It is a mystery to anyone outside the industry why drama schools routinely charge auditionees for the privilege (usually) of being rejected – and that everyone simply accepts this practice as the way things are done.
After all, an audition is only a specialised form of interview. If they interview prospective students, other sorts of higher education provider do not charge the applicants – and many of them are pretty incredulous when you tell them that this is the modus operandi in performing arts and that a keen applicant who auditions in several colleges can spend a substantial three figure sum.
Now, this is not a loaded question because I really don’t know the answer. Will someone please tell me why it has become established practice to charge potential students for auditioning and what the reasoning behind it is?
A few observations and a bit of speculation while I wait to have it explained to me.
Surely if you pay money for the audition experience you should at the very least get some decent feedback? My discussions with students indicate that, far too often you’re told nothing if you’re rejected
First, if the reason is that running auditions ties up costly staff and premises then how does that differ from any other form of higher education? Seeing and assessing potential students always ties up resources and although many, universities for example, don’t interview most students but rely on the written applications, there are plenty which do. But they don’t charge.
Second, could it be the numbers game? Major drama schools get thousands of applications and audition large numbers of students. I’d be very interested to see the figures. How much does it cost exactly to run a day’s auditions compared with the charges received from the students? Could there – let me spell it out – be a profit in this for the school? If it isn’t that, then why don’t the schools cap the numbers they audition to save time, money, effort and disappointment for all concerned?
Third, even if we accept that this is a perfectly reasonable way of working, do the students get value for money when they pay for drama school auditions? I hear upbeat stories from happy students about very enjoyable, formative all-day auditions with workshops and so on. But I also hear hair-raising accounts of schools which start rejecting and dismissing auditionees very early in the day. How can it be fair to travel to, say, London, from, say, Manchester, at your own expense only to be ‘eliminated’ in the first hour?
Fourth, surely if you pay money for the audition experience you should at the very least get some decent feedback – whether or not you are offered a place? My discussions with students indicate that, far too often you’re told nothing if you’re rejected.
I wonder if the performing arts training industry could use a stringent code of practice for student auditions to ensure standards? Yet another job for DramaUK?
Meanwhile I’d be really grateful for some answers and comments both from schools and from auditionees. Put me straight please, why don’t you?