says Steve. For all you know, this might be the monologue delivered just before the character reveals that they are a pathological liar, or in prison, or actually in love with their mother. If you don’t know the context, it’s hard to give a really informed performance. Also, OVNV are looking for actors who are dedicated and enthusiastic enough to do their research. As Steve says, “Phrases such as. ‘I just selected it from the monologue book my tutor gave me’ are not words we like to hear.”

Audition Doctor is not the place to come if you aren’t thirsty to stretch your acting capabilities. Most of Tilly’s students come ready with several different speeches and ideas of how to approach them. Audition Doctor will not find audition speeches for you because the hunt for the perfect speech is important in itself. The writing must speak to you personally as the organic process of exploring the speech is a lengthy one. In other words, you have to care about what you’re saying to be able to convey the emotion and vulnerability that the writer asks of you.

When Arthur Darvill was asked how useful his training at RADA was, he responded: “Training is a funny thing. I was very lucky and went to RADA. That was the Holy Grail for me, before I went. But it meant that I spent my first year trying to “get it right” rather than get what I could from it. The truth is you never get it right, you just keep learning. Drama school was a great opportunity to do that and – like any place of learning – you get out what you put in.”

Audition Doctor is much the same.