Drama school: Don’t audition if you don’t want to go

In Features, Opinion by Susan ElkinLeave a Comment

No student should apply to audition for a college place he or she has no intention of accepting. It’s a waste of everyone’s time, effort and money. And it’s very rude. It’s also so shabby, dismissive and manipulative that it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

Yes, of course it’s customary to apply for as many schools as you can afford to audition for – choosing, wisely, one hopes, courses which really match what you need. Then, if you’re both talented and lucky, you might end up with several offers and have to make a choice. That’s fair enough. All the colleges accept it and if you’re destined to be the next Summer Strallen or Charlie Stemp then the colleges you didn’t choose will be very sorry to have missed out on you but, no doubt wish you well anyway.

That’s a far cry from auditioning at college X because you’ve heard good things about their audition days and it will be good practice for your audition in College Y which is where you really want to go. Never should a student be encouraged to work the system in this cynical, destructive way. It does serious damage to smaller colleges and it’s inappropriate behaviour. If you’re up to scratch then apply for College Y and be done with it if that’s what you want.  And if you’re not upp to scratch well … time to think of a different career maybe.

Sadly I regularly now hear not only of students doing this quite calculatedly but – even worse – staff on some foundation courses are actively encouraging it. Some are telling their students to use certain colleges as audition practice but not to contemplate accepting a place there. What a message to give your students – that’s it’s fine to use colleges you’re definitely not interested in to suit your own ends. Think of no one but yourself and don’t bother about ethics, rights and wrongs or anything remotely relating to morality. Just do your own thing. Me, me, me.

Well call me old fashioned but you won’t shake me from the view that before you apply for any sort of course (it applies beyond performing arts too) you should be seriously considering signing up for it if you get the chance.  You are not the only pebble on the beach as my grandfather used to tell me. To do otherwise is quite wrong. And, just remember that this industry relies on teamwork and collaboration. If your attitude is so self-centredly flawed before you even start training then you’re not likely to get far.

Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin is a former teacher of secondary English. She has also been a very active and eclectic freelance journalist for more than 25 years. She now focuses on education, performing arts and books, and was education and training editor at The Stage newspaper 2015-2016. Susan is the author of over 40 books, mostly on education and performing arts topics, including So You Want to Work in Theatre (Nick Hern Books). In 2016, she launched her personal website susanelkin.co.uk.
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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin is a former teacher of secondary English. She has also been a very active and eclectic freelance journalist for more than 25 years. She now focuses on education, performing arts and books, and was education and training editor at The Stage newspaper 2015-2016. Susan is the author of over 40 books, mostly on education and performing arts topics, including So You Want to Work in Theatre (Nick Hern Books). In 2016, she launched her personal website susanelkin.co.uk.