5 Things Working Class Actors Face When Auditioning for Drama School
This week we have been exploring class and what whether opportunities in our industry vary depending on your background. So many of you have told us that you couldn't afford auditions and theatre tickets, or to pay for the foundation year that you were talented enough to be offered, and this is what makes it so much harder for working class actors to compete for places against those that can afford these things. That's why we're lifting the lid on the top 5 things working class actors face during audition season, along with some suggestions on how to tackle those problems 👊
1. Auditioning for multiple schools is impossible
With audition fees ranging anywhere from £30-90 a school, auditioning for multiple places is incredibly challenging for working class actors, not to mention the travelling fees associated if you live far away from the audition venue and need to pay for transport/accommodation. Guys, I feel you. This means that you can only probable apply for one or two schools at a time meaning that you’re not getting a full experience of what each schools audition process is like, and you don’t get to really feel which school could be right for you.
Top tips for getting more out of your auditions:
- Apply early for early bird fees
- Speak to support organisations such as Open Door
- Search 'Fee waivers' for each school you're applying for, most of the UK's top drama schools will offer postcode/means tested fee waivers - but apply early and get your paperwork straight!
2. Sourcing monologues from plays
Trying to choose the perfect monologue for drama school is hard enough, let alone when you need to buy the play and read it first. Plays average from around £4-10 depending on the print and if you’re wanting to explore your options before choosing a final piece, the costs soon add up. This often leads people to feeling frustrated and only enhances the divide that many working class actors feel when auditioning.
Top tips for keeping costs low when sourcing monologues:
- Reach out to Acting Facebook groups for recommendations (people can usually tell you a lot about the play and the speech so that you get an idea without having to fork any money out first)
- Team up with other actors and share plays
- Start early, you can buy pre-owned playtexts on ebay for around £2
- View the ‘title list’ here from DramaOnline to research plays
- Try YouTubing monologues to see what the speech is like without having to buy
- Sell books that you have bought to make your money back after auditions
3. “Do you get a chance to see much theatre?”
I don’t know about you, but in drama school interviews this was the question I dreaded the most. Because the answer was ‘no, because I can’t afford to’. I remember when I was 18 I was asked this in my first ever audition (for a drama school that will remain nameless) and I was told ‘How can you possibly be an actor if you don’t go to see theatre?’ At the time I was mortified, tickets were upwards of £40 and because I didn’t live in London, train tickets in were an extra £20 and trying to get the time off of my three jobs to go and see theatre was nearly impossible! Luckily, we have some great resources so that you don’t have to dread this question too:
Top places to see theatre online:
- DigitalTheatre (watch hundreds of shows and interviews for £9.99 a month) *Top tip* plan some solid time aside so that you can watch as much as possible then cancel your subscription before you’re charged again.
- The Old Vic YouTube
- National Theatre At Home
- Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage
- Royal Shakespeare Company
4. Losing out because of lack of funding
So once you’ve scraped together the money for the audition, sourced the play, been through the gruelling process…you’re offered a place…that you can’t afford to accept. Many people are often offered foundation year places or training courses which would be the perfect opportunity to train in preparation for a BA degree or industry, but so many talented actors aren’t able to accept these places through lack of financial support.
- Lamda Foundation Diploma Bursary (2 x bursary’s for foundation year training)
- Government Bursary fund for 16-19 year olds
- Open Door – support for 18-26 year olds auditioning
- The Princes Trust – support for 11-30 year olds
- DaDA – support for 16-23 year olds
- National Youth Arts Trust – 12-15 year olds
- Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation - scholarships
5. Judgement and unconscious bias
This is the hardest one to overcome, so many of you have said to us that you felt like you’ve been judged by your accent or your background and this is a really tricky thing to overcome. Work has been done in the industry to challenge unconscious bias and diversity but we have a long way to go. When I auditioned at 18 (to the school that shall remain nameless…) they found out I was from Southend and they said “oh…*raised eyebrows*…well I take it you’re not at all interested in Shakespeare then?”…actually, your highness…whilst I’m sipping Bacardi breezers on the street, I love nothing more than to recite the bard.
Joking aside, Shakespeare was something I was incredibly passionate about but the entire experience knocked my confidence because I was judged on my background before I’d even opened my mouth! Needless to say, when I auditioned again three years later and had a similar experience, I walked out of the room mid speech because I didn't want to go somewhere that treated people like that 👋
Things to remember:
- Your background does not define you, not matter how many people try to tell you otherwise
- Accent determines where we are from not who we are
- We all have unconscious bias within us and I’m sure most people don’t realise that what they’re saying is offensive
- You are a boss ass, incredible actor that is going to make it in this industry regardless of others’ opinions.
Working class actors: we’ve been there, we get it, we feel you, we love you ❤️ We’re going to be providing as much support and advice as we can over the coming months to make sure you have everything you need to boss your auditions.
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