Fairly recently I’ve found myself on the receiving end of three rejections for drama school. As much as I was put off A LOT by the first audition – I was awful – I still showed up for the two, well sort of. My third audition was via self-tape due to COVID-19.
I therefore have only missed out on one type of audition, the group audition. I’ll gladly have that stay way from me for now.
The first audition was ‘arrive at such a such a time, allow up to four hours.’ What this meant in reality was that all prospective candidates arrived at the same and exchanged awkward small talk not knowing what we’d all be doing over the coming hours. We were then ushered to a tiny meeting room and basically told to wait until our name was called. This was great insofar as we all got to know each other quite and our monologues would be done in private but awful as it meant that no one really knew when their turn was going to be or even where the nearest water dispenser was!
The two people looking after us did their best and prior to our name’s being called they would take us out of the room and allow us time to prepare monologues in the section by the lifts…
The assessors were lovely but going in after 3 and a half hours was not my favourite thing to do. I was really bad. It was my first ever audition for any type of drama school.
Secondly, the audition I flew too! That’s right, just before lockdown came into being I was in Bristol Airport travelling to a city I had never been to before to take only my second ever audition! This one was far more organised. Probably helped by the email I received that if travelling airplane please feel free to audition via self-tape only. What I had learnt in the first audition was that I’m much better performing to a ‘crowd’, even if I had to start again! So I flew up anyway.
My allotted time was my actual time to be seen which was great. They had some people withdraw due to COVID-19 so I could be seen slightly earlier too. Lovely two person panel again and this is where things got interesting.
My Shakespeare monologue is one of Benedick’s from Much Ado About Nothing. When completing this in the first audition I was asked to strip right back to pure emotion and the ‘hurt’ my character was feeling. I had some good feedback following my second rendition of the piece after shrinking it. Although conflicted as I thought I understand the piece and the context of the monologue I went into the second audition toning down my effort and was then asked to build it right the way up and be the brash character Benedick is… So confusing.
I felt really proud of my second audition and left feeling jubilant. When I applied for these schools I was optimistic but not under any illusion that I would get in first time but I was proud of my two attempts.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and COVD-19 has reared its ugly head and closed all gatherings, including my third audition. I would now have to audition via self-tape denying me the opportunity of having the full group experience. I was sad about this as putting myself in uncomfortable positions is now how I see my life. I didn’t quite realise how uncomfortable isolation was going to be and the impact it would have on my desire to put myself out there; it has taken me over three weeks to start writing or singing or do anything creative and I forced my hand with these by doing a Facebook Live everyday.
The night before the cut off point was when I finally got round to recording and submitting the self-tape. I know that I do better when in front of people and in each of the two auditions I had been given direction and was able to chat. The absence of this made me feel very underwhelmed but I did it anyway and submitted after having my niece be tech support holding my light up for me to make sure the room wasn’t too dark.
I’ll share my Shakespeare monologue with you at some point and I hope you enjoy it, but don’t replicate it for two reasons:
- I’m not you
- It didn’t get me a place in any of the schools
The third school’s rejection email was beautiful making distinctions about how our performances and subsequent rejections were not an indication as to how good or bad our talent was. That was nice to receive for the last one.
It reminded me of how different the perception of pieces were between schools one and two and how the first one changed my preparation for the second audition. The truth is that neither interpretation is wrong or right.
This is why we must carry on along the path that we have set for ourselves. No, I’m not going to drama school this September, but neither are the 1000 or more people who applied to the same institutions and it probably has nothing to do with talent and way more to do with perceptions and luck on any given day. We have the power to create good luck by turning up and doing our best on each given day that we strive toward what we want to achieve, using our personalities to shift perceptions and feelings in the room.
We’re all more similar than we like to think so plucking star students out of the room is difficult. Was I down about my first audition, yes, but that’s because I let myself down; and got a parking ticket! But even though I didn’t get beyond the first stage in the two other schools I can hold my head up high. I can learn from those experiences and use them to make me better able to influence a panel and more sure as to what I am going to bring into the room.
Casting Directors will write about ‘be bold’ in the audition, I think I know what that means and if this is an endeavour I want to persist with then going bold and less polite is definitely the order of the day.