Aine O'neill-Mason is a current student of Acting at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She looks back to when she was a prospective student and tells us some top tips that helped her determine the monologues she chose to use, how to turn audition day nerves into confidence, and personal statement guidance.
Applying for drama school is a really exciting experience but can also be very daunting at the same time. You put so much pressure onto yourself because the truth is, everyone who is auditioning is desperate for a place. The best advice I can give you is to not stress yourself out, everyone on the audition panel wants you to be good, they’re on your side. So, relax, try to enjoy the process and use every audition as a learning experience. Make sure the monologues you’re picking really represent what you can bring to the drama school. Every year there are many, many applicants so you need to walk into that room, show them who you are and what is unique about you that this drama school needs.
When writing your personal statement, don’t stick with the cliches of why you want to be an actor, most people will have been dreaming about it since they were a child. Instead, use it to let your personality shine through, tell them what specifically interests you about acting, why would going to drama school benefit you, what type of career would you like to have in the industry? It’s your opportunity to let them know why you actually want to be an actor and why you’re right for this career path. Again, don’t put too much pressure on this, the important part of the application process is what happens in the audition room. This is why you need to be prepared. There is too much competition for you to half-heartedly know your lines; your biggest tool will be knowing them so well you don’t even have to think about them. You may be redirected, asked to go back to a certain section or even put the monologue in a completely different setting so the last thing you want to be worrying about is whether you will actually say the correct words. After every audition take some time to reflect on what you think went well and what you thought didn’t go so well, this should help you going into your next auditions.
I would highly recommend a book called ‘In Depth Acting’ by Dee Cannon to anyone auditioning. The book covers preparation for drama school auditions and also gives a guide to the Stanislavsky technique, developing a three-dimensional, truthful character and preparation exercises to help you get into character. It is always good to be well-read and to have an idea of what you will begin exploring when you start your training, so this book is a great place to start.
I would strongly recommend avoiding YouTube videos of other people’s auditions, you don’t want this to influence how you would perform your monologue. Instead, actively watch series, films and theatre being produced at the minute. Due to the current global situation theatre is now widely available online, use this to your advantage, watch as much as possible and start forming opinions on what you are watching. National Theatre Live is a fantastic place to start and there will be some actors in there you know but have never seen in perform within theatre before.
My final piece of advice would be that nerves are normal, use them to fuel you rather than allowing them to take over on the day. Enjoy the process as much as you possibly can and don’t be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t happen for you this time around. Try not to take any rejections too personally, there are a lot of reasons out of your control as to why you may not get excepted this year. People really do audition for drama school more than once (I was one of those people); it will happen when the time is right for you. If being an actor is what you really want you will have to keep fighting for it. The whole way through the auditioning process you need to remember why you’ve chosen to do this, all the stress and pressure you’re feeling now will be worth it in the end, I promise.
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