Acting Open Day

Acting Open Day

Saturday 25 November, 9am – 3pm (Undergraduate)

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Auditions and Interviews

Birmingham School of Acting

What sort of pieces should I choose for my audition?

You need to find pieces that you like and to which you can relate emotionally and intellectually. Look for characters and speeches that reflect your experience of the world. Do not attempt to undertake ‘disguise’ acting by choosing something that requires a funny walk, strange voice or to be someone who is years older than you.

Can I cut a monologue together from a scene, omitting other character’s lines?

Yes, so long as the edited version makes sense. There is no such thing as a monologue – what you hear in soliloquy is always one half of a dialogue, either with yourself or someone else. If you choose this option, do not cut together lines from different scenes because the text will not make sense and always acknowledge the ‘other’ person.

Could I choose a piece from a monologue anthology book?

Not really. Monologue books are useful for helping people who do not have a broad knowledge of repertoire to begin to look for ideas.

However, there is a danger that you will find a speech in a monologue book, learn it, and study no further. Many books have American pieces, the full text of which cannot be acquired in the UK, and some of these are purpose-written audition speeches. The other danger with American pieces is that they are culturally outside the experience of many of the applicants.

Another problem is that many of the speeches in monologue books are very well known. You must select a speech from a full play that has been published, and it is vital you have read the whole play to understand context and allow that knowledge to inform the work which you are doing.

Can I perform a poem as part of my audition?

Not really. Few poems give you the scope to explore a character and his emotional journey in the same way as play text does.

Are there some timeworn pieces that one should avoid?

Yes – especially in the classical range and some pieces from audition books. Always avoid material like Victoria Wood monologues, Alan Bennett’s ‘Talking Heads’ or pieces that are identified with celebrated performances.

Can I choose a piece from a television or film script?

We normally advise that it is best to avoid using a screenplay. There are so many factors that influence screen writing that often a text, which seemed amazing in situ, just doesn’t work when taken out of context. Particularly avoid any pieces that are strongly identified with an actor or performance: Keyser Söze from the ‘The Usual Suspects’, for instance.

How long do my audition pieces need to be?

No more than two minutes – and ideally somewhere between 1 minute 40 and 1 minute 50 seconds. You will be stopped if you go over two minutes. However, it is the first 10 seconds that will really need to grab the panel’s attention.

Do not get hung up on the idea that your audition speech needs to tell the whole story of the play. A good speech will enable you to give a real insight into a moment in the character’s life.

Can I perform a piece with an accent at my audition?

Yes – but only if you are fluent in the accent, if it is your native accent or you speak it like a native and it is appropriate to the character. If it is none of these and it is potentially distracting or likely to disguise you or obscure your real voice, then don’t do it. Also remember that Received Pronunciation (RP), also known as Standard English, is a 19th century invention. It did not exist when Shakespeare wrote his plays. If in doubt, do the classical speech in your own voice, not RP.

Will furniture be available in the audition room?

A table and chair will be available in each audition room. However, it is important to remember that if you have an unseen person in a chair, do not put the empty chair in the middle of the stage, otherwise the scene will become a scene about an empty chair.

What about props?

Unless a prop is absolutely essential – a letter, or a ring – then do not bother. If you do think a prop is needed, bring it with you and ensure you are thoroughly familiar with it. Do not bring a whole suitcase of bits and pieces with you. We are interested in seeing you, not how you juggle utensils retrieved from the loft.

What about costume?

An indication of costume, such as appropriate shoes, shirt or skirt, to assist you is fine. But what is more important is whether or not you can connect to the character and tell us their story. Whatever you wear should be comfortable and supportive of your work. Think about the style and weight of your shoes; fashion heels are not suitable.

What level of dance ability to I need to demonstrate?

You are not required to have any particular level of attainment as a dancer. However, we look to see if you to have an ability to be trained in free and co-ordinated movement with a good neutral posture. This potential is assessed in the workshop element of the recall audition.

Will I get feedback after the audition?

After your first audition you will receive short, constructive, verbal feedback comments from the audition panel. They may discuss their ideas about your choice of pieces and may make suggestions about how they can be improved or how they feel that you should proceed. During the recall audition you will receive a voice assessment. No further discussion will take place as to why you may, or may not, have been offered a place.

How good a singer do I need to be?

At audition we look at your ability to communicate through text, whether it be spoken (verse, the heightened language of comedy of manners, or contemporary text) or sung.

Do not worry about lack of experience: many people come to us having never sung before and discover that they have a wonderful voice. What matters is that you can tell the story, reveal the character and inhabit the language.

Do I need any UCAS points?

Yes, we require that you have 64 UCAS points as well as asking you to audition. Some drama schools ask for more points, others no points at all. We are in the middle; but our main criteria, as for all drama schools, is your audition. If you are unsure how many UCAS point you have, work it out using the UCAS points calculator.