“Advice On How To Audition For Drama School & MPG Theatre”
Read The Play: Do not get speeches out of audition books. Auditioners may ask questions about the play and characters relationships. You will not score highly if you cannot answer accurately.
Know Your Lines: Auditioners will know most speeches word for word; so should you.
Choose Your Character: Consider character age, accent and physical description etc. Don’t play old men if you’re eighteen and always do the speech in your natural accent unless advised otherwise by a voice specialist.
Choose characters that are different from each other to best display your range. (Consider the panel; they see hundreds of speeches each year.
Find a speech/character that is rare.)
3 Minute Rule: Most drama schools hold a time limit. 3 minutes is normally considered about right, 5 is far too long.
Classical: Classical speeches are very important; consider verse/prose and iambic pentameter. (Shakespeare is not the only classical writer) Explore Marlowe, Webster, etc.
Singing A Song: Most auditions include a song. Avoid ballads/pop songs, character songs are best, they tell a story, a song is performed by a character, play that character. (Eye contact with the audience, don’t watch the pianist, take your sheet music printed and taped together side by side)
Movement: Movement auditions are looking for physical expression, not athletic ability; be free and always remember movement is another form of story telling; tell the story with your body.
(Dress as neutrally as possible, all black is recommended, this applies to your speeches, plain clothing, no bright colours.)
Voice Work: Make sure to articulate. Punctuation is there for a reason. Short breaths on commas and longer breathes on full stops. Take your time; an emotional speech is no good if the panel can’t hear what you’re saying.
In The Audition
First 30 Seconds: First impressions are the most important, when entering the room smile, not a cheesy grin but let them know you’re happy to be there.
Basic attitude; if they offer a hand make sure to shake. When spoken to speak clearly and confidently; when asked to take a seat, sit up straight, think of body language. No folded arms or crossed legs, an open body says you are engaged with what is happening and ready to begin work.
Introduce Your Piece: When your name is called out stand in front of the panel and make eye contact with the whole panel and say good morning/afternoon. Introduce your piece, the play, the writer and who you will be playing.
(You don’t need to tell them Shakespeare wrote Macbeth.)
Grab A Partner: Some schools will not allow this however it never hurts to ask; performing your piece with another person gives you a point of focus so that you’re not staring into space. It also demonstrates that you are a team player and work well with others. (Always volunteer if another person needs someone with your characteristics, it re-enforces the previous point). If the school does not allow a partner aim your speech six inches above the panels head, this shows your face and does not make the panel uncomfortable.
Take Ten Seconds: Before beginning your speech take a moment to calm your last minute nerves and think about your character, not your lines, Your Character. Thinking about your lines at this late stage will throw you, breath in deeply; then begin.
Audition Panels Take Notes: This is something that some people forget; good or bad audition panels take notes. As an actor in character you cannot afford to be distracted by this or anything else. It is out of your hands now so just do your best.
Stay in character: This is essential; ever actor has gone blank on stage and forgotten their lines. The actor’s core skill is being able to find a way out of the situation they find themselves in. Most people will only spot a mistake if you show them. Change your stage position/ make lines up/ jump to another section or as a last resort end your speech early. No matter what; stay in character!
Finishing Your Speech: As with coming into the speech panels don’t want to see you suddenly come back to yourself. When the speech is over, look down to the floor take a moment then raise your head, don’t smile. Just nod and thank the panel, acknowledging everyone. Then retake your seat.
Improvisation: Any actor worth his weight in gold can improvise on the spot and take direction. As part of an audition you may be asked to play your character with different motivations, you can only do so much to be prepared for this, try blocking your piece’s movement in different ways so as not to get stuck in a rhythm. Get other actors you know to offer different suggestions to play your character in rehearsal eg, an Essex car salesman, a rapper or whatever you can think of. The more ridiculous the better, throw yourself into the direction with commitment, this is not a test of your ability more your bravery and willingness to try new things.
Interview: If your speech was successful then you may be asked for a quick interview. Most likely subjects will be “What will you do if you are unsuccessful?” and questions about your character and speech choices. You need to be prepared for this, have as many answers ready or a clear idea before you attend the audition. Don’t answer the “What if your unsuccessful question” with “Try again next year”. Tell them how you plan to better yourself before returning. It shows drive and commitment towards your career.