Dear West End Producer: ‘How do you know if a drama school is right for you?’
— Jeremy Collins-Webb (@flyjezza13) October 17, 2017
There are now nearly as many drama schools as there are actors. And the challenge of deciding which one is right for you can be very daunting.
It has to be a good match – so that you feel the school offers everything you require. Not everyone will have a choice about which drama school they go to – they’ll just go to the one that offers them a place. But if you are lucky and have a choice, then bravo.
A drama school audition should be a rewarding and satisfying experience, where you get the chance to show your talent and also learn something new. The audition days can, in fact, last anything from 30 seconds to a full day, and from your time there you should get a good idea of the kind of place it is. Obviously, at an audition you’re going to be nervous, but hopefully the people running your audition will make you feel welcome. If they don’t, that’s one to cross off your list straightaway.
Some drama schools have an air of arrogance, and feel that students should be grateful for simply being allowed in. However, these institutions should pull the complete works of Shakespeare from out of their bottoms and get back down to earth. The audition is for you, and not for the panel to inflate their egos.
When arriving at the school you will be shown around by an existing student. This is a good time to get some honest feedback about the school. Ask the student how they have found the training, if they have enjoyed it, and any advice they would give. See if you can imagine yourself being this person in a couple of years.
One of the most important things to consider is the people that are auditioning you. They should be attentive and supportive, and encourage you to do well. The way they talk to you and respond to your work will be very telling.
Ask them lots of questions at the end – this is your time to audition them. Notice how you feel after leaving the audition room, and imagine if you would like to be working with them full time.
The school itself is also important. Have a look around the building. What are the premises like? Is the equipment good? Does the school canteen offer food that looks edible?
Have a look around the area the school is in. Some schools are based in nicer areas than others – for example, RADA is in Bloomsbury, so it’s a beautiful area, but rent is very expensive. However, Mountview is in Wood Green (for now; it moves to Peckham next year), which is not as nice, but rent is a lot cheaper. Do you feel like you could live in the area, and is it safe?
But finally, it’s all down to your instinct – follow your gut. I must say I like your way of approaching the audition – ‘is the drama school right for me?’ Thinking of it this way means you go into the audition with an air of confidence. It means that you’re auditioning them just as much as they’re auditioning you, dear.
Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer