Guide To Drama School Audition Preparation
I advise my clients to prepare at least double the minimum required number of speeches. This is partly because your truthful interpretation of these texts will improve at different rates, so a speech which may have been difficult and awkward in week three of your preparation may blossom in week seven and a speech which seemed amazing in week one may feel stale by week nine.
In addition, the greater variety of texts you work with, the wider will be the range of your development.
Finally, if you manage to gain a recall there will be more material for you and the Drama School staff to work with if you have a variety of speeches; this will allow you to demonstrate a far wider variety of range than the minimum requirement.
Applicants often prioritise choosing rare and unusual texts in the belief that an audition panel will become ‘bored’ of seeing the same material on a regular basis.
In my experience this is seldom the case.
Audition panelists will be far more engaged by a truthful and imaginative interpretation of a familiar piece than by merely seeing unusual material.
A female looking for Classical speeches will find that, within Shakespeare’s cannon for example, there are a limited number of good monologues and most of these will be well known. The more obscure female speeches, although more rarely done, may well lack the ‘bite’ of those which are better known.
The Drama Schools are looking for students with excellent potential; they won’t let a promising student go just because the choice of speeches could have been more unusual.
When choosing modern speeches you have far more scope to find a speech with which you feel a personal connection and which might show your knowledge of and passion for theatrical writing.
Early preparation is essential. It should go without saying that an applicant needs to study the entire play from which the speech is taken; however, it is all too common to find that an applicant with great potential has skipped this important part of the craft. This will almost certainly lead to an applicant’s rejection.
Find out why your character is speaking. We speak in order to fulfil our needs, so you’ll need to discover:
a) who your character is speaking to
b) how you want to affect them
c) why this is intended to help your character
Discover the ‘journey’ that your character goes through from the start to the finish of the speech.
Nerves can be a huge distraction in the audition environment. The most effective way to deal with this is to focus your attention entirely on the character’s needs and the character’s world.
The greater your physical and psychological investment in the truth of the scene, the less of your attention will be available to wonder what the panel are writing, what they think of you, how well your speech is going and whether you are likely to be offered a place at Drama School.
These issues are not for you, they concern the panel. Your job as an actor is to entertain the audience by taking them on an exploration of your character in a specific situation.
They will believe what you believe. If you don’t invest fully in the truth of the moment then the audience will be unable to do so.
Allow yourself to explore and make discoveries during your performance; the audience will feel this too!
Enjoy your work. Acting is an incredibly difficult career to pursue, many actors have years without a fulfilling role. At your audition you will be performing high quality text before a very attentive audience in a vividly charged atmosphere; you have the lead role so make the most of your time!
You may be interviewed by the panel and it can be difficult not to try to please them by ‘saying the right thing’.
Be yourself. That’s what they want to see.
If you’re nervous then be nervous; this is expected.
Be honest; acting is all about honesty, vulnerability, courage and truth.
Your aim should be to entertain the panel by giving them a truthful and honest glimpse into another character’s world. Have the confidence and professionalism to focus on a truthful portrayal whilst performing your speeches.
Don’t make assumptions about what they’re looking for; you may be exactly what they want!
Many successful actors have taken years auditioning before getting into Drama School.
If you audition for several colleges in one season you will be improving all the time.
Read plays, go to the theatre and be as involved as you can between audition seasons.
If you decide to stop trying after your first year then perhaps this isn’t the career for you!
I also offer Shakespeare Audition Coaching, which requires a similar level of dedication and preparation as an actor.
Best of Luck!
2 Littleworth Close, Brighton