For all drama school candidates currently in the throes of auditions, it might be marginally reassuring to note that Anne Marie Duff once said that “The hardest thing of all is getting into drama school. You’ll never have that level of competition ever again. I mean thousands of people apply for 30 places; you never have that when you audition for a job.”
In many auditions, applicants are sometimes surprised that they are asked to perform their monologues in front of their fellow candidates. Although one hopes that candidates are aware that getting into character in front of an audience is the point of it all, it can be daunting to unexpectedly have to get into character in front of 20 other people.
Anne Marie Duff explains that it’s because “you’re frightened of making a fool of yourself. But you just have to find the truth in it. Instead of just putting on a fuzzy nose and going “ta daaa!” Many people mistakenly think that the “ta daa” element is a precondition to being remembered by the panel. It is – but for all the wrong reasons.
Her advice, whether you are auditioning for drama school or for a feature film, is to remember that “you’re having a conversation with an audience and the audience is either out there, a thousand people, or here, down a lens. It’s the same creative process.”
The initial stages of auditions are focused on the individual and it is usually only when you get further that you are required to participate in group workshops.
When asked about drama school, Michelle Dockery commented that the thing she learnt above all was “to be gracious. And by that I mean to work well with others and to be generous. There is nothing worse than working with an actor who thinks it’s all about them: there’s more than one person creating whatever you’re working on.” Although drama schools want to see you, it’s also as much about how you respond to fellow actors.
When asked about her experience auditioning for drama school, Sally Hawkins said: “I didn’t get in to RADA first time but I knew that was where I wanted to go. I was very single-minded. The only other option was art school and I didn’t have much confidence in that.”
“I did Juliet. I also did Road by Jim Cartwright – talking about “gargantuan men”. It was a very sexual, big Northern woman I was playing. It was totally against type but the writing’s so fantastic that I loved saying it. I also did a very inappropriate Shakespeare: Margaret from Richard III, an old wench. I came with a prop – this was the year I didn’t get in – I had a stick. I’m always drawn to people who are a challenge: it’s interesting to unlock who they are, but you have to be careful of not picking Queen Margaret! Probably better to pick someone closer to your age and your own experience.”
Aside from guidance on audition speeches, Audition Doctor also offers what Anne Marie Duff mentioned – a conversation. It’s important to discuss your choices and it’s helpful to know your strengths and weaknesses before you step into the audition room. In the audition, the panel ask questions that range from your personal ambitions to what theatre you have seen recently. It’s useful to have articulated your thoughts at Audition Doctor prior to the audition. Understandably, when confronted with three staring faces, drawing a blank is common.
Furthermore, in Audition Doctor sessions, actors are confronted with their unconscious habits which are duly discussed and addressed. Nothing elicits a more confident audition than knowing you have prepared in advance with Audition Doctor. This is why booking ahead with Tilly is crucial as places are filled especially quickly during the final recall stages in May.