Thursday, 12 November 2009

Something Wicked This Way Comes

This week I saw Wicked for the third time - the last time I saw it was for my birthday last year and after seeing an advert at the cinema when I saw UP (amazing film by the way, go see it. Pixar are genius') I really wanted to go see it again. Last week at school we had a musical theatre lesson with a teacher we hadn't had before, George Ure, who's currently in the ensemble understudying Boq in Wicked, London. There were a fair few fans in the class and we ended up chatting about the show and he told us he was going on as Boq on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. We had a trip to Arts Ed to see their third year show, 'My Favorite Year' on Tuesday and managed to get tickets for the evening performance of Wicked.

The trip to Arts Ed was definitely inspiring but not particularly groundbreaking. We were taken to a series of lessons that covered all three disciplines and by the end of the classes I was desperate to join in. However, I didn't really learn anything knew, although the standard of the performers there was extremely high, which seemed a shock to some people. The show itself really wasn't my cup of tea, although the performances were all very, very good.

Then we made our way to Victoria and after a little mayhem involving tickets, watched a fantastic performance. Alexia Khadime was on as Elphaba and was brilliant as always - however, I did prefer her performance the last time I saw her, particularly in Defying Gravity, which usually gives that goose bump moment. However, this could due to my dwindling like of the show as a whole. However George, as Boq, was brilliant and another of my teachers, Adam Garcia (ensemble) was too - most of us could not take our eyes of them during most of the show!

During the interval we got a phone call from George - he was able to take us backstage after the show! This led to quite a lot of excitement by us and intrigue by surrounding audience members. After the performance we headed to the stage door and met Adam and George who took us backstage, much to the jealous of the fans gathered at SD - some of them wondered whether they could have followed us in!

Seeing the working side of the theatre was incredible - the props and costumes were amazing detailed and it was really interesting just to see behind the scenes. The best part, for me at least, was going in front of the Oz Map curtain and standing on the stage before of the 2,000+ seat theatre. It really inspired me and was daunting but amazing. It really brought home the reality of performing in front of so many people, night after night and gave me even more determination.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Finger Lickin' Good!

I've been at PPA about five weeks now and am loving it. Its hard work obviously and getting up at 6am is far from my glamorous but on the whole my all-acting, all-singing, all-dancing life is definitely living up to expectations. I can already see myself improving and learning so much, especially in dance, where previously I had no training whatsoever. I can now tell my fifth position from my plie, am beginning to master phonetics and have a whole bunch of new songs to sing. We've begun applications for drama schools which is quite scary already but I feel so much more prepared already. We have our GSA, Arts Ed and Mountview auditions privately through the course, which is nice, but I've begun my applications elsewhere too. I'm going to apply to RADA, LAMDA, Central, LIPA, East15, Rose Bruford, Guildhall, ALRA, Royal Scottish and Royal Welsh.

I got a call from my agent on Thursday, who had an audition for a KFC commercial the next day, which I went to, and yesterday heard I had a recall today! My Shakespeare teacher, Gemma, had told us stories of commercial auditions being notoriously short and not particularly taxing to an actor because they are mainly looking for a look and I definitely experienced that today. I left college at half two, traveled for almost two hours to get to the casting ten minutes early and then waiting for half an hour before going into the room, meeting the director and producer, and doing three takes of walking across a room pretending to eat KFC, wave to someone off camera, and then keep walking. Obviously its good experience and whatnot but I came out of it thinking "Was that it?!" However, the job is ridiculously good money and I've got everything crossed!

Lastly and completley non-theatrey but I am absolutely in love with Lady GaGa's new song 'Bad Romance'. I've always had a music-crush on the Lady but I think this is possibly her finest single and have it on repeat constantly! Hopefully a few of us from college will be going to her 'Monster Ball' when it tours England in February! Check out the song below:

Sunday, 20 September 2009

No News is Good News?

I've really neglected my blog over the summer but that could be due to distinct lack in drama-related activities, except the megafest that was NYT. Since returning from the course, I've really not done much performing, theatre-going or anything of that kind. Many if not most of my friends are off to university this week and next, and its been an emotional few days, with saying goodbyes followed by 'See you at Christmas!' which just seems ridiculously far away. However, with goodbyes comes hellos, and I've seen some NYT people recently, and next weekend will be venturing to Oxford for one's birthday, which will be fantastic. I can't wait to see everyone.

Next Monday, however, the relaxing and partying will pretty much stop as I start my course at PPA. I'm really excited, albeit nervous, because it will be a whole new place, whole new people, and when it comes to dance, a whole new discipline. Although its only a year, that's still a long time and if something isn't right... I dread to think. I'm going to go with an open, positive mind though, and hope I enjoy it as much as I've enjoyed previous experiences. I'm sure to learn a lot too, although I'm going to be exhausted!

I've also started rehearsals for a pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, which will be performed at the Epsom Playhouse in January - buy tickets! Its a new company for me, one where adults play the principle roles and younger members are in the chorus, so thats also a new and good thing. Being in the chorus, there's a lot more dancing and singing (which will help me!) and there's a proper choreographer and musical director (who works at Laine) - all good things! Met some nice people there too, already.

I'm hopefully going to see an amateur production of the Last Five Years by Jason Robert Brown this week. I've never seen the show but I love the music and really wish I had seen the Notes from New York production with Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer. So I'm hoping this will be a good production and won't kill my love for the show!

Lastly, audition season is nearly upon us. I've begun to look at monologues, though haven't got serious yet, mainly looking at a few Shakespeare plays and one modern play in particular, Punk Rock, which I saw a few weeks ago. I'm not sure to what extent we'll work on audition prep at PPA so I'm not getting too concerned, though I have begun to rethink some of my course applications, having heard from a LIPA newbie that first year boys have to shave all their hair off...

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

We Are the Now Generation

Back again for the mega NYT review. This post will probably be fairly long.

NYT was a truly fantastic experience and definitely confirmed (if it needed confirming!) that drama and theatre is what I want to go into. The course itself was inspiring and educating, developing my skills and introducing totally new ways of working. I also met some of the most amazing people I've ever met and really made some lifelong friends.

The first week of the course was spent on developing our skills, because the next week we would develop a piece of theatre to be performed in the outside amphitheater at Laban. This meant daily yoga in order to both keep us fit and also give us an awareness of our bodies. This mainly consisted of the '5 Tibetans', a series of exercises that our director, Neil, performed with ease but which we found very difficult. We also performed Sun Salutations which gradually increased in number throughout the course. Both of these exercises became the bane of our lives but, ironically, many of us have carried on post-course both in tribute to Neil and in the realisation they actually did us good!

We also had workshops on movement with various outside instructors, to create interesting ways of moving and 'beautiful' theatre. This mainly meant working as an ensemble and moving in time as one giant machine. Similarly we worked on voice in order to make sure that we would be heard outside. We sang songs, improvised, learnt dance lifts, did trust exercises and played games

The second week consisted of developing two minutes of material that would be inspired by the work and play we had done the week before. There were 10 courses happening during the two weeks, and once each had come up with two minutes of material, the whole course would be incorporated to produce a twenty minute piece. Our piece, which eventually was known as the 'Haka Hug' began with a clump of people kneeling and singing a Kenyan funeral song. At the end of the song, one of our group was raised by the others so that she appeared to be flying and blew a kiss to another, who stumbled backwards. He then ran forwards to towards the group, lifting himself onto the shoulders of two, who would fall sideways. The entire group would then fall to the floor in a ripple effect. This was then proceeded by the standing picking up those lying and hugging them to a piece of music called 'Hope There's Someone' by Anthony and the Johnsons.

The other groups pieces were all very different but incredible and the final piece was amazing. We performed it twice on Saturday afternoon to a group of NYT higher ups and various other people. After the final performance, I felt conflicting emotions: we had just performed an amazing piece of theatre and were now officially members of the National Youth Theatre, but this also meant our course was over.

This is a video of part of the performance taken by one of the directors, Paul Clayton:

The best part of the course, though, was the people I met. Everyone on our course was extremely friendly and interesting and there was a core of about 10 of us who spent the majority of our time together. Its really strange how close you can get to people within only two weeks but when you spend every minute with people and you're going through something so intense, you really feel like you've known them for years. Most of us hadn't lived alone before and the added pressures of cooking, cleaning and money management was another thing that brought us all together. The last few days were very sad and many a tear was shed on the final Sunday when each of us said our goodbyes and parted ways. We all tried to remember that we'd all see each other again and that it wasn't the end but the beginning. Still, it was a great group of people and, through Facebook and texting, we all know how much we miss each other. A few of the group are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and others, including myself, are planning a roadtrip up there to see everyone and celebrate one girl's 18th birthday. I really can't wait to see them again.

A made a few videos with photos and songs that were used in the final performance:


I really haven't covered half of what we did or half of how amazing it was, but if I did I'd be here for hours. I'm sure I'll come back to it someday, but now let me just say that NYT was fantastic, I'll never forget it, and if anyone's thinking about auditioning, DO IT!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

National Yoof Theatre

I'll update with more information later when I'm less exhausted and depressed but I got back from NYT today and it was am-AH-zing. The course itself was interesting and I learnt so much - I really feel like I improved as a performer. It was very emsemble-based with lots of movement and visual elements. The best part of the course, though, was the people that I met. At the beginning of the two weeks, we were told that people make friends for life at NYT; we brushed this off as usual patter. However, by the end of the two weeks I'd met some amazing people who I will definitely be seeing again.

Things to look forward to in the long report - Olympic bids, Shakespearean actors, Peep Show actors, drama queens and invisible theatre.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Decisions, Decisions...

I really have't written in a while, which is bad because I've had quite a lot of exciting news! Its all been very last minute but I've recently auditioned for two foundation courses in Musical theatre and got onto both - they're very different courses and now I have to make a decision, but I can't!

The first course is at an institution called Performance Preparation Academy, or PPA. Its very new and hasn't really got a reputation yet and there's no way to tell how good their teaching is or what their results are. They're currently based in the Ebbisham Centre in Epsom, but next year are moving to a brand new facility at Guildford School of Acting. The move makes me a little more confident - I doubt GSA want their name tarred with the same brush if it turns out not to be what they say they are. The course is full time, so in respect to my singing and dancing I'll learn a lot, including ballet which I think will be really important. At GSA the dance classes will be streamed with the degree level students, which I think will be really interesting and beneficial.

However, the course is very expensive and I'd only be able to work part time. The school doesn't have much of a reputation yet, and this is important in the industry. However, they seem very friendly and caring, and have a good rapport with the students. Similarly, they seem to really want me, which is nice, and I think will work me hard. The qualifications are awarded by Trinity Guildhall and LAMDA.

The other course is at Arts Educational, which is a prestigious drama school in London. Its three evenings a week from 7.30 till 9.30, which worries me in the amount I will learn. If it was a straight acting course, I would chose it, as I believe I have enough experience in acting that I would just need to refine my skills and work on audition technique. However, I have limited training in both dance and singing and I don't know if six hours a week would be enough. However, it does carry a seal of quality in the teaching and would be a great name to have on my CV. However, I worry that the course tutors may put their degree students first and I'm unsure of the amount of attention and pastoral care that I will receive. The course is less expensive than PPA but in terms of the money to hours ratio, it is more expensive.

So, those are my two options - please give me your opinions, I'm really stuck!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

All's Well That Ends Well

With the onset of revision, everything dramatic seems to have died in my life. Which is very sad for all. Sweeney went very well, the first night there were a few hiccoups but that's all to be expected. Second and third went brilliantly, very glad the family were there that night. On the Friday there was a press reviewer there - all positive things, four stars, very nice. About my performance in particular: "Tom Bovington was an earnest Anthony, who sang Johanna, one of the show's most difficult pieces, with fervour. Sophie McKinnon looked totally right as the object of his affection and the two showed their eagerness to escape together in Kiss Me." Very nice Mr Critic, thank you. This was slightly dampened by a bitchy text from the director to the stage manager, but I'll let that slide. Needless to say, I won't be putting my money anywhere near him again.

The past week has been devoted to two ventures: revision and Spring Awakening. As closing night rapidly approached, I felt driven to see the show more and more. On Monday I went to see it with a friend who hadn't seen it before, K. We were both very kindly bought our tickets by someone I'd met through one of the Facebook groups (I know, online safety and all that jazz but it all was fine) and the show was brilliant as usual. K decided she wanted to see it AGAIN before it closed (typical!) and V wanted to see it for the ninth time, so we got up RIDICULOUSLY early Thursday morning to queue for day tickets. Unfortunately we could only get two for the front row and three others for the dress circle, so K and I managed to nab the day ones. Sitting in the front row was magical, managed to catch eye contact with cast members several times, particularly with Aneurin during 'Totally Fucked' which set K's heartbeat a flutter. Was very sad too - you could tell the cast felt it was all coming to an end, with a few tears and handholding towards the finale.

Then Saturday came, the final night. S and I went up earlyish to hang about London which was very nice in the glorious weather. Whilst in Starbucks, V rang to say she had managed to get me a stage seat! Which I was very happy about. We went to the stage door after the matinee because, as we rightly predicted, the evening would be manic. The mat was also rather crazy but, having got there early, we had prime positions. Because of said craziness, barriers had been erected outside the stage door, with the cast slowly moving down a fan-free corridor to sign things and take photos.

We went to get food, came back and the 'protest' had started. A French man, whose name i later learned was Bastien, had come over from Paris and brought his guitar. He was persuaded by another fan to begin playing songs from the show and before long, the whole crowd had joined in. Slowly, cast members poked their heads out of their dressing rooms to see what the commotion was about and they joined in too! Hearing Connie Walker do the 'Herr Gabor!' in Totally was great. Lots of youtube videos here:

The actual performance was amazing. I've already written about it elsewhere and its very long and thus would take up a lot of space, but the crowd was electric, cheering as soon as the swing came in. Every song had a huge applause and you could just tell the cast were enjoying themselves. There were lots of little goofs - Jamie Blackley singing the American, "Looks so nasty in those khakis" which elicited a huge audience response, various smiles, and the boys hanging off the bars and touching audience members during 'Touch Me'.

I was fine throughout the whole of act 1 and only began to get a little teary during Moritz's monologue before he dies. Left Behind began and the tears started, and then I looked two seats left and saw Jamie B in floods of tears - this set me off no doubt, V had to grab my hand and I'm sure Richard Cordery who plays the Adult Men saw me. Jamie was still crying at the beginning of Totally and I felt so bad for him - I just wanted to give him a hug!

The stage door after was INSANE. A friend who was in a bar around the corner text me: "Just heard an explosion of sound, SA?" We later discovered the cast were all having a drink and some having haircuts - as the crowd became impatient the yells of "We want *insertcastmemberhere*" began and the cast member (sometimes in various states of undress) would poke their heads out of the windows. The sight of Aneurin Barnard and Iwan Rheon topless evoked deafening screams from many of the crowd. There was more singing, including a rendition of Totally Fucked where Edd Judge opened his window and called it "They kill for fun!" It was really great.

Eventually the cast came out, and after a long wait we got photos with Charlotte, Sian, Lucy, Edd and Iwan. Completely missed Ni which was sad and Jamie was swamped by people - he eventually said he had to go. However, this was completely made up for by a message popping up on my Facebook wall the next day from him, thanking me for my support and saying how much he appreciated it. I really appreciated his message too, and its made some friends very jealous, which is nice.

Now I'm back to a life of mediocrity - exams, exams, exams. I've sent off my application for the Arts Ed foundation course, which will hopefully give some meaning to my life next year. If not, who knows what I'll be doing!?

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Sun Sets for Spring

This is really sad news: the London production of Spring Awakening, which was set for a run into October, is closing on 30th May 2009, after only a few weeks in its West End home. This show was beautiful, poignant, energetic; it literally took you from one emotion to another, between songs of sorrow like 'Left Behind' and 'Those You've Known' to upmost glee in 'Totally Fucked' and 'My Junk'. Its easy to blame other shows for Spring's demise: television casting, well known revivals, even the recession. But its simple - not enough people were going to see this amazing show. Its demographic was already fairly small compared to the big hitters of the West End and most people in that group hadn't heard of it. The last time I went, the stalls were almost full but the dress circle was less than half filled and the royal circle, empty. Unfortunately in the current economic climate, a show that is not making enough money, however acclaimed it is critically, just cannot survive. This show brought new people to theatre and showed what a musical can really be. I also desperately wanted to be in it.

I'm luckily going on Friday and I'm going to try and get day tickets for the final performance - I'd really like to show my appreciation for the immensely talented cast and a show that has really touched me. Hopefully I'll be able to.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Audition time!

Short post, just to say I have my first casting! Its on Thursday in London and its for an HBO television series based on the book series 'A Song of Ice and Fire'. The character I'm up for is called Robb Stark, and he should appear in seasons 1-3; yes, they're already considering multiple seasons. I'm a tad excited even though I know I'm not going to get it but the experience is going to be fascinating!

I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Audiences Behaving Badly

I've been reading a fair few threads on and got inspired by this article.

People within the thread basically talk about their pet peeves with theatre audiences, be it mobile phones ringing, sweet packets rattling or conversations held mid-performance. I have to admit, I've been fairly lucky whenever I've been watching anything. I've had the odd phone go off but nothing terribly drastic - someone in the thread witnessed a drunk hurling abuse at the actors on stage. Compared to that, I think I've had it easy and really shouldn't judge others.

But then, isn't any interruption that breaks the suspension of disbelief worthy of our condemnation? We've all paid good (and in some cases, lots of) money to come and watch the show or play, and we don't need some idiot who can't part from their Blackberry for two hours ruining our evening out. Last night I went to watch a friend's cousin in 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' at the Wimbledon theatre; the show was good, but about a quarter of the way through, the spell was broken by the electronic beeping from someone who couldn't even put their phone on silent, let alone turn it off. Why? Some on Whatsonstage cite new audiences to theatre being uneducated in the etiquette of theatre. Others claim they're just rude. Surely anyone can last two hours without receiving a text message with a joke to make them LOL? And if they cannot, they should (as I am guilty of) set their mobile to silent.

Something else that seems to set blood boiling over on the forum is what the posters have termed an 'Overlaugher', namely, someone who laughs too frequently and too loudly at things that really aren't very funny. Now, this one I have got experience of and it did get my back up. I probably speak about Spring Awakening too much over here, but it is my favourite new musical so I'm going to excuse myself. Anyway, those who have seen it will know that a crucial scene involves one of the characters asking another to whip her because she, "has never felt anything." After some persuasion, he does beat her but then explodes in rage and proceeds to punch her in the stomach and throw her to the ground. As you can imagine, it is a very tense scene and the first time I watched it I hadn't realised that my stomach was clenched until the scene was over and I had to relax. However, both times I have seen the piece someone in the audience seems to find this scene funny. How, I cannot imagine but its not only inappropriate but disrespectful.

When it comes to food in the theatre, I'm torn. I usually eat before going to see a play and I can easily last a few hours without a snack. However, I can understand that other people may want to eat and therefore bring something along with them, especially as this is already the norm in cinemas. However, I don't understand why people choose the noisiest foods imaginable - sweets in plastic wrappers, crisps, and now apparently even popcorn! Bring something quiet and discreet. When it comes to drinks - a bottle of still water is probably best, quietest and most thirst-quenching. You've come to watch and enjoy the show, not have a picnic.

Some on the forum have stated that these badly behaved theatre audiences are acting as though they've paid for their ticket and therefore can do what they like, and if this is true its quite a sorry, selfish state for British theatre. People do not seem to care about those around them anymore and how their experience is - they are going to do what they want, when they want it because they want to. End of. I do disagree with those who blame reality television casting for these audiences - the programmes bring in people who do not usually attend the theatre, it is true (and in my opinion, a good thing) but most of these people have probably at least been to the cinema and know how they should behave in a public place - decently with respect and courtesy for others. Its not that they haven't been taught how to behaviour in the theatre, its more that they either haven't been taught how to behave in public or that they just don't care. I'm inclined towards the latter.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Two weeks of theatre craziness...

Heard from the NYT on Saturday - 10 weeks after my audition when they said it'd be 8 at the most! However, I cannot harbour too many ill feelings as my letter started with the words 'Congratulations'! Our post usually comes at about noon so when I was woken by letters falling onto the mat at 8am I should have seen it as a sign. When I eventually dragged myself out of bed and went to get the letter, I immediately thought I hadn't made it. The letter was way too thin. However, heart pounding, I opened the envelope, put my hand in, and thought, "There's more than one sheet of paper in here." I pulled them out, saw the word synymous with success and immediately began jumping around my house yelling quite loudly. Went and informed my Mum, who was very pleased and then proceeded to play, sign and jump around to Spring Awakening's 'Totally Fucked' very loudly. My sister found it all very amusing.

Once I'd calmed down a tad, I had the chance to look through the letter and get a lot more excited. The week sounds amazing and after a brief chat with the parents we decided I'd shell out the additional money to stay in halls at Laban in Greenwich, where the course is being held. This has meant, unfortunately, I've had to drop out of a summer holiday to Spain with some friends but they were all very supportive, saying I couldn't pass this up. I also spoke to J and W who I auditioned with, and unfortunately they didn't get in - but it was their first time auditioning, where it was my second. Just shows its worth it to get back the next year, which they're both going to do!

I've already been speaking to some people on Facebook who are on my course, and we've all been discussing what we might get up to, what other drama experiences we have had and where we might go clubbing in the evening! I actually cannot wait.

In other news, the past two nights I had my A2 performance of 'Lord of the Flies' which went very well. The er, disruptive nature of our group meant we hadn't actually had a full run through without pauses or laughter so performing the piece in its entirety was nice, and it seemed to go down a storm with the audience which was brilliant. Many of my teachers who had never seen me perform before also complimented me on my performance, which was very nice. Bit sad its over now though, the last performance I'll have at high school!

Lastly, booked tickets for my third trip to Spring Awakening for S's birthday for next Friday - I'm excited. Does that make me a bit sad?

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Spring Time

My last post seems ridiculously long ago and in that time a ridiculous amount of things have happened so it seems ridiculous that I haven't written sooner. Ridiculous.

About two weeks ago I went back to Abacus to have my headshots done which was very exciting and fairly nerve-wracking at the same time. A good headshot can make or break a career and, knowing how important it would be, I got up very early to make sure that I was both looking my best and would make it there in time. Upon arrival, it appeared that an accident-induced traffic jam on the M25 meant that everyone who was meant to be shot before me hadn't arrived and therefore I was to go first. I quickly changed, checked my hair and went into the studio. The photographer was quite friendly although very blunt; at one point he pointed at my face and said, "I'm going to edit them afterwards so that spot there and that spot there, they'll all be gone." Cheers.

After that I went to visit 'the girls in the office' who were all very friendly, and they showed me how my Spotlight page will look. I also threw in a LOT of hints about Spring Awakening auditions and how much I'd like to play Melchior =P They also gave me my contracts to sign, so my life is now bound to them, woo!

My friend S is back from uni in Norwich this week, and I'd already told her to go and see Spring Awakening. She did and loved it, and wanted to go again before she went back. I rang up, booked stage tickets because she hadn't sat on stage and when the operator offered me stage right I had to politely ask, "Could we sit stage left please?" This was merely for perving reasons - I'm not going to say anything more than that. So this Wednesday we rushed up to London after I finished work (spending almost 15 pounds on a train ticket and parking in the process) and saw the show at the Novello which, for me, was the first time at that theatre. The show was amazing, so much better than the second time. I think it was partly that I knew more about it and also the cast had more experience now. I almost cried when Moritz kills himself and then couldn't stop smiling a minute later as the cast bounced around the stage belting out 'Totally Fucked' I love that song. Sitting stage left, I was actually right behind Aneurin Barnard who plays Melchior for a fair part of the show and at the interval I noticed some girls in the audience pointing at me and showing their friends. Suitably embarrased if a little pleased, I turned away.

The second half of the show was brilliant too, although as it neared the end I was sad it was over already! The cast came and did an encore of 'Totally Fucked' which I got quite into and was very nice.

Afterwards S and I went to the stage door, where we were informed that the cast were currently doing a Q&A and would be out soon. Now, they had done two shows that day, then a Q&A... if it was me I would've come out and gone straight home! However, they all stayed for ages to talk to us, sign things and take photos. Luckily they came out almost one at a time so we were able to talk to almost all of them. S sort-of knew Edd Judge so we talked to him for a fair while which was awesome, and also spoke to Charlotte Wakefield who plays Wendla - she is tiny! Before they came out, S and I joked that when Aneurin came out she wouldn't be able to speak and when he did come, she waited for me to start talking before complteley butting in =D. He was really nice, spent a good while talking to us and we had a conversation about us looking similar - at one point he said we could be brothers, and at another he said I could be his understudy and go on and perform whilst he goes for a pint. S joked he shouldn't have said that, I actually would go do it!

Some American women there asked him how to pronounce his name, which they butchered and then said how amazing he was to which he replied: "Don't say that, I won't be able to fit my head through the stage door!" Then S came and asked if he'd had a break yet and he said he wasn't meant to but last week he dislocated his rib and had to go to hospital and have it popped back in. Then he proceeded to lift his shirt and show us - S was very impressed.

Then the Americans asked to have a photo and I offered to take it so they both could be in it, and then I asked if I could have a photo with him which S took - its made a fair few people jealous and people have commented on how similar we look!

I think now, if I get an audition for the next cast, I should walk in and proclaim, "Aneurin said I could be his understudy, now gimme the part!"

Saturday, 21 March 2009

"Take that drama school!"

Very exciting news this week - I've heard from the agency. First I'll talk about the audition, which was two weeks ago today. At first we had a workshop with all the other auditionees, typical stuff like drama games and improv and things. Then we had to do some script work which ended up being from Skins but was (luckily!) less racy than you'd imagine. Then we did our monologues - I was a bit worried because mine was quite upbeat and I went third, and the girl and guy who went before me were very deep and intense. The girl did a monologue about a woman who had been raped and the guy did something from Equus so I was second guessing myself already. However, I did the monologue and the acting coach said that it was a good monologue and well performed but not the right choice if you're only performing one monologue, that it was good in a repotoire and if I was performing two or three it'd be great. But if you're doing one, you need to blow people away. However, she did say she was disappointed that I hadn't stretched myself more because she'd thought I could've done more. Which was kind of a compliment!

Then after that if we wanted to sing, we could and I sang 'If I Only Had a Brain' which they said was also an 'interesting' choice but I said I didn't really have any training and it was just what I'd done in a show. Afterwards they said they did like my voice but I definitely needed some training. Lookswise they then compared me to the actor playing Melchior in Spring Awakening.

So I came away feeling quite pleased with myself and waited a week for the email like they said... which never came. I got anxious and nervous and ran home every day from school for an email that never came - boo hiss indeed.

By Wednesday I thought the time that had passed was sufficient enough for me to ring them, which I did and spoke to the head of the agency and explained, and she said that the office had all been really ill and we'd get an email by the end of the week. And then she went, "Well, actually... oh I don't know if I can tell you, but maybe... hmm, well... when you get the email, it'll be a yes!" To which I proceeded to dance around my sixth form centre very excitedly.

So I got the official email a day later detailing photos being taken etc. and I'm just very happy and feeling of worth!

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

"Let's have a paint fight!"

I've got quite a few drama-type updates for you, some good and some bad. Life always seems to give you things in those kind of pairs - one door closes, another one opens.

So, I heard from both Mountview and LAMDA. And both of them said, "BUGGER OFF WE DON'T WANT YOU YOU'RE CRAP." Well, not quite that but it was a no nonetheless. That's okay - I knew my LAMDA had gone awfully (I was very, very late to boot) and I was so pleased to get to the last round of Mountview. I've made some sort of achievement, I'm not totally worthless. A little dent in the confidence but this industry is too tough to give up at the first hurdle. Anyway, I've begun looking at Foundation courses and I'm applying to Arts Ed for their Acting and Musical Theatre courses. Hopefully they'll give me something!

I also heard from Exeter University who said YES COME HERE which was nice. I'm not particularly interested in studying Drama at university but it was nice to get a yes after the many, many no's.

On another good note, I have an audition for an agency - its called Abacus and a few friends used to be represented by them. They also represented Keira Knightly and currently represent two of the cast of Spring Awakening which is showing at the Lyric Hammersmith. Which, coincidentally, I am going to see on Friday for free, thanks to A Night Less Ordinary. I can't wait! I've been listening to the soundtrack on repeat and I really love it. I'm considering doing a song from it for my audition - it'll show I've looked into the agency and that I keep up to date with new work. Hopefully. Either way, I'm excited.

Yesterday, I went up to the National Theatre to film part of an advert for their festival New Connections. The logo for this year is a high five with paint exploding behind it, so they picked a theme word from each play (such as hope, aggression or magic) and wanted the actors to come up with things to do with their hands to represent that. We had 'celebration' and did things such as dancing, a Mexican wave and clapping. All whilst having paint thrown at us. It was very fun and messy and I got to meet some nice people. Plus had a look around the backstage of the National which was really interesting. Saw some fascinating sets being made and I THINK I spotted a horse from War Horse.

Last week I went to see the Donmar's 'Twelfth Night' at the Wyndham's with Derek Jacobi with a few friends. Unlike other Shakespeare I have seen, which I've studied, I knew only a little about the play before hand so I was very interested to see how it translated. Of course, studying Shakespeare before helped with some of the language, but I did feel a little stupid in places when everyone around me was laughing hysterically and I was sat there looking blank. However, the rest of the audience did look about fifty years older than me so I think I'm excused. However, I did understand the play and found many parts very, very funny. Jacobi was amazingly hilarious whilst still exuding that magic that only a few older Shakespearian actors have (I'm thinking Ian McKellen and Patrick Stuart). Similarly the actress' playing Viola and Olivia were both stunningly gorgeous and immensely talented - sorry I don't know you're names!

However, one thing that did irritate my slightly was the staff. Admittedly we were a few minutes late but as we ran in, flustered and red-faced, they were very rude and condescending. Okay, we were a tad late but we're students paying quite a lot of money for these tickets - you could be polite and courteous! I know I would be if I were in their position.

I also saw On the Waterfront with Stephen Berkoff two weeks ago - but I'll write about that some other time.

Tomorrow, I am auditioning for the National Youth Theatre with two friends - I'm looking forward to it if not expecting to get in. I auditioned last year, and I know many people get in on their second or third audition but this time I'm not as bothered. Maybe its because I'm older. Who knows.

In other news, Sweeney Todd is coming along wonderfully. We had our third rehearsal last night and began the hardest song in the show, 'God That's Good!' and God is it hard! Luckily I'm not in it that much but even so I was assigned to the tenor section. What's that about!? I'm a frickin' baritone and I can't even squeek these notes. I'm quite scared. There's about five parts going on at once, with chorus having conversations whilst the leads sing vital stuff... its all crazy. However, it is sounding quite brilliant already so I've got hope!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

This is going to be a very short post before I return to my audience recollections, simply for a quick update.
Update One: SNOW! We've had about 10 inches of snow, and for the first time in my life I've had an official school day. It feels quite extraordinary. I met up with some friends and had less of a snow-fight and more of a snow-wrestle, but luckily my newly acquired skiing gear kept my dry and toasty.

Update B: I've been cast as Anthony Hope in an am dram version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street! I'm very excited as the part is a bit more demanding musically than I've done before, and a challenge is always good. So I'm very scared at the prospect of those top Es but I also can't wait! However, there's another youth am dram version of the play going on in the area, and some guys from my school are in both productions - rivalry in the drama department! However, this does provide me with a story to tell that has a moral! Oh yes, I'm trying to educate you as well as let you laugh at my endeavors. One of the members of the Other Play is called C and he's one of those actors who are just a little too over the top, a little too enthusiastic, a little too confident in their own abilities. Anyway, he auditioned for Sweeney and didn't get it; I however know the actor who did get it (O). I worked with him about three years ago, and even then he was very, very good. He's been at Arts Ed sixth form now for two years so I'm sure he's improved. C on the other hand believed that O didn't deserve the role. He made this view very clear on someone's Facebook wall, a someone who was 'Friends' with the director of his show, who obviously wasn't happy with this criticism. C has now been made to publicly apologise and been banned from all future roles in the company's shows.

Now, this says two things to me. One, it seems a little bit like karma and that he got his comeuppance, but I'm nice so we wont' say that. Secondly, sometimes it is really best to keep your opinion to yourself. The industry is very small and in this day and age with networking sites and suchlike, anyone can read anything. And thirdly, why put it on someone's wall! Seriously: email, private message, text, phonecall, MSN, letter, face-to-face, carrier pigeon - there are a hundred and one ways to let someone know something without making it very, very public. Fool.

Friday, 30 January 2009


Drama school auditions - the terrifying stuff of legend, for an actor at least. Everyone (or almost everyone) feels the same: the excitement as you send off your applications, the anticipation as you prepare monologues, and then the fear and nerves that set in as you sit outside the audition room, hearing the guy who went in before you scream Hamlet at the top of his lungs. Its all a part of the process but its a scary and sometimes unfair part nonetheless.

I've recently been auditioning and had four of my five auditions, and already had a 'thanks, but no thanks!' from three of them. Its obviously disheartening but I know how difficult the profession is, I know how rare it is to get into a good school straight from school, and I know how many people apply for so few places - I'm really not suprised. Nonetheless, its not going to put me off. I've always wanted a gap year, some time to myself where I can rest between 7 years of continuous academic study and then a potential three years of intensive dramatic training. I want to work, I want to travel, I want to work on my abilities and skills. So, although to get in would have been amazing (and hey, I've still got two possibilities left!) its definitely not the end of the world for me.

So without further adieu, I'd like to recount my experiences, thoughts and emotions at each of my auditions, with some sarcastic and possibly bitchy commentary.

First up was Central School of Speech and Drama. Now, I'm not trying to make excuses but this audition was on the 5th of January - I was still very much on New Year time, of getting up at about 12 and not being able to sleep until three. To get to Central in time, showered and looking presentable, I had to wake up at 5.30. So, unfortunately, I only got about 2 and a half hours sleep on the night before the audition. Luckily I woke buzzing with adrenaline and was practically bouncing around the house. True to British weather being unpredictable, it had also snowed the night before and walking through London was beautiful but dangerous. I somehow managed to make it to the North London site without any injury.

The school was quite modern and quite an attractive building. As I entered the nerves went into overdrive and I luckily found myself a table at the school cafe where I warmed myself with a mug of steaming water and began to mentally prepare myself for the audition. By prepare myself, I mean stick my headphones on and mouth along to 'Defying Gravity' whilst trying to believe that 'No Wizard that there is or was is ever going to bring me down!' Okay, substitute 'Wizard' for 'Bitchy Drama school applicant' and your halfway there. When the appointed time came, we were all led into the school's theatre, where I sat next to two 20ish year olds who proceeded to chat about how they had, "Been working with Yanek darling, over at Drury Lane," which promptly terrified me. Luckily the girl then mentioned, "When I was here last year..." which helped a tad. She might've been working with Yanek but Central had not wanted her last year!

Now, I'd heard stories about Central: about how you have to perform your monologues in front of everyone, and that you had to create either a dance or a story or even write an essay! So being led into a proper theatre was another panic-inducing experience but luckily I got chatting to some girls behind me who confirmed that, yes, you did perform infront of others but they would only be a small group of about eight with whom you would take part in workshops and a tour.

I think now I'd like to talk a little bit about the workshop: at Central, you can apply for Stage and Screen, Musical Theatre or Devising. I'd selected Stage and Screen with MT as my backup, as had everyone else in my group. Somhow, we were put in a workshop for Devising(!) and for the next hour had to pretend we were, amongst other things: a sea horse, a camel, a mosquito, 30% fire and 70% human, 50-50 fire-human, and the colours white and blue. This was all well and good and things I'd be warned to expect. However, we were then asked to perform our monologues as an element that matched the mood of the speech, and then subvert it with an element that did not match. This too, was fine. However, then the intstructor singled each of us out and asked us to, "Internalise the fire, take the fire inside your organs!" Now, if they'd told me what they wanted me to do, I'm sure I could of done it. But take the fire into my lungs? I'm sorry, do you want me to act like I can't breathe? That my lungs are burning?

The monologue performance was the last part of my day at Central and probably the one that everyone was most prepared for and yet most scared about. I have an unfortunate last name which means I was selected to perform first - oh joy! I actually thought that my performance wasn't bad and after talking with people later I gained a little confidence. I'd like to highlight two other performances, one for being very very good and one for being very very bad. A girl who I later came to be friends with and still talk to, was called after me and performed two very strong pieces which for the life of me I cannot remember the names of! Despite that, I was almost certain that, if any of our group made it to round 2, it would be her. Other people came and went and then came the next male. Lets call him D. D was performing the same Shakespeare monologue as me and performed it in a very different well, which is all well and dandy. I'd never say my performance was the only way to interpret a piece. However, the whole piece was soft and mopey, until he got to one line, which he screamed crazily. And it wasn't even one of angry or upset lines in the piece, it was actually quite a nice line. Anyway, D then proceeded to his contemporary piece which he duly forgot the lines of twice. And he didn't just forget - oh no! He came out of character and said under his breath, "Shit, shit, shit," for about half a minute, before resuming his speech. He did this again, and then skipped to the end where nothing made any sense and left us all confused.

Needless to say, I wasn't called back to the afternoon at Central but it was a really enjoyable day, an interesting and valuable experience, and a good way to dive into my period of auditions. Oh, and D? Yeah he got through the second round. Embarrasing indeed.

Next time - Bristol Old Vic!