Dear West End Producer: What’s your advice for drama school auditions?

West End Producer West End Producer Photo: Matt Crockett
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Auditioning for drama schools is a stressful business. Not only have you got to consider what speeches to use and what song to sing there’s also the unfortunate business of the expense. To audition for some drama schools costs as much as £86 (the absurd late application fee RADA charges). Add the money it costs to travel to London and you can be looking at hundreds of pounds – particularly if you want to audition for several.

So, if you don’t have much money then your chances of getting into drama school becomes even harder – as you may not even be able to afford to audition. Elitism in our business? It starts before you’ve even entered it, dear.

Anyhow – audition advice. Firstly, plan in advance. Plan your speeches, your journey time, what questions to ask – and, importantly, plan when you’re going to apply. As stated above, some drama schools will charge you more to audition the later you apply – so get on to it as soon as possible (to avoid giving even more of your hard-earned money to the ‘staff summer barbecue fund’).

Choose monologues that are right for you. There really is little point going in with a speech from Scarface (where every other word is motherfudger), or something said by a character who is substantially older than you. Stick to your own age – think about what kind of roles you could honestly see yourself playing now.

Spend hours, days, even months scouring through plays, or watching other student productions – and steal speeches you think would work for you. Avoid choosing anything from those ‘monologue books’ that offer a selection of speeches for auditions – as everyone else will be using them. Stand out, offer something unique, and stop the audition panel falling asleep.

Once you’ve decided on your speeches, learn them backwards. Work on them constantly, so you’re so confident you could get through them even if the audition panel were naked. You will usually be redirected on your scenes – don’t be put off if you’re asked to do them another way. Work on them with a teacher at school, or friends from your local theatre. Any chance you get, perform them.

Do some research about the drama school – where it is, what the course is like, and what actors trained there. Each drama school will offer different training, so have a study of the prospectus and course outline so you know which schools are the ones you want. Have questions ready, and be able to talk about what it is about the school that excites you.

Try to let your personality shine. The panel will be interested in that as your talent (although a bit of talent is useful). They want to see the real you.

Finally, make sure you arrive early on the day of your audition. No one likes lateness, particularly hungover drama school tutors. Being late makes it look like you value your time more than the people you’ve left waiting. And, in showbiz, time is money, dear.

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