Katy continues her series on the highs and lows of her second year of drama school applications. Read the first post here. In this post, she recounts her first round audition at LAMDA.
I took the train from Oxford to Paddington and then got the tube to Baron’s Court, which is just around the corner from LAMDA. I arrived a few hours early to meet a friend of mine who goes to UCL. Putting as much work into your audition speeches as you can is important, but by that point I was as ready as I was ever going to be. I hate waiting around just thinking about the audition to come, so meeting with my friend was a lovely way to get out of myself and forget about the nerves for a bit. We had lunch, chatted, and then she walked me to the building. I auditioned for LAMDA last year and have a vague memory of arriving early, waiting an hour to go in, not talking to anyone, and getting increasingly tense. I preferred this alternative.
Waiting to audition:
My impression of LAMDA, this year and last, was a nice one. The staff and the students who showed me around were lovely and gave interested only in giving us all the best chance to smash our auditions.
There were two rooms set up. One was for warming up and the other for just waiting. This, as a graduate explained, was because different people need different things before their audition. Some, like me, prefer to relax and trust they know their monologues enough already and others prefer to rehearse right up until they’re called in. In our room we talked, played some hangman, and eventually got led through to sit outside the audition rooms. We filled the rest of the time with more (quiet) conversation until they called us in individually.
The audition itself:
The panel of judges (just two, both male) were less friendly than everyone else I met. They introduced themselves, told me the space I could use and asked for the order of my monologues. They also said I shouldn’t direct my speeches directly to them, which threw me. I speak to the audience in both my monologues, but this was fine so long as I didn’t pinpoint either of them. Quick tip to the poor sighted of you – don’t wear contacts or glasses during your audition. It meant it didn’t matter if the judges looked at me or wrote anything down; I couldn’t look directly at them even if I wanted.
I chose to do my classical monologue first, to get it out of the way. I’ve used my modern for several auditions, and wanted to end on a high, but in the end the classical was better. I left disappointed. Plus, back to the unfriendly judges, they were very deadpan. No laughter, which I’m used to for my modern, and the lack of reaction to feed off affected my performance.
After that there was what they’d referred to in the email as an ‘interview’. It was more of an informal chat, with a couple of graduates who had my application in front of them. They asked what I’d done since my last audition and I told them my reasons for leaving university. I also told them about a few things acting-wise I’d done to keep busy. It was only after I left I realised I hand’t mentioned the show we took to the Fringe last summer! I could have kicked myself. It’s one of the achievements I can talk at length about, but oh well. I did the best I could and put it all down to practice.
As I write this, I have (just!) received my rejection from LAMDA. I wasn’t surprised. Still, the disappointment when I saw the word “unfortunately” remained, no matter how prepared I was. It took three weeks for LAMDA to get back to me; in a way I’m glad it took so long. My auditions were close together, so I went into the next few not knowing if I was through or not. If I knew I hadn’t gotten in, it would have made me lose confidence in my monologues.
LAMDA doesn’t offer feedback on first-round auditions, which is a massive shame. I have spoken before about the expense of auditioning for drama school. This seems even more of a waste when you aren’t given anything constructive to improve on in future. When auditioning you hear stories about those who only got into drama school on their fourth, fifth or sixth try; but it’s hard to keep morale up when you have nothing to work with.
On the plus side, I managed to enjoy the LAMDA audition. My performance wasn’t the best, but the practice set me up nicely for my Oxford audition. More details on that in my next post.