In the fall of 2014, after the first few months of Basetrack, I started looking into graduate programs again. This time I knew what I was looking for and what I wanted out of a program. At this point I had also started looking at actors whose work I really admired and did my research on where there were trained. A lot of the people I looked up to for years such as Anthony Hopkins, John Lithgow, Michael Fassbender, and many more were all trained in the UK. My wife, girlfriend at the time, found an article detailing the Top 10 graduate acting programs in the world. Five of these programs were in the UK and so it seemed logical to shift my focus overseas. At first I had to find out if it was even feasible for us to move there and survive, which is something these programs require their international students to prove. Once we sorted out the financial aspect I applied for three of the programs on the list that were in London: Royal Central School of Speech & Drama, LAMDA, and Drama Centre.
Now before I get to the auditions for LAMDA & DC I want to talk about the Central audition. Of all the graduate programs I auditioned for their process was by far the weirdest. After having completed a graduate program I understand a little bit of why they may have done it this way, but I still disagree with it. In a graduate acting program you are with the same group of people for every class and for every second of the day, for most programs. There are some programs where you will have classes with the undergraduate students but that is not typical especially for UK courses. The Central audition was set up like an ensemble class where we all stood in a circle while one person performed their piece in the middle. Then whoever was leading the audition would direct you and give you an exercise to work with; in order to see how well you take direction and how it effects your performance. My exercise was that I had to turn 180 degrees and direct my intention towards a new person every time the auditor said to, which she increasingly sped up as my piece progressed. All this did was make me extremely dizzy and lose focus of my intentions. Ultimately the woman asked each of us if we would be willing to consider Central’s MA Screen course as well as the MA Acting course, I said no as I wanted the theatrically physicality from my graduate studies and not the subtlety of film. In the end it was just a very strange day and I left the audition feeling not sure if I’d go there even if they offered me a place.
Now both my auditions for LAMDA and Drama Centre were much more my style. I entered the room and there were either a few people (LAMDA) or just one person (DC) and I did two of my pieces. After I finished we talked a bit about myself and then they gave me some direction on how to adjust my piece, again to see how well I could take direction, and after making the adjustments I did it again. I remember in my LAMDA audition I was asked to do my Edmund the Bastard piece like I had smoked an entire pack of cigarettes and just drank half a bottle of scotch. It was the most interesting performance I have ever lived through and when I finished I knew this was the type of thinking I needed from a graduate program. Finding new ways to approach material and always going deeper, along with the much needed movement training. After auditioning for these programs, which were all in NYC so they didn’t have callbacks, I tried to put it out of my head and finished up the tour with Basetrack. After the tour I found out that I was waitlisted for LAMDA, my first choice, and was offered a place at Drama Centre. There is a lot that goes into moving overseas, which I’ll cover in my next blog, so I needed to make the decision soon but I was waiting to hear from LAMDA. Each program was a 1-year intensive, with great curriculums and an impressive list of notable alumni. I waited until June and finally accepted the offer from Drama Centre. I was actually in my second week of term at DC in the fall when LAMDA emailed me saying they wouldn’t be able to offer me a place. There was months of planning and preparation for my move to London so I’m not sure how they think international students can just drop everything in the blink of an eye. But like I said, I’ll touch on that more in my next post.
If you have ANY questions about auditioning for grad school either in the US or London please don’t hesitate to ask. If I don’t know the answer I can at least point you in the right direction.
Thanks again for reading!