Audition Preparation - Which School?
Why Train to be an actor?
The very obvious answer to this is that it will give you the skills, techniques and knowledge that you need to be an actor. Training will equip you to be able to work as a professional within the industry. Training will also give you vital performance time and allow you to explore a range of different approaches and styles of performance.
Training will also give you the opportunity to be showcased to the right people (Agents, Casting Agents, Directors etc). Vocational Drama Schools will all 'launch' you into industry via end of year shows and showcase productions. You should also receive important professional development classes.
Occasionally you may read of someone picked out of obscurity to star in a film. These are few and far between and what will not be publicised is the extensive support and coaching that this individual will inevitably get. The simple fact is that Acting Agents and Casting Agents will not consider taking on anyone who has not trained. Over 86% of actors working in the profession have received formal professional training.
Drama School or University?
This can be very confusing for some people. There are over 2,000 performing arts and drama courses on offer at Universities in the UK, but most of these do not have direct links to industry nor do they train you to be an actor. As a rule university courses tend to be more academic and less practical. However, most of the main Drama schools run qualifications and/or are validated by a university - this is normally for funding purposes.
For a list of the main Drama Schools visit the The Federation of Drama Schools. These are not the ONLY vocational Drama Schools, there are others, but these may not have qualifications attached to them and you may have to get a loan or find the funds to pay fees. Two good examples of these are The Bridge Theatre Training in London and The Academy of Creative Training in Brighton
If you want to be an actor - go to Drama School. If you want to work generally in theatre or make and create your own theatre then you may be better off doing a performing arts degree.
Remember: no-one in the industry will ever ask you what degree you have or if you got a First, they will however want to know that you have trained at a Drama School.
How do I Choose Which School?
Visit The Federation of Drama Schools, which is a group of institutions that provide conservatoire style vocational training - 3 year courses. Do a Google search for Drama Schools in your region or nationally.
Visit each Drama Schools website and ask (web/phone/write) for a prospectus - many have downloadable pdf prospectuses.
Ask people in the industry (if you know any) if they have any knowledge or recommendations of schools. Ask any friends, or friends of friends, if they know anyone at a Drama School or that has any knowledge of Drama Schools.
Make a list of actors whose work you admire or whose careers you would wish to emulate and see where they trained. Many Drama Schools have an alumni section or you could try The Spotlight or Internet Movie Data Base. If you can find an actors agent and they have a website with their credits listed this should include where they trained. Obviously younger actors will be a clearer reflection of the schools as they are now.
I.e. Ben Whisaw - Hamilton Hodell Talent Management - Trained at RADA.
Do your research - if you win a place you will be at that school for three years and making huge personal and financial sacrifices to stay there. You want to be absouloutly sure that you are going for schools that you really like and that also feel right for you.
Make a short list of schools you are interested in and:
- Go see their public shows (if possible talk to the students afterwards to see what they think of the school/course).
Go to any Open Days they may have.
Go to any Summer Schools / Workshops they may run.
When you have narrowed the field research the application process:
If by UCAS
If by direct application
Audition process and fees
Different Drama Schools have different audition requirements - some will want you to do a Shakespeare and a Contemporary, some are happy with a classical and contemporary (i.e. doesn't have to be Shakespeare). Some have a list you MUST choose from some a list you MUST NOT choose from.For example Central School of Speech and Drama - Audition Speeches (Classical)
Check what dates they use to define modern / contemporary or classical etc - i.e. plays written after 1950 etc.
Ideally you would want three speeches that fitted the requirements of the schools you are auditioning for and possibly a song.
Most schools will require a non refundable audition fee usually £30 - £80. Some schools offer fee waivers based on applicants household income/circumstances.