Getting into Acting School

It's tough to get a place at Drama School (less than 1% of applicants get in!) so if you're serious about getting in, you might want to try some of these tips.

Getting into Acting School

If you want to be a professional actor, there's no better way that to attend a top acting school. These days, since Drama UK, the accreditation body no longer exists, you have to decide for yourself which acting school to apply for. But nonetheless, over a hundred thousand young people will apply for a top acting/drama school this year, and if you want one of the very few coveted places, you have to be prepared.

Here are my top ten tips on improving your chance of getting into acting school this year.

ONE: No Accents

Don't do accents. They don't want to see them. They are picking you. Most can't sustain an accent consistently enough to a panel of industry experts.

TWO: Come as You Are

No matter what they say, don't go wearing all black. Don't go dressed like it's an interview for an investment bank. Go dressed as you. They want to give places to people with personalities.

THREE: Take Them On a Journey

Every monologue has a journey to it. (If it doesn't, don't choose it) You have to take the audition panel on a journey from one place to another. We all know that stories have a beginning, middle and an end. Make sure that you have thought about the beginning, middle and end of your monologue performance as separate sections. Even better, break it down into smaller chunks and work on each part separately.

FOUR: Respect the Structure

Every monologue has a very simple structure. At the beginning, there is a way to hook in the listener. Use it to your advantage. Somewhere in the middle is a turning point, use it to change the direction of your performance and stop your monologue flat-lining. At the end there is a climax, the greatest point of drama in the speech. Never reach a higher peak in your performance until you get to this climax.

FIVE: Picking a Contemporary

This is always the tough one. Pick something since 1980, preferably sooner. Pick a piece that is easy to see you as the character. Pick something you've seen or read. Demonstrate that you know something about contemporary theatre with your choice. Picking Dennis Kelly's school version of DNA just makes it look like you have no imagination. Keep it between 120-180 seconds. The shorter the better.

SIX: Bigger and Small

Acting Shakespeare is slightly larger than we're often comfortable doing. Acting Contemporary is often slightly smaller than we want to 'perform'. Making this distinction is important.

SEVEN: Don't Compare

You're there to do your best job at the audition. Don't compare yourself to others and don't engage in competitive storytelling before the audition with others. You will only lose - everyone does. Negative self comparison is far more likely to happen than positive.

EIGHT: Take Care of S.H.E

They seem ridiculously obviously. But without good sleep, hydration and food (eating), you won't do your best. Without a good sleep, you'll lose your edge. Without hydration, your concentration will be reduced. Lastly, food. Without food, you may enjoy a rather nasty crash in energy. Low blood sugar symptoms include shaking, sweaty palms, raised heart beat and a cloudy mind - just like being nervous, do you really want to add that to your existing nerves! No way. Receive an instant edge over the others by taking care of S.H.E

NINE: Personal Statement

My biggest bugbear to be honest. It doesn't say. Personal biography. It doesn't say 'tell them you've been acting since you were 5 and its your passion.'. You have a page to make an impact on them. Be in control of the message you're sending them. Write a statement that's true. Not what you think they want to hear.

TEN: Keep Going

Some of my clients took up to 6 attempts to get in. With only 1% of applicants getting a place, it may take more than one chance. Don't give up.

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4 Comments

  • Bhavesh Jadva

    On 11 October 2016, 15:28 Bhavesh Jadva Voice Team commented:

    Ah what an interesting list of rules! For a lot of young people in such a saturated industry, acting school is the only way to get ahead so a lot of people should find this helpful in their applications - Keep Going is a particularly important one.

  • Sam Cartwright

    On 11 October 2016, 15:51 Sam Cartwright Voice Reporter commented:

    Some really good advice here, will keep this in mind when I audition this year!

  • Kheira Bey

    On 12 October 2016, 14:08 Kheira Bey Contributor commented:

    Very interesting set of rules, however some of them I have to disagree with some as an auditionee myself. Firstly, there is nothing wrong with wearing all black to anything where you have to act. If it makes you feel comfortable, you'll feel better and in a more deeper way, you will feel like you are carrying less 'baggage' of your normal reality so you will feel easier when stepping into your new character. Plus, black hides sweat a little better and looks professional- so win win [kinda, if you're a sweaty mess don't just rely on black...].

    Secondly, acting 'small' and 'big' is referring to perhaps the distinction between stage and screen acting. In Shakespeare's day there were no microphones, so you had to project your voice to the WHOLE THEATRE. I know. The danger with this tip is simply to 'overact' Shakespeare, since you're not used to it and feel like that's how you would do it on stage i.e. stressing the rhyme or using the energy to create upward inflections [going 'up' at the end of each line]. My top tip here is that if people can tell that you're acting, you're not doing your job- regardless as to if it's Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson or anything else.

    Thirdly, no-one cares about the personal statement. I highly doubt they read it. They just want to know if you have raw potential, which is trainable.

    Lastly, do not forget the interview. It is not an 'add on' to the main event, they want to understand your personality... at the end of the day they will have to teach you all day for three years.

    Happy auditioning!!!

  • On 12 October 2016, 17:19 [Deleted User] commented:

    Ironically, people do quite the opposite, they massively underplay the Shakespeare to be realistic and tend to over-act the contemporary. It's got to be believable, but it has to be balance. When you're acting 400 year old poetry, you can't be afraid of it and mumble away to yourself. (which I know you're not advocating - but it's what people to do)
    With regards to the black, I think if you want to wear black wear it, it can be hard to show your personality through a black outfit, and audition panelists at RCS, Rose Bruford and Central all commented on it when I asked. I read every personal statement put in front of me, because in short auditions, where due to time you can't learn much about the auditionee, it's a way of learning something else about them. Plus, when there's a lot of talented individuals, it can be a way of working out which might be a better fit for the individual schools. I SUPER agree that if they can tell you're acting, you're not doing the job well!

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