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Sunday, 6 June 2010

What news?

Well- first on the agenda- NO NEWS FROM BRISTOL...still.

And so The Guildhall recall...

I had a lovely feeling about Guildhall from the start and so hoped that the recall would be a pleasant experience at the least. The recall was to last a day and a half structured as follows.

I saw three panels of two members for 15 minute auditions. The panel members are current teachers at the school. In these panel auditions I showed my speeches and briefly worked on them, responding to directorial notes from them. One panel also looked at my song.

I would have a 2 hour physical workshop in a group of 10-15 people after which we each also showed our speeches to the panel. This time of three teachers.

We each had a meeting with the head of the school - a brief kind of how d'ye do.

Finally we each had a brief meeting with a singing teacher who heard our song and had a little chat about our singing training.

In total therefore, I was assessed by eleven members of staff, in a period of roughly three and a half hours. However, as I am not the centre of the universe they did not arrange to see me one after the other, and so I had to bide my time as everything was scheduled out over the day and a half period.

I was very impressed with their approach of having a great number of people assessing each of us. It gave them a chance to see us from every angle, and us the opportunity to show them. I left feeling good about the whole thing. working with each panel was exciting and challenging.

They do all of their recalls over the course of a week and so I had to wait whilst they saw everyone else before they were to decide who they offered places to. The outcome?



Thursday, 11 March 2010

LAMDA - 'second' first round audition.

LAMDA said that they didn't think they'd seen me at my best in my first audition so I ought to come back and give it another go. I think that this is what they do when they have a split decision on their panel, because I thought that my original audition went fine. 

So I gave it another shot. And this time I got the No Thank you letter. I must confess that I wasn't surprised. I was disappointed, but not really upset. I have heard it said that you choose your drama school as much as it chooses you, and that certain students are simply more suited to some schools more than others. An indication can be the 'vibe' one gets from the place.

I never got a good vibe from LAMDA - on the first or second audition. The school seemed cold to me. The audition process was like being fired out of a cannon. Straight in- on stage in front of the panel with hardly a word spoken and straight out again. This is not the case for everyone - some of my friends have found the complete opposite, getting a warm feeling from there.

As for me- I'm not for LAMDA and LAMDA  isn't for me. I don't think I'll apply to there next year.

And so to recap- the situation as it stands now: 5 schools applied for. 

1) RADA - got recalled but did not get through to the final round.
2) LAMDA - got recalled but did not get though to the final round.
3) CENTRAL - Got final round recalls for both strands but was not offered a place.
4) BRISTOL - Got final round recall and am now on the short list for a place.
5) GUILDHALL- Got final round recall - to be attended in May. post when I get news from Bristol, and then again after the Guildhall recall. 

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School - All Day Recall Workshop - 30th January

And so from one final audition to another. Literally. I left Central and caught the train to Bristol to check into a hotel in eager anticipation for my 9am start the following morning, feeling quite like an actor on tour!

I caught a cab and arrived in good time to do a solid little session of hyper-ventilation, just out of sight of the entrance to the school. Then in I went, to be one of 30 for the day. Bristol receives roughly 2000 applicants, and recalls 300. They see these recalled persons over the course of ten separate all day workshops (of which I was attending the second of ten) - seeing thirty on each day. 10 x 30 = 300. Maths that is. Of these 300 boys and girls they select roughly 20.  13 boys and 7 girls (an imbalance that is a true reflection of the proportion of work out there for men and for women - there's simply more for men- unfair but a fact).

We were divided into three groups of 8 and one group of six. My group was all boys - which seemed to be a rare coincidence. The day was timetabled- Our groups were on a rotation, taking about 8 different 45 minute 'sessions' throughout the course of the day until 6pm, with 45 minutes to eat our packed lunches. The first session was an individual meeting with the head of the course. A fairly quick how d'ye do with a couple of questions about our life, our acting. He also had us briefly sing.

Next we took it in turns to perform our speeches to a panel of 4. This was filmed and strictly timed, a bell going off after 2 minutes were up. I just made it inside the time - the bell going off when I finished my last word! Other sessions included Singing- singing our prepared song each with some exercises to test our pitch etcetera Voice- tongue twisters and cold reading a narrative passage, Improvisation - playing some games and quickly preparing and performing a scripted scene in partners, Movement - a session of hell with an Anne Robinson from the weakest link impersonator, who made our thighs burn until eyes watered with hellish balletic exercises. It was a packed day - full on, tiring, but fun. They certainly put us through our paces.

At the end of the day we were informed that news would come in a letter, saying either No Thank you, or that we are on a short list for a place. Few places would be awarded at these early stages.


I am over the moon with this achievement. News of a place or not could arrive any time in the next couple of months. All I can do is hope with all my heart for now!

Central School of Speech and Drama- Final Recalls - End of January.

As I may have already discussed, Central is unlike many other drama schools in that it hosts two full size strands of drama students within their overall Acting course. Each strand studies much of the same things and has the same experience of learning, however at various points they break off and specialise in slightly different areas of acting. I'm sure that there are numerous differences, but in the simplest way it is like this: 

'Collaborative and Devised Theatre' has a focus on creation. Making your own work, and having the industry skills to build your own artistic platform (e.g. your own theatre company) to perform from. 'Acting for Stage and Screen' is a more conventional approach with a focus on all methods of acting, especially for the screen. 

When you first audition they can tell which strand you may be suited for, (who knows how?) I was recalled for both strands, and so was invited to attend two separate 'Final Recall Mornings'. This seemed like a bonus- because a larger number of places were potentially still available

The first recall was for Acting for Stage and Screen. Roughly thirty students gathered in the foyer, half boys and half girls. Your typical bright eyed and bushy tailed folks. When the time came we were ushered into a large rehearsal room and were taken for a voice and a movement warm up. Standard exercises to loosen up and get centred.

Then came some drama work – group improvisations. We split in half and had a few minutes to plan a group improv. – one group set in an airport waiting room, the other in an Emergency Room. Certain events had to get ticked off, for example, two strangers had to realise that they shared a connection and at the end someone got some news on the phone that effected the whole group.

The scene played out. I adopted a character that was a little too forced- a man in great pain with little patience. I believe that this was an exercise in subtlety- to be there and exist naturally, but not to show any acting.

The meat of the audition was getting each person up on stage to work with the panel through their speeches. Everyone else observed from chairs lining the two sides of the room. This was a time consuming business with a lot of people to get through. To keep everyone involved the panel called people up to play out various roles to try to elicit a certain response from the person being primarily observed. (This method also allowed the panel to observe the actors in a supporting role).

I eagerly volunteered to help out whenever help was needed and did my best to focus on the direction given and on existing in the moment of the action being played. For my turn I did my Monticelso ‘Shall I expound whore’ speech. To assist me the head of the panel got a number of women up to pose erotically to provide me with focus for my scorn of whores. It was very fun to do!

At the end of the session we were asked to write a play review, which I duly did and handed it in. Job done. I was out by 1pm, having got there at 9.

Two days later was the 'Collaborative and Devised Theatre' morning recall. Same number of people (only one girl from the previous recall day) and we were led to the same room. The panel was different of course. Another opening with some exercise- fun and light hearted – like a skipping rope, which we all jumped through – easy enough – if you have a good sense of timing! I felt comfortable with this panel and had a good time with their exercises. Once warmed up we each took turns to present our ‘Two minute self-devised showing, based on one of three images that we had all been emailed.

I had never prepared such a piece before and took advice from a couple of friends accordingly. It went to plan when I presented it. The brief was as follows: ; ‘You are encouraged to use movement and voice and to work in a dynamic and expressive way. Use this exercise to introduce us to your individual creative choices – we want to see how you express yourself through your work.’

The pieces were wonderfully creative and varied – it was great to see the talent on show and the unusual responses that people had made to such a task. Afterwards we were individually called in to show the panel some speech work and present a review of a play – either spoken or written. Overall I felt that the audition went well.

The results:  a week or so later I got news that I was not going to be offered a place for either strand. This was disappointing as I sensed that I had come far to get to those final stages. I wrote requesting feedback and got these following responses.

For Acting for Stage and Screen:

 It was generally felt that your work was interesting, and you were discussed at length. In the end the panel were concerned about your tendency to perform the moment rather than experiencing it - a slightly presentational quality which we felt would be difficult to shift. Actor training is a lot about returning to basics, and much of what we look for in audition is 'heart', vulnerability and the willingness to work from self, rather than something polished or well-presented. We also look for clear ability to shift through directorial notes, and to be prepared to throw everything away and start again.

And for Collaborative and Devised:

You did some lovely work in the audition. We like more mature applicants and felt that you were well prepared. Your devised piece was well constructed and you made bold and appropriate choices. The panel felt you had had good focus and really worked from the painting. However, physically you seem a bit tense and locked and this doesn't help your expressive ability. In the improvisation work you were open but we noted a tendency to force rather than letting things arrive - so you were externally engaged physically but weren't connecting the inner feelings with the outer expression. Your pieces were well prepared but were a little rigid / fixed. You didn't demonstrate a great ability to shift and we questioned your ability to access vulnerability. This goes back to the question of emotional truth - which wasn't really accessed in your work. Sometimes when a candidate has had a certain amount of training or experience elsewhere their work can become a little rigid and a panel will question whether you can benefit from further training or whether we will be able to unlock your patterns: this is what we felt in your case. In addition, you seemed more suited to the stage and screen pathway.

So…some invaluable, if a little scary feedback. I feel happy to have my flaws so concisely identified (as some were in both letters!) This allows me to have clear goals when improving my technique. Plenty of food for thought.

The Latest


Here is a breakdown of the situation as it stands now in March. I should have updated some time ago so this will be a long one!

News items are as follows:

1) What happened in my Central final round recalls - for both drama strands - 'Collaborative and Devised Theatre' and 'Acting for Stage and Screen'.

2) What happened on my final recall day for Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

3) What happened in my recall at LAMDA.

For ease of reading I will break each one up into a separate post.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Guildhall and more news

First and foremost - the story of Guildhall - School for Music and Drama

Situated adjacent and conjoining with the Barbican. I arrived early and sat around and did some stretches. I was in a positive frame of mind- I wonder if I was marginally less nervous that the first couple of auditions that I went to? Perhaps this is getting a little easier with practice.

Signs directed me to a certain room within the school where three lovely second year students were waiting - on hand to assist for the entire session. We gathered in this room - about ten in all, but I gathered that a few were missing due to the snow. Once we all registered we were led to the adjoining room where the panel of two were waiting. They gave us a little speech and then led us in a group warm up. All very friendly -getting us relaxed and in the mood. One of the exercises for example was to make the number 13 or the letter W - so we organised ourselves on the floor without speaking.

Then we were all back into our own room with the students (who were very very friendly and decent) and called one by one to the panel. To my relief I was up first and was accompanied in with one of the students, my buddy. They took in my speeches and directed me to drop any previous work that I had done and be as natural and as 'me' as possible. The emphasis was on putting the focus on the person I was talking to and what I was trying to persuade them towards -this would free myself from any kind of acting for 'show'.

They saw all 3 speeches, didn't ask to have me sing and then sat me down for a chat. All very good I thought and left to join the others and watch them go up one by one for the same treatment as we all had a lovely chat. After everyone was seen the panel came into our room to deliver the news of who was to be asked for a recall.

"Sometimes we recall 5 people, sometime 0. Please understand that we are not only looking at skill and talent but also the suitability of you for our particular course. Today we will only be recalling one person..."

And they read my name. the day and a half final recall is in May sometime. Excellent.

Further news:

Email received today from Central...they are recalling me on both acting strands- final recall, the week after next. In the same week I will also be doing my final recall at Bristol. And the week after is my 'second first audition' at LAMDA.

So to recap - 4 schools in the round recalls for 3/4. Its all to play for. Next update after LAMDA, BRISTOL+ CENTRAL have occurred. Fingers crossed and back to work for me!