Audition fees for LAMDA are being cut by 75% to £12 for first-round applicants, in Sarah Frankcom’s first move as the drama school’s new director.
The former Royal Exchange artistic director begins her tenure today (November 4) and has announced that audition fees will be cut from a flat rate of £54. They will be replaced by a two-stage approach, with a £12 fee for initial auditions across all courses.
Applicants who proceed to the recall stage will pay a further £48, but LAMDA said the fee change would reduce the cost for the majority of candidates, meaning that those who progress further and benefit more from the process would pay a “more proportional part of the overall fee”.
To audition for RADA’s BA acting course applicants must pay a £46 fee if they register to do so before December, after which this rises to £76, however other courses at the college do not charge for application. For Guildhall, the fee is £66 for UK applicants, while Bristol Old Vic Theatre School charges £55 per person. Fee waivers are available at all three schools.
Drama schools have been under increasing pressure over audition fees in the face of criticisms that they mean drama training is inaccessible to young people from lower income backgrounds.
Frankcom said the changes, which will cut the upfront cost of auditioning by 75%, would enable the school to find the best talent from across the country.
She added: “It is all about creating greater opportunity. For too long we have talked about removing barriers to students from challenging and low-income backgrounds, but the cost of the first audition for these aspiring actors has too easily been a barrier to them seeking their chance to audition. LAMDA wants to demonstrate the importance to the industry of slashing the cost of that vital first audition.”
The first round will consist of a workshop and a small group audition, for which applicants will be asked to prepare a single speech. Successful applicants will then progress to a recall stage, which comprises a full-day workshop where candidates will receive direction and feedback.
Overseeing the process will be a new specially appointed audition team, made up of both LAMDA staff and working arts practitioners. This is to “ensure transparency and consistency”, the school said.
Fee waivers and travel bursaries will continue to be available, LAMDA said, while first auditions will still take place in 11 cities across the UK, Ireland and France.
The changes were welcomed by LAMDA’s president, Benedict Cumberbatch, who said: “I am so excited to see that Sarah’s first step as the director of LAMDA has been to open up the doors to greater opportunity for students from the toughest backgrounds.
“We need to make sure that training for the stage, film and television is opened up and that we take down barriers to young people with enormous talent and potential who might have been put off by a first audition fee that was unaffordable.”