Thursday, 11 April 2013

My Audition

Can't believe I'm back already. This morning I was riding the DLR with Lauren, looking out at London, grey and misty in the rain, then in no time at all I was back at Gare du Nord, retracing my footsteps from yesterday morning...

I thought I was going to miss my train yesterday, because the metro stopped for fifteen minutes and I was already cutting it fine. For once I'd decided to arrive half an hour early (as recommended by Eurostar) instead of panicking and turning up ridiculously early like I normally do, but I didn't allow any time for metro mishaps... When my metro stopped (the ever-unreliable Line 9) I prayed it would start up again a minute later like it normally does, but no, we stopped for ten minutes and then five minutes at the next station. I had that horrible 'Sliding Doors' feeling, when you know you have to make a tiny decision that could alter your fate- should I get off the metro and get a taxi? Or will the metro start up again as soon as the doors close behind me?

In the end I arrived at Gare du Nord with exactly half an hour before my train left, so I'd just made it. (Actually, I've seen people stroll on to the Eurostar seconds before it's due to leave, but I don't have the nerves to do that.) By the time I checked in, my train was ready to board and I walked straight on from security.

Ambitious plans to spend the train journey reading 'Anthony and Cleopatra' (Cleopatra was my back-up speech) went out of the window as soon the train started moving and the motion sent me into a slumber... I slept for most of the journey and woke up as everyone was getting their bags down from the luggage racks- we were about ten minutes away from St Pancras.

I went to meet Lauren at her work and we had lunch in their swish new canteen. She'd made us some pasta salad at home and also a surprise wrapped in tin foil- 'for good luck'. It was a home-made macaron! She said it had been a bit of a disaster and she'd only managed to salvage two out of twelve, but it tasted like a macaron, even if it was a bit flat and beige (she'd wanted them to be bright pink). Anyway, it's the thought that counts.

After our lunch I went in Marks and Spencer to put my make-up on in the toilets (I wanted it to look fresh) and made my way to my audition. When I got off the tube near the drama school, I still had an hour to kill so I sat in a coffee shop, flicking through my interview notes. I wasn't sure exactly what they'd ask me, in my audition letter it said I would have to describe a live performance I'd been in and to 'demonstrate a commitment to studying acting'.

I was really nervous, but not so nervous that I was shaking and wanting to be sick, which is what I was worried would happen.

My nose was still a bit blocked and my throat was a bit sore, but you couldn't hear it in my voice.. The thing I was most scared about was that I would open my mouth... and nonsense would come out. I didn't feel in control of myself. I knew the lines and I'd practiced some movement, but I didn't trust that it would all come together in the audition room. I don't know where this feeling came from, I guess it was nerves.

When it was time to go in to the building, I realised that I was sweating a lot, I kept trying to smell myself discreetly. As soon as I walked into the foyer, I realised I was one of the last people to arrive, even though I was ten minutes early. There were about twenty nervous-looking hopefuls loitering at the bottom of an sweeping staircase. I went to reception and told the lady my name and she gave my a sticker with 'Auditions' written on it. Nobody was really talking, then four people next to me struck up a really irritating conversation, one guy going on and on about all the theatre work he'd done recently, making bad jokes and generally being a massive cringe. He looked about nineteen and I wondered if I'd ever been that embarrassing when I was his age...

Then I started to wonder if I was that embarrassing now. I had to walk to the other side of the room to get away from him and the possible self-image I would see reflected back.

A lady appeared and told us all to follow her up the stairs to a large conference-style room. She explained what was going to happen and gave us back our application forms, so we could write down our choice of speeches. The lady who spoke to us worked in admin I think and she was really nice. She said that we would be split into four groups of four or five, each group led by an ex-student who would also sit in on our audition with the 'audition panel'. I'd been imagining a tiny room and a table with four or five people sat behind it, but the nice lady told us that each audition panel would be made up of just two people.

My group left the conference room first. We followed our ex-student out of the building and down the street to their 'studios' across the road. I was glad of the fresh air. I didn't speak to anyone else in my group until we got to our audition room. The ex-student told us we would be auditioned in the order she had called our names out in the conference room, so I knew I would be second.

She left us for a while and I started chatting to the other people in my group. They were all really sweet, they were all still studying for their A Levels, apart from one girl who was twenty-two. I went to the loo and went over the words in my head. I felt really nervous. This was it, this was it. We waited about twenty minutes before the first one- a guy called Tom- was called in.

One of the girls showed me her folder of research and interview answers she'd brought. She was only seventeen.

The ex-student came out of the audition room asked me if I was ready.

“Yep,” I said, jumping up.

She said something to me that I didn't catch and then suddenly I was walking towards a man and a woman sat behind a small table. It was large room, with props and chairs stacked up along one wall. We shook hands and I sat down. They asked me what I was doing with myself, so I told them about Paris, we chatted about that briefly and it all felt very relaxed. The woman was lovely and put me at ease straight away, the man was slightly less friendly, but I don't if I just thought that because the woman was Northern and he wasn't. The man seemed surprised when I told him I'd studied drama and I rushed to explain that it wasn't an acting course... I don't know though, it is a little strange that I want to study acting for three years when I already have a degree in drama. It's my prerogative, but I am worried the drama schools won't like it. Nothing I can do about that, I suppose.

They asked me which speech I wanted to start with and I decided to do my contemporary piece, because I think it's the best out of the two.

I don't know if I brought it on myself by worrying about it beforehand- a self-fulfilling prophecy thing- but I was kind of right to fear losing control, of opening my mouth and not knowing what was going to come out of it...

I said some of the lines in the wrong order.

There's no way they could tell, so I don't feel too bad about it, but then I did my Shakespeare speech and I had to stop halfway through, I forgot a line and suddenly realised I had no idea where I was in the speech, so I asked them if I could go back a few lines, then when I finished, I realised I'd missed out a line. It's a really famous speech so they will have noticed.


But... I still felt ok. In my contemporary speech there's a moment where I have to cry and I was worried no tears would come and it would look shit, but I've been saving up my tears for a few days (thinking sad things and not crying) and obviously my emotions were running high, I was able to genuinely cry. I'm pleased with that and the interview felt ok, so overall I came out feeling fine.

Feeling 'fine' can sometimes mean you've done really badly and are blissfully unaware, but I'm glad it wasn't a bad experience. I've heard first-hand accounts of how the staff at this particular drama school can be dismissive and haughty, how auditions can be an intimidating and nerve-wrecking experience. But I enjoyed the whole process, so that's something, even if I don't get a recall.

I'll find out within the week, I think.

After my audition I met Lauren from work and we walked across the river to The Globe. Ahh. Last weekend when I went to Holly's to work on my movement (which I forgot a lot of in my audition, by the way), she lent me Bill Bryson's biography of Shakespeare (Harper Press). I love reading about the theatres of Shakespeare's London. From the book I've discovered that when they rebuilt The Globe in the nineties, they based the design on the only authentic image we have of an Elizabethean theatre- the copy of a sketch by a Dutch tourist, the original sketch having been drawn during a live performance at the Swan Theatre in 1596.

Lauren suggested she take a photo of me outside The Globe, so in years to come and I can look back and say: “That's where it all started.” 

I wouldn't let her though in case anybody found out and thought I was a dickhead. I do find it a bit embarrassing, auditioning for drama school, in case people think I'm a deluded idiot for thinking I'm good enough to get in...

All my friends and family have been really supportive and positive though, ridiculously positive. Why wouldn't they be? It doesn't matter what I want to do, it's nobody else's business but mine. Life is short and if you want to do something then you have to do it.

Just do what you want, all the time, as long as it's not raping people or stealing from the poor. 

Ah do you know what I really want to watch now? Shakespeare In Love.


  1. Crossing my fingers for you that it's good news!

    I would never be brave enough to do an audition like that! I'm definitely more at ease behind the camera/the curtain than in front of it!

    1. Thank you! I really don't know what's going to happen...

  2. Good luck!! I felt a bit sick reading parts as it reminded how nervous i was when i auditioned for the NYT one year, I look forward to the sequel of this post! Bonne chance as they say :)

  3. You did it and felt good afterwards, so yay! Crossing my fingers for the next step, I would think your theoretical drama knowledge would be a positive and I'm sure you were great. Seems silly to say based on a written blog, but you seem like a natural for drama school :)

  4. Your account had me riveted. I'm sure you've done well (especially seeing you cried!) but if you don't get in you'd better get on with writing a best-seller!

    Best of luck and fingers crossed. xx

  5. Do you wear leg warmers per chance? I walked past a girl the other day near notre dame de lorette wearing a cape/cloak with leg warmers... Thought it could have been you :)

    1. HAAAAAAAAA no I don't wear leg warmers, but I really wish I could say that girl was me!

  6. I loved acting when I was younger, but there is no way I would be able to do an audition and interview to get into drama school! I hate interviews, so I would probably end up in a crying heap on the floor and forget all my lines.