2012 Graduate Headshots

Oct30

Thanks to Marcus Walters Photography for shooting our 2012 graduate’s headshots. Here they are:

https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/media/set/?set=a.551539848196439.148438.170791562937938&type=1

 

Audition Preparation and Performance Tips

Oct18

Here is some advice and guidance for those who are preparing their audition monologues for upcoming drama school auditions in November. There are usually many more applicants than available places so preparation and hard work is required to be successful in securing an offer. Having seen many auditions for places at Sydney Theatre School in the past eight years and also having auditioned many applicants for other drama schools and productions I have identified some problem areas and issues that often arise. Here are my top ten tips:

CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE PIECE

• A character or role you are likely to be cast in (ask others for their opinion if they know the play)
• A character close to your age, type, gender, physicality etc.
• Avoid using accents unless specifically requested

PREPARE THOROUGHLY

• Read the play and identify the character’s objectives and actions
• Look up the meaning of words you don’t understand (esp. with Shakespeare)
• Check correct pronunciation of unfamiliar words (esp. with Shakespeare)
• Over-learn the lines and perform the piece for someone prior to the audition

WARM UP PROPERLY BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

• May not be time or room to warm up at the venue
• Control your breath especially if you are nervous
• Project your voice properly (by using resonance – not shouting)

TREAT THE AUDITION AS A PERFORMANCE

• Don’t stop during the audition unless asked by the panel
• Request a prompt or ask to hold the script only if you must (signifies lack of preparation/confidence)

KEEP IT SIMPLE

• Keep still unless movement is required (don’t wander aimlessly)
• Don’t lock yourself into patterns. Be flexible and in the moment

DON’T BE INFLUENCED BY OTHERS

• Don’t change anything if someone does the same piece as you in a different way.
• Trust your own instincts

DON’T APOLOGISE OR MAKE EXCUSES

• The panel is not interested in reasons why you are under-prepared (eg sickness; family issues, work; holidays etc)
• NEVER admit you were not happy with your performance (they might have liked it!)

DON’T BERATE YOURSELF IF IT DOESN’T GO WELL

• Remember there is no such thing as a perfect performance or audition

BE CONFIDENT AND POSITIVE BEFORE AND AFTER THE AUDITION

• Have confidence to be yourself
• Aim to project a friendly and professional demeanor
• Answer questions honestly and directly

LEARN FROM THE EXPERIENCE

• Evaluate your performance and identify what worked and what didn’t and why

 

Mark Matthews – Course Director

Advice for Aspiring Actors.

Oct10

You can’t learn to act by reading a book. You can’t learn to act by enrolling in an on-line course. No-one can actually teach you how to act. Anyone who tells you they can is usually trying to sell you their book, on-line course or workshop based on their own ‘secret’ technique.

Acting talent is just like intelligence or physical beauty. What you are born with is what you have to work with and make the best of throughout your career. You can certainly learn and develop important acting-related skills, knowledge, values and attitudes by reading books or taking part in workshops and then applying what you have learnt in practice at a later time. However these things will do nothing whatsoever to help you improve or develop your natural talent as an actor. The problem is that the ‘gurus’ selling their products generally don’t make this distinction and will have you believe that by listening to them talk or watching them teach in a workshop; reading their books; or signing up for their on-line courses; you will learn their ‘secrets’ and unlock the key to success as an actor. This is most unlikely.

There is only one way to learn to act and that is to act. Just like there is only one way to learn to play soccer. Or to drive a car properly on the road. Or to play a musical instrument proficiently. No amount of reading, theorising, listening or discussing will help you as much as the actual doing of it. Regularly. In the case of acting it is also helpful to do it front of audiences and/or cameras (rather than in front of teachers and classmates) as soon as possible (just like it’s best to play competitive soccer games against strong opposition rather than to do training drills with your team-mates all the time). The audience is the greatest teacher and the greatest asset an actor has while training and while performing throughout their career. They (even the expectation of their presence at a future time) are a much better motivator for the student actor than grades or teacher/guru approval will ever be. The student actor will really start to learn their craft properly and begin to progress rapidly when they start performing in productions.

Don’t get me wrong – there is nothing wrong with knowledge and theory but major problems arise for the student actor when their focus shifts away from trust in their own instincts and creativity and onto showing how well they have understood whatever ‘technique’ is being promoted by their training institution or teacher in order get good grades and avoid failure. A good actor-training institution will do the exact opposite. They will set in place structures and procedures that allow the student actor to take risks; to make discoveries; to play; to experiment; and to create freely without fear of being expelled if they ‘fail’. This is how professional actors and directors (should) approach their work and this is the type of learning environment student actors should be allowed to experience from the very start of their training. Most students at most drama schools are simply learning how to be good drama students rather than learning how to be working actors in a professional rehearsal-room environment.

There are way too many aspiring actors who are being mis-led by ‘gurus’ and institutions that are trying to package, market and sell something as their own ‘secret’ process which is actually better learnt through practice and performance in an on-the-job, real-world environment.

There is an old adage that if something seems too good to be true then it probably is….so beware of acting gurus promising the world and learn the craft of acting properly through production-based training.

 

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