*as told by a university dropout who managed to miss the UCAS deadline:
So first, a little context for you all. In September 2016 I started a degree in English Literature and Russian Studies at the University of Edinburgh. As time wore on I gave the course my all and even got good marks, but I found myself resenting my studies more and more. I missed drama and, when I look back, I have no idea why I didn’t focus on drama originally. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?
I gave myself until Christmas to make the final decision, because I wanted to give university a chance. I’m glad I did. I grew to love the place, the people and the independence; my feelings on the course, however, remained the same. Leaving it so late meant I missed the UCAS deadline, but ultimately saved my bank account, (auditions are expensive), and my sanity, (auditions are exhausting). Travel, monologue practice, and settling back into life at home are quite enough to go along with, let alone the five extra auditions that UCAS would have given me the chance to plant on top.
There were five drama schools I could apply to outside of UCAS: LAMDA, RADA, Mountview, Oxford School of Drama and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. This blog post, and the next few to come, are written retrospectively. Nevertheless, I hope they give readers an insight into the audition processes of these drama schools.
My first bit of advice to those of you who apply to these schools in the future – don’t think because the applications aren’t made through UCAS that there won’t be a mountain of paperwork to wade through. The worst of these was Bristol Old Vic, for which you have to write a personal statement, give references and attach a CV. Not something you want to do the night before the deadline, and trust me I know. RADA was next worst, as it had to be handwritten and posted in time for the deadline (in addition to costing a whopping £86!)
RADA was the most expensive place to apply, but the cost to audition averaged about £50 at any one place. Yes there are audition fee waivers available to those from low-income households, but even then the cost of travel and accommodation mount up. Fortunately I had friends to crash with near every drama school, and that the furthest journey I made was from Oxford to Bristol. Sadly, however, the price of auditioning is a real consideration to make when applying. Perhaps it shouldn’t be, but that’s a post for some other time.
Another piece of advice is apply as early as you can. It costs less, since there are early bird deadlines for most places, and also means you can stagger your applications. The schools I applied to let me write when I was unavailable to audition, but submitting all my applications simultaneously gave no guarantee that the dates each place offered to audition wouldn’t clash. Luckily I didn’t hit any scheduling problems, but I would have saved a lot of anxiety if I applied earlier.
Choosing your monologues is a lengthy process, especially when there are different rules for what you need in each audition. In general, places asked for one classical and one modern piece. RADA also wanted a backup classical and Bristol Old Vic wanted a short, unaccompanied song. Shakespeare is acceptable for classical wherever you go and some places were also happy with another Jacobean or Elizabethan playwright (think Marlowe, Johnson or Webster). The requirement for the modern piece varied from something written within the last 100 years to the last 40.
The monologues I chose were Martha’s from Charge by Eric Kaiser, and Helena’s “Lo, she is one of this confederacy” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Benedick’s “This can be no trick” from Much Ado About Nothing was my classical back-up. I went for these monologues because they excited me. There were clear and interesting ways I could relate to the characters,and I wanted this element of reality to come across to the panel. It sounds strange to say it’s less about how much you can “act” a character in an audition and more about communicating a truth, but that’s why so many places ask you to stick to your own gender, age and accent. Keep in mind, too, that most places will ask you why you chose your monologues during my audition, so have an answer ready!
And there you have it. My first blog post done. I hope it proves useful to some of you. The next one will focus on my first audition, at LAMDA, so keep an eye out. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, something you want to point out or, well, anything really!