Many of today’s greatest and most talented actors have gone through drama school’s training programs. British actors that have trained at some of the best UK drama schools today are revered by the audience, critics and directors alike. So it’s only natural to include drama school training as the first step to launching your acting career.
However, the rumors are true – getting into a reputable drama school like RADA, LAMDA or Guildhall is not easy and it takes a lot of smart planning, determination, hard work and some talent.
For more acting training options, see 2017 London Acting Training Directory.
Places in drama schools like RADA are very limited and the number of applicants each year is in thousands (from all over the world), thus the competition is high.
For you to have a chance to get accepted, it’s imperative you give yourself a fighting chance by being as prepared as possible. The audition process can vary from school to school. Some schools hold auditions only over the course of a day and others will do up to five rounds of recalls.
What’s the drama school application/audition process like?
As noted above, there are several stages to getting accepted into a drama school. Here’s how this goes:
- 1. Submit your application and personal statement. If considered, you:
- 2. Get invited for your first audition and the interview. If done well, you:
- 3. Get invited for a second audition (recall). If done well, you:
- 4. Get invited to do one or two workshops, and another audition. If done well, you:
- 5. Get a place to study in a drama school for the next 3 years.
As you can see, for the most reputable, well-known drama schools, the process is not simple and takes multiple steps. Some drama schools will do several workshops plus a third audition to further look at your skills and work ethic, while others may do just the first round of auditions and no workshops. For example, take a look at RADA’s audition process.
If you want to get accepted, it’s important to do well at every one of these stages. However, the most important part of the whole process is #2 – your first audition. And this is what we’re going to focus on in this article and talk how you can nail that first drama school audition.
15 Tips To Nail Your Drama School Audition
1. Research Before Applying to Drama Schools
Spend some time researching as much as you can about the drama school prior to your audition. The school website itself is a good place to start, but also speak to friends and research on social media.
It will give you a good idea if there is anything in particular they look for in candidates (other than the most overused one – talented) and it will also be worthwhile if you manage to speak to anyone who has attended an audition at the drama school, just to give you a rough idea on how they found the experience.
Don’t know where to apply? Take a look at our 2017 Acting Training Directory for more ideas on what drama school, acting classes or drama clubs to attend.
2. Don’t Attend Just One Drama School Audition
As competition is so high and places are very limited it is always a good idea to have a few auditions to attend as this will give you a better chance of getting into one of the schools.
Lots of budding actors audition for a few different schools and if you are lucky enough to be selected for more than one you are in a great position to decide what is best for you.
3. Budget and Plan Accordingly
An audition is not cheap (although it’s not going to break your bank either). There are usually audition fees (ranging from £30 to £150) and you may need to take into account travel and accommodation if your audition is not close to your home.
Book your train or coach tickets in advance. Having all of this arranged and in place before your audition will mean you will have one less stress to worry about on the day.
You will be nervous enough and it will help if you don’t have to worry about your travel tickets or accommodation on the big day.
4. Do Any Paperwork Necessary Before the Audition
Do not leave anything for later, and try to be a professional and good student before you even start studying in a drama school. Get into this habit, because that’s going to be necessary later on.
It is normal procedure that you will have to fill out forms and hand them in at the audition. If it is possible – download them, print them off and fill them in so you can spend your time preparing mentally for your performance rather than have to spend time filling in forms.
5. Get Some Drama Coaching Before the Performance
This can help you a great deal as an acting coach will even be able to help you rehearse and prepare your performance before you do the audition itself. Even just an hour session with an acting coach will be of some benefit to you.
A good acting coach will be able to advise you on how to make your performance stronger and give you tips. It will also be good practise for you to do your performance in front of a critical eye. You can find a list of some good London acting coaches here.
Some drama coaching is especially useful if you have not had much experience in acting and most aspiring actors make use of private drama/acting coaching, no matter where they are in their careers. In fact, even famous A-list actors still take private acting coaching sessions.
Coaching is expensive, however, and will only give you an hour of work (unless you pay more). Alternatively, you can explore acting classes and take them in the evenings or weekends for weeks or months before going to your drama school audition. Check our Acting School Directory to find tons of acting classes in London.
6. Choose a Monologue That Works for You
Most drama schools, but not all, will ask you to perform a classical Shakespearian piece and a contemporary piece. Make sure that you choose monologues that you connect with and completely understand.
If you don’t understand the words you are going to speak, how can you expect the people you are performing in front of to understand what you are portraying? If you are not an avid Shakespeare fan, do some research and choose one of his characters that are similar to you in thoughts, age or sex, for example.
Then find resources to do a translation of the monologue you have chosen so you know exactly what the words mean. Study it as much as possible so you know the whole play in and out.
As for the modern/contemporary monologue piece, it means just that. Contemporary. So don’t choose something that is 50 years old and again, make sure you can connect to the character and understand the dialogue you are going to perform. Usually, these are easier for drama school applicants.
7. Read the Whole Play (don’t just learn your chosen monologue)
Again, this can’t be stressed enough. Don’t just choose a piece to recite from one act that you know well. You must read the whole play to make sure you know what your character is doing, feeling and thinking during the words you recite.
The drama school audition panel may even ask you questions about the play and not knowing the answers or not having an opinion will make you look sloppy and not dedicated to your craft. Study this play like you’re preparing for a math exam (which it essentially is, in a way).
This should go without saying – you’ll need to prepare well. This is clearly important and something that you start working on as soon as you have planned what monologue you will be using.
Rehearse as often as you can and if possible, get some feedback from other acting friends. This is the time to make mistakes and improve, experiment and fail, to ensure you are as ready as possible for when you do your performance in front the people who will make you nervous.
9. Give Some Thought to Your Performance
Firstly, plan when and how you are going to ‘start’ your performance. By this we mean don’t launch into your dialogue straight away. Make sure you absorb your audience first so they can come on a journey with your character. However, don’t dilly dally – just take enough time to calm your nervous and accept the imaginary circumstance you’re in.
Think about what your character is doing before he/she speaks. How is s/he feeling? What movements is s/he doing before s/he speaks and during the monologue? Just standing there and appearing like you are ‘going through the motions’ will not make you that memorable or stand you out from the others auditioning.
10. Use Your Own Dialect
Whatever you do, don’t try to speak in another dialect unless you are 100% confident you can do so perfectly. Anything short of doing a perfect accent is not good and will not work in your favor.
Speaking in a dialect that is not your own can often sound really fake or at worst, sound silly and take away from your whole performance. The panel will also be looking to see you in the performance as well as see the character. As a standard rule, I’d say forget the accent and just speak in your natural dialect. Focus on performance.
11. Think of Your Performance As a Two-minute Play
If you can imagine that you are carrying out a two-minute play, it will enable you to change gears, so to speak.
When you’re doing a drama school audition, you are putting on a show and your show has to have changes of mood, tone, pace and atmosphere. Change is crucial, even in a two-minute show.
12. Imagine Other Characters Are There As Well
No matter what monologue you have decided to do, you are probably connecting with other characters, whether they are in the scene with you or not. Unless you picked a play that’s a one-man show (which is not recommended), you need to be aware of the characters that exist in your world.
It all comes back to understand the whole play and putting yourself into the imaginary circumstances. This way you will create a world for your character. Your character is not the whole focus of the monologue and the other person should be constantly involved with you as well in some way.
13. End your monologue well
Sometimes actors come out of character too quickly and abruptly which can show you have not engaged with the character if you can disengage in seconds. Avoid looking fake; avoid “acting.”
Normally, drama school auditions are allowed up to 2-3 minutes per monologue, so you can use that time. Stay in character for a few moments afterwards until you are settled and come out of character naturally.
14. Bring Yourself
You will most likely be interviewed by the panel as well so let them see the real you. Don’t try to put on a mask, and don’t try to be “the next greatest eccentric actor.” Just be yourself.
The panel will want to engage with you as a person who has goals and who wants to join a drama school. They want to find out some of your likes and dislikes, and get an idea of the type of person you are because you’ll be working with plenty of other people.
15. Don’t Expect an Acceptance or Rejection Straight Away
Depending on the school, it is unlikely you will hear on the same day whether you have been accepted, invited back for another audition or rejected. This process can sometimes take a week or more depending on how many auditions the school are dealing with.
But remember, knockbacks are an everyday occurrence for actors and if you are rejected try not to see it as a reflection on your talent. Just dust yourself down and proceed to the next audition.
16. Take Chances
Just don’t be another brick in the wall.