1. Break It Down
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of different drama schools, acting teachers, all those names, dates and all the advice thrown at you. On top of that there’s paperwork that needs to be done and auditions to be attended. The easiest way to approach this is to break it down into smaller parts.
Since the whole application to drama school process consists of only two parts — paperwork and audition — here is how you do it:
- Application deadlines
- Personal statement
- Application forms
- Important information
- What to choose
- Length of the monologue
- Preparing your monologue
Will there be deadlines?
Every single drama school has its own deadline. This means that when you decide to apply to drama school, you absolutely need to be aware of these dates.
Due to the fact that every school is independent from the general system, different schools’ deadlines could be very far apart from each other. But not to worry! All you have to do is email or call every drama school you’re applying to and find out the exact date. Write it down so you don’t forget and make sure you don’t apply on the very last day.
Is personal statement important?
Yes. This piece of autobiographical essay will come to be a very important part when you apply to drama school.
Many students find it difficult to write an ideal personal statement, which means an early start is necessary. I suggest you visit TheStudentRoom for some advice on how to accomplish this task. Write and rewrite the whole thing many times; check and revise again and again. Give it to your friends and family, ask them to be merciless.
Are application forms complicated?
No. There is nothing special about the application forms for a position in a drama school.
They are made up of standard questions that any fourth grader would be able to answer. You just need to make sure that your grammar is in check, everything looks neat and clean, and the information provided is correct. Don’t be sloppy — you’re applying for higher education; show off the best of you.
Furthermore, make sure to hold onto your application forms until your audition monologues and songs are rehearsed and ready. Some schools might invite you on a very short notice and you don’t want to show up there unprepared.
3. Audition Monologues
Learning and performing monologues is part of every drama school student’s life, so you might as well start getting used to it now.
When you apply to drama school, you have to put in a lot of thought and heart into your monologue as an audition speech of choice. Read the whole play many times; research it, study your character and the scene.
This speech has to be well staged and acted. As an actor, you have to be completely certain that you’re going to do a good job because you had plenty of time to find and prepare a monologue. There is no room for uncertainty here.
Remember: if anything is unclear to you, never hesitate to call or email that school you’re applying to. Ask them what exactly do they want, can it be either monologue or dialogue, do they need anything else, do you need to bring a partner and so on. It never hurts to ask and they will ALWAYS be happy to support you.
What to choose?
Choosing a great audition speech, be it a monologue or a dialogue, isn’t easy most of the time. This procedure can quickly turn into a very time consuming thing.
In order to shoot and not miss, you have to read a lot of plays. Read them on a daily basis and you’ll find something that you’ll fall in love with. It’s about how well you understand the character, the plot and how accurately it fits your type.
Here are two important pieces of advice for you.
Never go for one of those “Once more unto the breach” famous speeches.
First, it’s a boring choice because a lot of students who are lazy to do enough research pick the easily accessible ones. Second, tutors who will be auditing you will have most likely seen those speeches performed by the best of the best, and you don’t really want to be compared to Laurence Olivier’s performance on your first day at the school, right?
Do not write your own speech for a drama school audition, EVER.
Unless you’re an amazing playwright, you will probably mess it up. There’s a reason why most actors work with famous playwrights’ compositions — those people are great at what they do. Just stick to the basics, pick something original and you’ll be fine.
How long should it be?
Your best bet when it comes to length of the monologue is 2-3 minutes at most. It is highly recommended to stick to 2 minutes, and never go over 3 minutes.
The shortest that your audition speech could be is a minute and a half. Take into account that you might deliver your monologue slightly faster on the day of audition because of the nerves. If you believe that might be the case, give your speech another 20-30 seconds, just in case.
How to prepare the monologue?
After you have chosen the speech you’re going to do, read the whole play a 100 times.
Make sure you understand every little detail about it. You need to grasp the essence of your character and what he or she is going through. Ask all the right questions and answer them in your delivery. Do enough research on both — the play and the monologue.
Here’s the thing about nerves: the best way to deal with nervousness when you’re in front of the audition panel is to be 100% confident about what you’re doing. I cannot stress this enough: you have to ENJOY this performance, which in turn will trample your nerves.
When you apply to drama school, the application process itself is very easy. Once the research is done, paperwork is a one day’s job, unless you start a Q&A session with drama school enquiry office.
It will be even easier when you know what to expect, so make sure to study Chapter 2 of the Actor’s Guide. After that, what’s left is plenty of researching and working on your craft and monologues.
By now, you have probably decided that you want to be receiving formal training in the next 3-4 years, so dedicate this time to prepare yourself well. Take this whole “before you even start training” process very seriously — trust me, it will pay off once you’re inside drama school’s walls.