Drama schools vary in size, smell, location, and whether they have the word ‘academy’ in the title. They are brilliant facilities for acting training, producing some of the most flexible performers in the world. Many graduates leave to become huge stars, working at places like the National Theatre, Butlin’s and Covent Garden. If you are considering training at drama school, it is essential you do years of research to help you decide which is right for you. And, once you have, be prepared for the fact that they accept only the most talented students (or people who can afford to pay privately).
Every drama school offers different training. While some specialise in musical theatre, others are known for their dedication to the art of ‘dramatic pauses’ (essential when working at the Royal Court). Some drama school auditions last two minutes, while others take months of recalls until you get the all-important ‘offer’. Most drama schools will ask you to perform two speeches – one classical and one contemporary. A classical speech can be from anything that uses the words ‘da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum’, while a contemporary monologue can be from any EastEnders Christmas Special. But you already knew that, dear.
So, I’m not going to waste any more time telling you what you already know. Instead, I am going to make this article a lot easier for me to write by doing a list of what ‘not to do’ and what ‘to do’ at your drama school audition. Enjoy:
• Don’t arrive late.
• Avoid talking about your ex who is in the second year.
• Never say that your favourite actor is Amanda Holden (unless she’s on the panel).
• Try not to appear arrogant to current students – these people are ‘drama robots’ who record everything, which is then watched by the principal.
• Avoid singing anything from Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera, or Shrek (or any other green-based musical).
• Don’t fall over during the dance audition.
• Never bribe the panel with cheap wine.
• Never wear Capezio split-sole jazz trainers or bandanas during your dance call (desperate and dated, dear).
• Try not to stand still – the odd hand movement can add interest. If the speech requires it, you should try crying, sobbing, screaming, and beating your chest (very impressive).
• Never say you have TV experience and then say it was on Naked Attraction.
• Don’t say ‘scene’ at the at the end of your speech. It’s far more impressive to bow and put your head between your legs.
• Don’t beg for feedback, or call the school every day – you’ll get an answer eventually without stalking the tutors.
• Make sure your personal statement is based on fact, and not copied from Judi Dench’s autobiography.
• Be prepared to work with others – you will inevitably do group improvisation sessions, involving tennis balls and sitting in a circle.
• If you are given direction and asked to do your speech differently, do it very differently – drama school tutors love it when people actually listen to them.
• Always say the school you’re auditioning for is the one you’ve always wanted to go to (even if you’re auditioning for 12 different ones).
• And, most importantly, ensure you start saving years in advance of your auditions or you won’t be able to afford them (some are now £70 a time) – in fact it is now commonplace for parents to start a ‘drama school fund’ for their newborn babies.