Making Shakespeare Accessible at Audition Doctor

Making Shakespeare Accessible at Audition Doctor

CRW_5068Emma Rice, new artistic director of the Globe, spoke in the Telegraph about her mission of getting rid of the idea that Shakespeare was something audiences felt that they had to endure as opposed to enjoy.

“There’s a lot of theatre, some of it Shakespeare some not, which feels like medicine. You feel like if you can get through it, you’re a better person. I have no interest in that; I can’t bear to be in a theatre that feels like medicine. I think it should be a celebration and it should be joyful and at the end you should get it.”

Accessibility is a word that she uses frequently throughout the interview in the Telegraph.

“I think I make very accessible work,” she says. “That doesn’t mean it’s not sophisticated or meaningful or intelligent, but it’s accessible.”

With regards to all her previous work, she says: “I’m always making sure the audience knows what’s happening at any given time so they’re free to feel or to respond in a personal way. My guess is that there’s an excitement that I might be able to do that with Shakespeare – open it up a bit.”

The general consensus with her appointment is that Rice is expected “to strip away generations of bafflement and bring Shakespeare really, truly, to the masses.”

Audition Doctor’s demand is also down to this commitment to making Shakespeare feel reachable, true and unforced. This begins with unpicking the text itself. Although the language can sometimes appear difficult, over the course of the sessions students often find that it no longer feels restrictive and burdensome. Instead, it conversely becomes a great help in conveying the emotion and intention of the character.

Audition Doctor is also a space where students ask questions and where they are immediately addressed.

It’s a relief to know that Rice stated:  “I think I can be really rigorous in saying I don’t understand it, and I’m not ashamed to say that,” she says. “I say it all the time. I think there’s a lot of Emperor’s New Clothes in theatre: nobody wants to be the one who doesn’t understand it so nobody says they don’t. I feel that then becomes a conspiracy.”

Aside from unpacking the text, Audition Doctor’s popularity also lies in the gradual and organic method with which each student is guided to form a unique and emotionally genuine character.

Tom Hiddleston said “I suppose I’m fascinated by the private vulnerability and the exterior of people,” he says. “I think that’s an essential truth. I sort of quite like trying to find what makes people tick behind the construction of their identity.”

This is what Audition Doctor sessions are known for. Constructing an identity that is real as well as complex takes time, which is why most students attend regular weekly sessions and continue to seek Tilly’s guidance even after they land the job.

Artistic Freedom and Preparation at Audition Doctor

Artistic Freedom and Preparation at Audition Doctor

Acting Classes by Audition DoctorIn 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.

Using the Time Before Auditions

Ty Burrell, who plays Phil in the monumentally successful series Modern Family, said this week: “The real job of an actor is auditioning, not acting. That’s really the day-to-day life. You get the call at 2pm and they want you there by 4.30pm…”

Thankfully, auditions for drama school are not as hurried. The weeks or sometimes months that you are afforded in advance to prepare are priceless and it’s important to use the time discerningly.

When asked what he did to prepare for the role of Coriolanus, Tom Hiddleston said: “The first thing I did was to learn the play inside and out. Words are the key to every role, and for Coriolanus they guide the character’s voice, manner, and even his heartbeat. As I studied the play and became more immersed in it, so many questions arose. Why is he so angry? Why does he hate the people so much?”

Audition Doctor sessions are as much about asking questions as answering them. It’s only through combing the text and thorough inquiry that decisions that are rooted in truth can be made with your character.

As Amy Morgan said in Ideastap: “My advice is just always play the truth of what you’re doing…I tend to look at the text and pick out all the factual detail. For anything subjective that you think might be hinted at, it’s good to talk to the other actors and work that stuff out between you…Usually, if I’m not getting something or it doesn’t feel right it’s because I’m trying too hard – I’m trying to make something up that’s not there.”

This is why drama school applicants find Audition Doctor so useful – auditioning for drama school is largely a solitary process. Aside from the group workshops and warm-ups, it’s you preparing monologues alone. Audition Doctor lessons give you the opportunity to have a creative discussion and obtain professional feedback. Many drama schools don’t offer feedback unless you get to a certain stage of recalls. If you aren’t getting to those stages, it goes without saying that feedback would be incredibly useful.

Whatever choices you have made with your speech, auditions require you to reach necessary emotional states. Hiddleston mentioned: “In the end the greatest struggle with this role was to inhabit the essence of his personality. To ensure I can channel the power of his fury every day has been challenging. He is an immensely angry man – there are a couple of lines that illustrate that in the play, one of those is: “there is no more mercy in him than there is milk in a male tiger.” Every night I am professionally required to roar.”

The more you attend Audition Doctor sessions, the easier it becomes to access the emotion and your subsequent performances become less stilted. The confidence that comes from knowing that you can get to that place also gives you the freedom to push things further and make the kind of bolder decisions that panels are looking for.

When asked what she would tell her younger self, Amy Morgan said: “Not to worry so much. When I left drama school I was so worried about being the right actor all the time. You want to be perfect for every part and be the best person in the room at meetings. Now, when I go into meetings and I’m myself, that’s when I tend to get the job.”

Audition Doctor lessons ensure that the speeches you pick are perfect for you. Playing the truth and accessing the vulnerability required for your speech is something that Audition Doctor concentrates on which generally means you don’t feel like you have to be “perfect”. Perfect is not what drama schools are looking for anyway. They’re ultimately looking for someone who can be honest in their performance which is what Audition Doctor lessons are all about.

Drama School – Not Just for Rich Kids

This year has seen the success of the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Harry Haddon-Paton and Harry Lloyd -all unquestionably talented and all from the same demographic – privately educated and middle-class. One could argue that the theatrical profession was ever thus, with many actors requiring financial support from drama school training to well after the “break-in years”. Even though many drama schools now offer foundation courses, two-year courses and one year MAs, the tuition fees are still punishingly high. Wealthy parents almost seem like a prerequisite to becoming a professional actor. However, there has been a movement within the industry to encourage its practitioners to come from all sectors of society.

David Morrissey and Julie Walters recently raised concerns that sky-high drama school fees and the disappearance of grants were consequently increasing the impossibility of working-class actors to train at drama school. Even the head of the Central School of Speech and Drama acknowledged that there was a risk of drama schools becoming a “repository for the privileged.” As a result, the eminent actress Clare Higgins, has announced plans to open her own drama school that will train actors for free.

“We cannot go on like this any longer where only rich people can afford to train in the arts, so we have to get out here and make it change now. I’m not going to get political about it, but all I am going to say is that there is a dearth of training for people who don’t have independent wealth or rich parents. We are aiming to stop that in its tracks.”

It is inevitable that the social background of drama school graduates will directly affect the type of plays that get put on. Lynn Gardner opined that “the Royal Court writing of the 60s would not have thrived without the influx of exciting actors from less privileged backgrounds coming out of drama schools.”

The view that theatre aims to reflect the human condition and effectively “hold a mirror up to nature” was disproved by one columnist in the Stage who questioned: “How can theatre reliably examine say, Cameron’s cabinet when there are more old-school ties among its members than on his front bench?”

Ultimately, professional training should not be an elitist privilege with opportunities to pursue a career in the arts open only to those with ample means. Yet drama schools are not the only places where training can be offered. Apart from private lessons, Audition Doctor offers group sessions from Meetup to Introduction to Acting and Acting- An In-Depth Approach where fees are reasonable and you don’t have to have a rich parent to receive peerless teaching.