I have two drama school auditions coming up. I was originally due to travel to London for both, but they are now being done online. I’m waiting for further information from the schools on how the auditions will work, which doesn’t surprise me, as I can imagine this is new territory for them as well as for those applying.
While I’m waiting, I wanted to do as much preparation as I can. Could you give me some advice on two things I have been wondering about?
Firstly, do you think it is worth me buying a new webcam and mic for the auditions? The ones built into my laptop work fine for online chats with family members and friends, but they are not what you would call broadcast standard.
Secondly, have you any advice on choosing drama school audition pieces that work well in an online setting?
Remote auditions are likely to become increasingly common for actors so, if your budget allows, upgrading equipment can be a sensible long-term investment. However, if you are facing financial challenges, be encouraged that in a drama school audition it should be you – not your technology – that is being assessed.
As with a good self-tape, the main technical elements that you do need to get right are simple: being seen and heard clearly. Two elements affect this: the settings on your computer, phone or camera, and the physical location where you do your shooting. In the first case, make sure you are familiar with how your equipment works ahead of time and try to do several dry runs with friends or family members in advance.
Try to use the same video-conferencing platform the drama school you are auditioning for will be using. This is easier if the interview will be on an external platform such as Skype or Zoom, but even if the drama school is using their own internal classroom platform, the onus should be on them to give you as much advance technical information as you need so that on the day, you can focus on your performance.
There are lots of YouTube tutorials that will help you choose the best location at home for optimum light and sound quality, and even help you co-opt household lamps and other non-studio equipment to enhance your set-up if you need to.
In terms of the audition material, the advice here is really no different to the choices I would suggest if you were auditioning face to face. Within the parameters a drama school may specify, there is usually room for personal choice and it is always best to pick pieces that show off your strengths and resonate personally with you, rather than what you think they want to hear.
The only concession to the camera I suggest is not to pick very physical pieces that might not come across as clearly on screen as in a room. If your best piece does have such elements, think about how you can adapt that physicality to suit the online medium.
Finally, check and double-check that all your equipment is charged overnight and kept as near to fully charged as it can be on audition day. As with an in-person audition, the main thing you are aiming for is a connection with your audience. That will be much easier to achieve if you are focused on them and not a rapidly diminishing power bar in the corner of your screen just as you reach the climax of your monologue.