CRW_4932Drama schools have long been been accused by critics of being middle-class enclaves. This is perhaps understandable with actors such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, who yesterday won the Evening Standard’s Best Actor award, and Damian Lewis recently dominating the Culture section of the papers. Actors such as Judi Dench and Julie Walters, themselves drama school graduates, have also been voicing concerns over how tuition fees at conservatoires are preventing those with talent from entering the industry.

It is therefore reassuring to know that The Stage has published findings that show that 80% of students at drama schools are state-educated. Furthermore, despite the fact that drama school and indeed all higher education is expensive, drama schools such as LAMDA have “strong scholarship and bursaries programmes”.

Despite the criticism levelled at drama schools, however, they are just as oversubscribed as ever because students know the value of investing in practical conservatoire training.

Simon Russell Beale stated in the Guardian: “The actor’s primary responsibility is to make the text understandable at first hearing. That’s quite a big thing, and quite difficult, especially if it’s a fairly complicated text. Know the rules about verse-speaking. After that, I don’t care whether you break those rules – just make me understand what you’re saying, the first time you say it.”

The reason why drama schools, like Audition Doctor, are popular is because they are one of the few places where you are given sufficient time and guidance to push yourself emotionally and intellectually. A sizeable number of Audition Doctor’s students are professional actors who have had professional training. In spite of this, they understand that in order to achieve longevity in the profession, their training requires upkeep and continual progression.

Simon Callow spoke of the crucial process that students go through at drama school, which is not at all dissimilar to a regular student at Audition Doctor: “The important thing about training is that it buys you space – three years, ideally – in which to make an absolute and total berk of yourself, in front of your fellow actors, who are going through the same thing. It’s a controlled environment in which you can slowly unpack your own neuroses, your inhibitions, your resistances. And if it’s a well-devised course, you can slowly – having, as it were, disassembled yourself – reach back towards the light.”

Training, whether you do it at drama school or at Audition Doctor, will cost you – both financially and emotionally. However, actors who are lucky enough to have experienced these unique and demanding environments usually have the knowledge of what is required to take the audience by the hand and lead them into another world. This is why actors who come to Audition Doctor know that their success lies not only in the solidity of their training, but also in the work they do with Tilly.