Keeping an Open Mind at Audition Doctor

Keeping an Open Mind at Audition Doctor

CRW_4973In an article in The Times, Emma Rice – new artistic director of the Globe – stated that “she would like to aim for a 50-50 split between roles for actors and actresses at the Globe, despite female characters being a minority in Shakespeare’s work.”

“There is a target,” she said. “I’d love for it to be 50-50. There’s no reason why Gloucester [in King Lear] can’t be a woman. If anyone can bend gender, it’s Shakespeare.”

The article cited the examples of Fiona Shaw as Richard II at the National Theatre, Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female productions of The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe in 2003 and Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse in 2012, as well as Maxine Peake’s Hamlet at the Manchester Royal Exchange in 2014.

While the film industry is famed for its conservative outlook on gender and race – (see Idris Elba’s recent speech on the lack of diversity in television here), theatre is where unconventional casting is allowing actors and directors to explore more radical avenues.

In an earlier interview for BAFTA, Idris Elba also advised young actors to keep an open mind both in terms of approaching characters and in terms of approaching their career.

“Keep an open mind. This may seem like an obvious thing, but you are the vessel and then on top of you and added into you are these personalities that you have to portray…Throw away any ideas you’ve got and start building a character from the beginning.

[Also], some actors starting out have this idea that they want to be movie stars and on TV but I started out in theatre and ended up in television…The theatre route just opened doors for me. As an actor you can do voiceovers, read scripts, read plays. Get as involved as you can without being too choosy about the kind of work that you do. It’s just really great to get your performance and creativity out.

Many actors have found that Audition Doctor have given them the opportunity to get their creativity out. Whether they are preparing for auditions or between jobs, the work that comes out of the sessions is vital for keeping their options open. Elba went onto advise young actors to “have an attention to detail” when it came to observing the emotional and psychological reactions of human beings.

Audition Doctor allows actors to put their observations and creativity into practice. The sessions are focused and at times exacting, however, all of Tilly’s students have credited the ambitious level of preparation that is expected of them as being an integral part of their development as an actor.

Many drama school candidates and professional actors attend Audition Doctor sessions in an attempt to unravel Shakespeare. For some of those applying to drama school, Shakespeare represents a hurdle to overcome as opposed to a weapon in their arsenal.

However, it is clear that Shakespeare plays are increasingly giving actors more opportunities to play the atypical and avoid being pigeon-holed. Competition for these kinds of roles is fierce and many have found that the space, time and guidance that Audition Doctor provides is an integral part of their preparation to getting the part.

Show Imagination and Innovation at Audition Doctor

Show Imagination and Innovation at Audition Doctor

CRW_4887Last year, Ophelia Lovibond was interviewed for Whatsonstage before she appeared in Lucy Prebble’s The Effect at Sheffield Theatres (Crucible Studio).

“I’m so excited…The luxury which I am realising I’ve not had working in film and television is the time to figure out every different facet of the character and discuss everything – it’s very addictive.”

Students at Audition Doctor often comment on sessions with Tilly in a similar vein. The regularity with which most attend is a testament to the value they place on the time for experimentation and discovery that Audition Doctor provides.

Lovibond spoke particularly of how acting for the stage was pushing her to learn “a different aspect of her craft. There are so many ideas that you can interrogate. And Daniel Evans, the director, is so full of ideas; he’ll make you try things out that hadn’t occurred to you and you discover something you never could have anticipated which enriches your performance so much more.”

Similarly, Audition Doctor alerts students to less obvious and consequently more interesting character choices. Many make the mistake of making bold choices for the sake of being remembered in an audition. At Audition Doctor, the choices made are original and daring without compromising the motivation of the text. Audition Doctor students are remembered for the right reasons at auditions – for playing unique characters that are ultimately rooted in truth.

Gael Garcia Bernal commented on his time at LAMDA saying: “Looking at it in retrospect it was of course very formative and incredibly important.” Aside from professional actors, Audition Doctor has proved highly popular with those applying to drama school. While some have used Audition Doctor as their main training ground, Tilly encourages everyone to receive formal training and the focus that the one-on-one nature of the sessions affords is integral to drama school candidates. With 5000 people auditioning, the need to assert individuality and imagination is a must to pass the numerous recall stages.

Furthermore, the brilliance of working consistently on one character at Audition Doctor is that the intensity of focus encourages a feeling of ownership. This is invaluable especially with parts – such as female parts in Shakespeare plays – that are not only limited, but also performed with such frequency.

Bernal spoke about the importance of ownership and how much easier it is as an actor to achieve in a television series and in theatre than in film: “In a film you don’t get the chance to feel that. Even if you do feel and develop that, later when you see it put together, you see a whole different collage of what you did. [In a series], you feel more in the chronology, like in a theatre.”

With drama school auditions, candidates don’t have the luxury that a full-length play affords to display this ownership over character.  Audition Doctor gives her students the ability to show a panel that they are fearless and innovative in the time it takes to perform their monologue, which is why most of Audition Doctor’s students go on to gain places at leading drama schools.

Balancing Intellect and Emotion at Audition Doctor

Balancing Intellect and Emotion at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 09.37.30In an interview for Whatsonstage, Kate Fleetwood spoke about Medea’s rehearsal process and said: “It’s hard in rehearsals to get that contact with something emotionally whilst also trying to contain an intellectual dialogue as well; it’s easy to bellow and scream your way through these things, you have to make sure you’re clear and the argument is being addressed.”

Speeches that demand this balancing act are the speeches that Audition Doctor always encourages students to tackle. If properly worked on, these speeches often reveal vulnerability and  a real mastery of craft. As Harriet Walter said in the Guardian: “Treat directors (and writers) as innocent until proven guilty. The good ones, if you don’t resist them, will take you places you never thought you could reach.”

However, as Fleetwood attests, it’s easy to confuse being loud with conveying honest emotion. This is a particular area in which countless students have cited Audition Doctor as being a great help.

Lenny Henry advised actors: “Think of long speeches as a series of connected thoughts, not one big clump of dialogue. Each thought, each sentence, is a separate piece of your armoury. Think through each sentence: about how you glue it together; what it means; how you feel when you say each thing. You’ll find it comes together like a kind of delicious soup.”

From the premeditated “actioning” of every thought, to spontaneous experimentation, Audition Doctor guides her students through a variety of techniques to ensure that the resultant performance is an original and true take on a character.

Aside from the obvious artistic reasons, students also come to Audition Doctor to gain practical knowledge on how to harness the inevitable nerves that most, if not all, actors suffer from in auditions.

Lesley Manville said in the Guardian: “Accept that you’re going to have nerves to begin with. I don’t know many actors who aren’t nervous the first time they do a performance on stage. You’re nervous about whether you can remember your lines; whether you can get through it; whether the audience are going to like it; whether the other actors are going to remember their lines, or you’ll have to bail somebody out. But after that, the nerves should get better.”

The level of preparation that each student goes through at Audition Doctor means that nerves do get harnessed and cease to negatively affect performances. With these under control, students find that they feel much freer to experiment, make bold choices and generally be unafraid to take risks. Although the outcome sometimes may not quite serve the writer’s intention or indeed your own, being vulnerable enough to make such unorthodox artistic decisions is what audition panels are looking for.

Audition Doctor sessions push students to combine imagination as well as thought, to risk and to embrace the uncertain outcomes that ensue. The sessions remain so popular because students can clearly chart their progress week by week as they take what they’ve learnt from one speech into the next. It is the students that persist in this unceasing quest for improvement at Audition Doctor that find they land the jobs they audition for.

Gaining Confidence at Audition Doctor

Gaining Confidence at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 09.43.05In Backstage, Timothy Simons (who plays Jonah Ryan in Veep) spoke about the importance of approaching an audition from a personal perspective, rather than the perceived perspective of those on the other side of the table. “You don’t want to go in trying to force yourself into some archetype that has been thought up by a director and translated by a casting director,” he said. “If you have a particular read on it, go in with your point of view, because it doesn’t make sense trying to go in with somebody else’s point of view.”

Many of Audition Doctor’s students come to work on Shakespeare speeches. Students often come with idea on how to “act” Shakespeare; performances are often more declamatory and not approached in the same way as they would a modern speech. In their initial Audition Doctor sessions, they often begin by having no clear cut vision of their character’s emotional journey. However, as the sessions progress, students find that they cease to copy the performances of other actors that they may have seen, and instead, come to develop something truly original and wholly their own.

This is what audition panels are looking for and Audition Doctor has helped countless actors reach this by eliminating all extraneous and unhelpful preconceived notions on acting Shakespeare. Students are encouraged to approach the text with the aim of creating a truthful human being as opposed to “ A Shakespeare character”.

Audition Doctor has no one size fits all approach and each student benefits from different kinds of advice and practical exercises. What they all need and receive at Audition Doctor, however, is the gift of guided preparation.

When preparing for her role in “Two Days, One Night”, Marion Cotillard worked extensively on her character’s backstory. She said: “I wrote her life before. I wrote scenes I would use later when I needed some support to be able to burst into tears out of nowhere. I needed to build a structure of stories that I could use when I needed to reach this or that emotion.”

Audition Doctor students have done similar exercises. The reason why most students sign up for at least several sessions is because many find that their abilities and subsequently, their confidence, progress significantly once they have had the time with Tilly to identify which methods of approach works best for them.

Through working with Audition Doctor, students routinely report how much their confidence improves. Last week, Eddie Redmayne said in The Telegraph: “…if you begin to believe in yourself too much then you can’t access the fragility of the characters you have to play and you are not listening enough to play them.”

At Audition Doctor, students always gain the right kind of confidence – the assurance that grows through the results of the rigorous work that is achieved in the sessions, as opposed to any kind of mistaken self-belief.

Students rate Audition Doctor so highly because they also remain open to vulnerability, astute to direction and unafraid of making unconventional artistic choices.

Artistry and Commitment at Audition Doctor

Artistry and Commitment at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 10.06.54Phillip Seymour Hoffman often spoke about the level of commitment and dedication acting required: “I think that the amount of concentration — sometimes the amount of personal exploration — it takes to do something well, can be not pleasant … like hard work is. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to do it, or that you don’t love it, or that it’s not ultimately satisfying. You know that old cliché; … nothing’s worth it unless it’s [a] hard to do kind of thing. I wear that on my sleeve sometimes when I’m working. … There’s always something about that job that’s exhausting, and that’s what’s exhausting about acting, is the level concentration over very long period of time.”

Many students, both professional actors and drama school applicants, come to Audition Doctor because sessions give them the time and space to focus on their craft. Sessions are hard work as the effort and creativity required for students to create three-dimensional characters that are unique and believable is significant.

Past and present students attest that the work in Audition Doctor sessions is rigorous, however, most commit to regular sessions. The more sessions they attend, the more students become acutely aware of when they are hitting the emotional truth of the scene and when they are merely skirting around it. Consequently, they become more astute when judging the credibility and honesty of their own performances.

Hoffman said: ”[When there’s] true acting going on, then [the audience] will give over — you know what I mean? Because they want to give over because what they’re watching is true…It’s really about your belief in the circumstances of this character and what they’re going through and that you buy that story in that character’s journey as long as what you’re doing is honest.”

Becoming adept at making audition panels believe they are the best candidate for the part is the reason why students continue to come back to Audition Doctor.

Andrew Scott said recently: “You have to be very wary of heroes having to be flawless. Human beings aren’t perfect – I hate perfect heroes. It’s boring.” Characters created in the sessions are never cliched or even a “perfect” interpretation. Audition Doctor encourages experimentation, malleability and a daringness to make bold and less obvious choices.

Furthermore, Audition Doctor also excels at making sure students plumb the emotional depths required while consistently delivering an artistic performance and not a performance that is a form of therapy.

Hoffman said of certain roles: “If you’re carrying that emotion on one level or another for a long period of time … it can be burdensome. But it’s part of the work, and you’re trying to create something artful out of it. And so, it’s not therapy. So, you’re not there to be in therapy; you’re there to take what you know and the experiences and behaviour and emotional life of yourself and others and try to make something artful out of it. But the carrying of that around and the focusing of that can be, it can be tough.”

Audition Doctor focuses students on the art, which is why the majority so frequently land both professional parts and places at drama school.

Challenging Yourself at Audition Doctor

Challenging Yourself at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-03-18 at 09.32.33In an interview in The Stage, Charles Edwards said: “It’s a very tangible thing, actually, putting together a performance. It’s twisting and rearranging and changing. One feels one is creating something whole, working on a performance.”

This is something that Audition Doctor’s students have found during the course of their sessions; frequent attendance results in the building up not just of their character, but also of their craft.

Kevin Spacey recently commented: “The craft of acting is to step into someone else’s shoes, someone else’s ideas; to look at something in a mirror and not see ourselves and not feel weird but feel free.”

This ability to be inhibited and open to play is something, like everything else, that has to be honed. Audition Doctor has helped many actors in this regard. With many parts, there is sometimes a difficulty in making them your own –  particularly if it has been seen to be definitively immortalised by another actor.

Janet McTeer spoke about making the part of the Marquise de Merteuil (a role that has been played by Glenn Close and Laura Linney) in Les Liaisons Dangereuses her own:

“There’s a process in rehearsal where you have to let go of that and ask what you can do with the part.”

Finding the essence of your unique take on a character is something that Audition Doctor has proved indispensable at doing. Much like the rehearsal process, a character emerges through trial and error.

Charles Edwards stated: “The most exciting part of rehearsals is when you start to feel what the performance might be, and that pushes you into directions you hadn’t thought about before.

Students frequently comment on how they find themselves in unexpected creative avenues and how excited they feel when their limits are surmounted. This is why even when students are not auditioning for a specific role or medium, they still attend their weekly sessions because the work they undertake at Audition Doctor is invaluable.

McTeer said: “In my heart of hearts I love theatre. It’s the joy and terror of putting a play on, the creativity of it,” she said. “It is infinitely harder than film and television and more tiring. Your performance is heightened in the way it isn’t with film.”

Students are encouraged to pick speeches with heft. As Charles Edwards said: “I like plays with sweep. I like watching something expansive, emotionally as much as narratively. I like characters that go from one extreme to another.”

Because students work on parts such as these frequently during sessions, when professional auditions for challenging roles come around, they are much better prepared.

McTeer said: “The people I respected and wanted to be [when I was young] are still the people I respect and want to be. Lindsay Duncan, Harriet Walter, Juliet Stevenson, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, who all did amazing theatre and were just incredibly good at what they did. That’s what I wanted to be. The only way to do that is to be as good as you possibly can be in as varied roles as possible.”

Audition Doctor affords actors this possibility.

Being Honest and Watchable at Audition Doctor

Being Honest and Watchable at Audition Doctor

help with acting classesIn the Guardian, actors Rory Kinnear and Anthony Sher discussed their different approaches to playing Iago.

Kinnear commented: “Nick Hytner’s first instinct was always to steer away from racism and examine that jealousy” while Sher decided from the outset: “We definitely wanted him to be racist.”

What is immediately apparent is that the depth of research and rehearsal that each actor undertook led to nuanced and rich performances that differed hugely.

Kinnear said: “With a lot of Shakespeare’s characters, something seismic has happened to them just before we meet them. Hamlet has lost his father. Angelo jilts Mariana in Measure for Measure. Iago suspects that Othello has slept with his wife. As an actor, you have to know who that character was beforehand in order to understand how they’ve changed.”

From both actors’ accounts, the analysis and quarrying of the play to understand Iago’s mental make-up appears to be extensive; there is a constant questioning and determination to drill deep into the character’s psyche.

Sher said: “Words such as “evil” and “villain”, they don’t mean much to me as an actor. They seem to hark back to a time when we knew nothing about psychology, and I’m far more interested in thinking about those people as damaged in some way that leads to their actions.”

Professional actors and drama school candidates attend Audition Doctor sessions because the environment that Tilly provides allows for a forensic exploration of character. It’s a rare situation where you are not spoon fed any “answer”, but are encouraged to organically find your own way into the character.

Lupita Nyong’o once said of her experience of working on 12 Years A Slave: “Every single role brings with it an ignorance and an insecurity, and so you have to approach it with the same curiosity and humility. I’m always nervous. Doesn’t matter how many times I do this. But I remind myself it’s because I care. Steve [McQueen] would say, ‘Fail and then fail better!’ And that environment was so liberating. It’s not about getting it right. It’s about getting it truthful.”

This is the similar ethos employed at Audition Doctor. Students who come to Tilly’s sessions often land jobs or places at drama schools not because their performances in front of audition panels are so polished and “finished”, but because there is always an honesty, rawness and daring in their acting that is unavoidably watchable.

Kinnear said: “You have to implicate the audience. They’ve got to squirm, not just over what happens [in Othello], but because they did nothing about it. They had all the knowledge – this guy was not to be trusted – and they just sat there.”

Students who have trained at Audition Doctor understand this. Sessions push them to reach these stakes and bring a grit and fearlessness to their work.

Strengthening Your Instincts at Audition Doctor

Strengthening Your Instincts at Audition Doctor

Acting Classes by Audition DoctorIn an article for Ideastap, Caroline Leslie, Head of Acting at LAMDA, advised those auditioning to “really get inside the mind of your character – think about what they hide and show of themselves, and how they think other people think about them.”

“Choose a piece and a character that fascinates you. You can really tell when someone has chosen a piece that they connect to and auditions almost always work better if the actor has chosen something they love.”

At Audition Doctor, choosing the speech for you is a lengthy yet integral part of the process. Julie Walters has said “In a role, I’m mainly looking for truth and integrity. No matter what it is, even if it’s a comic cameo, there’s still got to be a truth behind it. And I’m not just looking at my character, I’m looking at the whole thing.”

Audition Doctor encourages you to pick roles that are challenging and beyond your reach, however, that will be fully grasped and inhabited by the end of the course of Audition Doctor sessions.

Walters went onto advise: “You want to know who that person is…so I will do my own rehearsals as if I were rehearsing with a director but on my own.” While the line-learning process is often done alone, many professional actors come to Audition Doctor because they desire a more collaborative rehearsal process. Rehearsing alone can be counter-productive if there is no one to tell you which of your interpretations works better and why.

Andrew Buchan recently advised actors when learning lines to “get it in your body, don’t just sit on the edge of your bed because they won’t go in, get it in your muscles.”

Many actors and drama school applicants come to Audition Doctor because they want to get a performance into their muscles, see it up on its feet in front of a professional and to also strengthen their ability to take and act on direction.

Walters said: “I don’t like being over-directed, some people feel that they need to be seen to be directing…All you have is your instincts and they can be interfered with sometimes rather than nurtured and then you begin to doubt them.”

Audition Doctor’s popularity relies on the fact that Tilly only ever strengthens your instincts and simultaneously coaches you to harness any nerves into a truthfully sustained performance.

Audition Doctor sessions, however, are not for those who are unwilling to take risks. In the same interview as Walters, Tamsin Greig urged young actors “to be more brave about failing”.

It is in this willing to not be perfect and to dare to expose her vulnerabilities that Julie Walters has  featured in an article entitled “Julie Walters – a heroic talent” in which it says: “She disappears into her characters and gives them hearts so loud you can hear them beating.”

Audition Doctor students have found that sessions have pushed them to do the same and have made them braver and more astute actors as a result.

Discovering the New at Audition Doctor

Discovering the New at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 09.12.59Last week, Juliet Stevenson spoke of her lengthy experience of playing Winnie in Beckett’s Happy Days in the Independent. When asked about the process by which she created her own interpretation of the oft-performed character of Winnie, Stevenson said:

“I think any character you play is a strange hybrid between the role that has been written by the writer and you. You make very personal choices and you are using your own experience, your own sensibility to shape what you find in the text, so there’s Winnie on the page and a Winnie on the stage – she is going to have quite a lot of me in it, but hopefully only the bits of me that connect to who Beckett has written. The job is to play the character as written, not to pull the character towards yourself which would have been very boring. What you end up with is always some strange, hybrid creature.”

Audition Doctor has become the first port of call for professional actors and drama school students because the character that is created with Tilly is one that remains true to your strengths as well as the text. The reason why Audition Doctor students succeed at auditions is because the regularity of the sessions give you the time to make well-known characters unique to you. Finding your interpretation involves an organic and unforced process of discovery and rehearsal which Audition Doctor expertly offers.

As Stevenson contends: “I don’t think I have known any character as well as I know Winnie now. We’ve gone on and on discovering new resonances, discovering new connections between different parts of the play.”

Audition Doctor has also proven indispensable with regards to finding the new within the old. Many actors come to Audition Doctor with characters by well-established playwrights; characters that have been performed ceaselessly since their creation. Audition Doctor forces actors to do away with the cumbersome historical baggage that comes with say a Shakespeare role. Attending Audition Doctor rids actors of entrenched preconceptions of character in favour of the creation of a new and believable human being.

Aside from professionals, a sizeable number of Audition Doctor students are drama school applicants. For those who come to Audition Doctor on the fence with regards to professional training, Audition Doctor always encourages students to do so. There aren’t many places like Audition Doctor where you can experiment and fail in private. Drama school gives you that opportunity and encouragement to make mistakes.

On the BAFTA website, Chloe Pirrie was asked whether she feared her vocational training at Guildhall rendered the possibility of her originality being forcibly trained out of her. She responded:

“There was such emphasis on who you were [at Guildhall]. You won’t suddenly not be that person. They’re not going to break you down and mould you in the image of one of their alumni…It can all be kind of mysticised….You wouldn’t believe some of the stuff we had to do…but all those things had a point, they weren’t pretentious.

She also spoke practically about getting agents at the end of drama school showcase. “You’re seen by some of the best people in the industry and that is the amazing thing of going to one of the top places, you get exposure in a way that is quite unique. I thought if I don’t go to drama school, I won’t get access to auditions, I won’t get in the room.”

Being practical and proactive within the industry is a must. Attending both Audition Doctor and drama school are ways that will ensure you amply increase your chances of not only getting in the room, but impressing the people who are in there.


Challenge and Risk at Audition Doctor

Challenge and Risk at Audition Doctor

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 23.18.31In the Telegraph this week, Judi Dench questioned the at times bleak nature of the acting industry towards its newest recruits: ”There are no reps anywhere any more. There’s very little work, young actors have to get something and hope that it’s a success. They go to an audition and now nobody ever writes afterwards to say, ‘It was a terrific meeting, I’m so sorry it hasn’t worked out this time.’ There’s a complete silence. What is your encouragement as a young actor? Where do you go to learn? Where do you get to make the mistakes?”

Luckily for both professional actors and drama school applicants, Audition Doctor has proven to be that place. Audition Doctor is where actors are encouraged to take big risks, fail and subsequently become better.

Lyn Gardner wrote recently about how theatre should be a risky business and how venues should not be afraid of making choices that could alienate their established audiences. Playing it safe, in both programming and performance, betrays a lack of creativity. As Gardner states: “In fact, there is no such thing as “an audience”; only a collection of individuals sitting in a shared space.”

Audition Doctor sessions are sought after because Tilly discourages students from being risk-averse. The choices that students end up making are often daring and different. Drama schools are looking for those who are fearless in defying convention in favour of the unexpected. As Gardner states: “An audience that is up for being challenged and surprised, when it comes down to it, probably won’t like everything it sees.”

Many speeches that students rehearse at Audition Doctor – particularly for drama school – are well-known. Often they are part of a literary canon and have been performed by stalwart actors. Consequently, many people find it difficult to break away from how they preconceive the character to be, whether it be the thoughts behind the lines or even how the line sounds. On the BAFTA Acting Guru site, Idris Elba gave his advice to young actors starting out which is also encouraged at Audition Doctor: “It’s important to have an open mind, you are the vessel and on top of which and added onto are these personalities that you have to portray. [Have] a blank sheet and throw away any ideas and build from the beginning.”

Similarly, in the Guardian, Lenny Henry spoke of his process to approaching Shakespeare, which closely resembles the way text is approached at Audition Doctor: “Think of long speeches as a series of connected thoughts, not one big clump of dialogue. Each thought, each sentence, is a separate piece of your armoury. Think through each sentence: about how you glue it together; what it means; how you feel when you say each thing. You’ll find it comes together like a kind of delicious soup.”

Audition Doctor is about building up an arsenal of authentic emotional responses through risk and failure. Consequently, Tilly’s students get parts and places at drama schools because their performances challenge not only themselves, but also whomever is watching.