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!