When Ideastap asked David Harewood whether drama school was worth the time and expense, he responded: “I’m really glad I did because it gave me that classical training, and you can’t get that anywhere else in the world. We have a deep theatrical tradition here as old as any other on the planet, and you get trained in all these different styles. So when you do get auditions, you feel like you can do anything.
I can do a bit of telly, a bit of radio but I can also belt out a bit of Shakespeare, and you’d find that very difficult if you hadn’t gone to drama school. Some people may not want those skills. I’m coming across a lot of young actors who have gone through other forms of training and are fantastic, and maybe some of these guys don’t dream of getting up on stage and doing King Lear – maybe they’re not interested in that. But it’s also the experience of studying the craft – it’s a skill and the more you study it, the better you get.”
Perhaps it isn’t that the actors Harewood is talking about aren’t interested in theatre, but because they are aware of the recent changes that their profession has faced. Their desire to find success in TV or film is based on a realistic mindset that fewer subsidies mean fewer risks. It’s a well known fact that conservative tastes reign during times of financial trouble.
Even Trevor Nunn acknowledged: “It’s a changing world as drama students leave their drama schools thinking ‘I have to get into television and I have to get into film,’ because there are fewer and fewer opportunities in theatre.”
However, this has frequently proven not to be the case. More than ever, new theatre companies such as DryWrite, Clean Break and Theatre 503, to name a few, are staging new and radical plays. It also appears that students from drama schools are taking the situation into their own hands by forming their own companies. Invertigo Theatre Company is one such venture which was set up by four Guildhall graduates who focus on “the lesser known, from new writing to European plays.”
One of the reasons why drama school graduates are still pursuing careers in theatre is the liberating aspect of the medium over film.
As Kirsten Scott Thomas mentioned: “The trouble with acting in films, she goes on, is that “you’re constantly being told what to do. ‘Move your head that way. Can you cry a bit more? Can you do this, can you do that? Oh, that was lovely, that was amazing, that was beautiful.’ And sometimes you think, that wasn’t amazing and wonderful and beautiful, it was just a look. But you’ve got this person saying it was. And then it’s taken away from you, and it’s all mixed up and made into something else. Basically, when you are acting in a film, you’re giving the director the raw material to make the film. But when you’re acting on stage, that’s it. And that’s when you discover that you can really do it. It’s this word ‘trust’ that keeps coming to me. It’s not a question of whether one person is conning you into thinking you can do it, saying, ‘Oh, it was beautiful.’ On stage, if it works, it works.”
One of the reasons why actors come to Audition Doctor lies in what Jeremy Irvine said recently in an interview: “What’s worth remembering is, when you finally do get cast in a film, there’s no rehearsal time and you’re not supervised. You get a script and you’re told it’s shooting in two months and you have to do all that work yourself. There’s no one holding your hand. There’s no director asking, “Have you tried this?” That happens on set on the day, by which point it’s too late if you haven’t done the preparation.”
Audition Doctor sessions are popular because they are pockets of time where the focus is on preparation. The intensive and qualitative nature of the work that you do in the lessons often means that students choose to come to Audition Doctor over an extended period of time. Consequently, even if you are coming to Audition Doctor for preparation for a film or TV role, you are afforded the luxury of a more prolonged sort of rehearsal period that theatre is known for.