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  • 14.10.2016

    Dear West End Producer: ‘How do you select an audition piece for drama school that shows everything in three minutes or less?’

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      by @WestEndProducer - Oct 14, 2016


      A common misconception when auditioning for drama school is that you have to cram all of your talent into one little speech. This is a mistake.

      If you approach a speech or a song with the intention of just showing how good you are, then you won’t be doing a service to the material, and the speech won’t work. The most important thing when doing any monologue or song is that you play the truth of the situation, and play your character’s thoughts and actions.

      When approaching audition speeches, you should treat them like you are doing the entire play. Firstly, and obviously, read the play that the speech is taken from. You’d be surprised at the number of people who turn up having only read the speech and have no idea what the rest of the play is about, and consequently have no idea what their lines mean. At which point the panel lose interest and revert to drinking gin.

      You should choose a speech or song that is relatively close to your age and that you can imagine yourself playing – this shows you have thought about your casting, and will make everything you do a lot more believable. I’ll never forget auditioning a 16-year-old who totally ignored this rule and came in auditioning as Gandalf. It wouldn’t have been so bad but he stuck on a fake beard, wore a big robe, and kept shouting “thou shalt not pass” at the current students. Bless.

      You must also apply the same thoughts to a song – know why you are singing it, and who you are singing it to. Every good musical theatre song helps move the story along and allows a character to express their feelings – usually resulting in them making a decision. So do this work, and interpret as you think best – and use your own voice.

      Many people just copy what they have seen someone else do, or copy what they have heard on the cast album. Avoid this, as we will also have heard the cast album and will probably know the person you are copying – and I can guarantee you won’t be as good as them, dear.

      So I would say change your focus from trying to find a piece that shows everything in three minutes, and instead find something that suits you, and excites you. Ideally find a speech you enjoy, from a play you admire. Or a song you love that means a lot to you.

      Obviously try to choose something that shows your range as well – but we will usually ask you to sing some scales if your song doesn’t show that.

      The best way to select a speech is to go to a library or bookshop and scour through plays you’ve been in, or things you’ve seen and enjoyed. Whenever you see a new show, start making notes and steal speeches from things you like.

      Avoid going for obvious speeches, and stay away from those ‘monologue speech’ books – as everyone else will be using them. Good luck, dear.

      This week’s question was submitted by @daisylap. Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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