The Drama School Audition – and how to survive it
– Some partisan advice from Terrie Fender, Head of GSA at the University of Surrey. (Information originally posted on www.dramauk.co.uk)
Audition processes vary slightly from school to school. Some schools hold one-day auditions where a decision is made at the end of a single day. Other schools may hold up to five rounds of recalls, where you will experience an ever increasing sense of hopefulness and tension as you draw nearer to the final recall and decision. Some schools do communal workshops and others do single auditions before a panel. Some do combinations of all these.
Whichever process you experience it is essential to ensure that you understand how the particular process works and also that you have some understanding about how the decisions are made.Firstly
– it’s very competitive. Most schools see literally thousands of candidates for a very limited number of places. I know you don’t want to hear that and it may seem unhelpful to remind you. However, it is important for you to know that any recall at any of the Drama UK schools is a really impressive result! It also should help you to put a potential rejection letter into a more understandable and manageable context. It really doesn’t necessarily indicate a lack of talent. Having said that, however many rounds you actually go through in each individual process and how well you do in any one of them, the final result will usually be one of the following:
- An offer of a place (which can sometimes be conditional on funding or academic grades)
- An offer of a place on the waiting list
Obviously you will be hoping for the first one! But it isn’t always possible for schools to offer even outstanding candidates a place straight away, particularly if the audition process is in the early stages. Perhaps you didn’t know this, but in order to maintain equal opportunities and to treat everyone fairly, schools need to ensure that a proportional number of places are available right through to the end of the audition period. Therefore it is often necessary to put good candidates on the waiting list, in order to stagger the acceptance procedure appropriately.
Also, it is often extremely difficult to make a final decision between candidates who may all be excellent in their own individual ways. When faced with a hundred excellent candidates and only 20 places, schools will need to take account of a number of factors in addition to that of the demonstration of talent.
Schools will consider the need for diversity within the cohort, castability, gender balance, evidence of commitment and desire to succeed and the ability to work creatively in a group with others. We are potentially going to be working together quite intensively for three years, so it is very important to find the right match! The audition panellists will also consider the balance of the final cohort in terms of how they might be cast in final year shows and also how they will reflect and embody the likely requirements of the performing arts industry of the future.
In this regard, drama school auditions reflect the way in which the industry operates its own professional audition procedures. This means that sometimes, talented candidates may miss out on places in a particular year. This may not necessarily reflect on their ability to succeed at another time and place, or in the presence of a different panel.
So, if at first you don’t succeed, do try again. If repeated attempts bear no fruit, it may be wise to consider other ways of entering the profession and of finding alternative ways to pursue the things you love. There are other ways - and it is important to remember that. Your abilities and drive may push you through regardless of a successful drama school audition.So how best to prepare?
Most schools will audition everyone who applies in a first round audition. There are usually at least two panellists, sometimes more, who will decide whether to put you through to the second round.
We try to assist candidates by setting clear requirements in advance of the audition. It is very important that you take note of these requirements and prepare as carefully as possible, making sure that you follow all advice regarding suitable monologues, songs, clothing and any other special activities.
The choice of monologue is really important. The choice says something about you, the kind of material you respond to and whether or not you have a realistic view of your own potential.