Katy continues her series on the highs and lows of her second year of drama school applications. Read the last post here. In this post, she recounts her first and second round Oxford School of Drama auditions.
I live in Oxford, but have never been to OSD; the school isn’t in Oxford itself, but Woodstock. The day I went was gorgeous and sunny, so we got to see all the converted farmhouses, barns and brand-new lawns in their full glory. I didn’t audition at OSD last year, but throughout the day I got to like it more and more. They have three courses – a six month, one year, and three year – and their collective intake for all those combined was 80 students last year from a massive 3,000 who applied. So, yeah, competitive to say the least!
They have a school bus from the city centre to Woodstock, which was nice because I got to meet some of the people I was about to spend the day with. The beautiful weather was out of my control, but it made a definite difference to my mood. They had warned the buildings can be draughty when it’s cold.
OSD combines their first and second round auditions into one day. First was a physical warm-up. We stretched to music, led by one of the judges and then we were told to imagine a bouncy ball. We held it, balanced on it and used it to physicalize ‘fire’ and then ‘water’. After this, they played us two pieces of music and told to express it through our bodies. The best thing to do hear was just forget the people around you. Halfway through I had a sudden moment of self-awareness; the Peep Show episode where Mark and Sophie visit Rainbow Rhythms comes to mind…
They split us into groups of eight to ten to do our monologues. This was the first audition I’ve been to where we had a mini-audience of other auditionees to see our monologues (and I saw all theirs). I liked having an audience to perform to, and I felt both my monologues went well; a lot better than for LAMDA. The acoustics of the space were echoey and I could hear my voice around me. It’s difficult to describe, but it helped me get more involved in my speeches.
After that there was a lot of waiting. This was probably the hardest bit about the OSD audition process. In the hours between the first round and the results, I spoke to the other auditionees and even someone on the OSD foundation course who I met at the Mountview audition last year! Small world. In a few blog posts I’ve read, people complain how the audition process is geared towards those who’ve studied at the drama school before. That wasn’t my impression of OSD. There was hardly any acknowledgement that the tutors on the panel knew any of the foundation course students and there was no skipping of rounds like they do at other places.
Round 1 Result:
At 1:45pm the admissions administrator came and split us into two groups. I went to the dance studio with my group. Some minutes passed, but eventually the principal came in to tell us that we were through to the next round! This was a huge moment for me. It was the first time I had ever gotten further than the initial stage of drama school auditions, and something I didn’t expect.
The principal sat with us for a quarter of an hour and let us ask any questions we had. I loved the way he portrayed the ethos of the school and their teaching; they’re not trying to stamp out ready-made actors, but teach their students how to explore truth in their performances. The more I heard the better a place it sounded.
The afternoon didn’t go so well. We started with a few improvisation games. In the first, we imagined we all knew each other well and had gone down to Brighton for someone’s birthday. One of the judges described the coast to us –stones, sand, then shallow water which got deeper and deeper. We ‘ran’ into the ‘sea’ in various ways – interacting with other auditionees, not, using sound, not, etc. etc. Then we were put into pairs and each got given a line, something like “Are you coming?” and “Why would I?” which we used to create scenes. I don’t think I did as well as I could have here. It felt like a very long time since I’d done improvisation and the last time was with a group I knew well from our Fringe show last year. It wasn’t awful, but not amazing either.
Finally, we were each given the same piece of sight reading, a short piece OSD itself had created. My performance was a more sarcastic interpretation and when it got to the words ‘I love you’ I wanted it to be a realisation for the character. One of the judges asked for the story and my thinking behind my performance, and then redirected me. He got me to imagine the piece as though I had done something to hurt the partner I was addressing, and to imagine that the ‘I love you’ was a desperate attempt to make them stay.
After the sight-reading, I spoke with the judges. I explained I dropped out of uni and told them I had applied for the foundation course as well as the BA to build up my confidence. One of the judges was so kind, a lot kinder than I expected. She told me she dropped out when she was younger, but that although you might take breaks from acting that doesn’t mean you take a break from life. Very wise words and though I’d already reached that conclusion already, it was nice feeling so affirmed.
The OSD audition showed me that when it comes to certain things – improvisation one of those – I’m still a bit too tense and self-aware. I hope that a foundation course would get that out of me, or at least help the process along a bit! I left the audition tired, but happy. The admissions administrator ordered us taxis back to Oxford and that night I got the train to London for my RADA audition the next day!
It took a week for my letter from OSD to arrive. I didn’t get through to the next round of auditions. I did, however, get put on the waiting list for the Foundation Course! They can’t offer all their places for courses until they’ve auditioned everyone, so it will be a while until I find out if I definitely have a place. Fingers crossed!