dancing

The Drama School Diaries Part 5: Hidden Expenses

So, you’re planning on auditioning for drama schools, but you’re not sure if you can afford it. You factor in the course fees, the accommodation, living costs etc. but there are also lots of other things you are going to have to pay out for while preparing for drama school.

  1. Auditions are expensive, as they are around £30 – £55 each, and when you audition for 5+ drama schools, it all adds up.
  2. If you are accepted onto a course, you will be given a list of things that you need to purchase for your training, such as leotards, ballet shoes, knee pads and much more. Again, this all adds up, especially when one pair of dance shoes can cost up to £50 alone.
  3. Your accommodation may not be within walking distance of your college, so you’re going to need to pay for your travel. Also, if you are living in London, you are most likely going to be relying on public transport to get around, so you should consider how costly travel is going to be.
  4. Nights out may not be a cost that everyone needs to consider, however most drama schools run freshers events during the first week of term, and if you are living with other students the chances are you will be going out and experiencing London’s nightlife. Tickets for freshers events can be expensive, and then nights out (especially in London) will be even more so, so this is also a factor to consider.

 

I hope this is helpful if you are trying to budget for drama school, and the best advice I can give is to save as much as possible now, so you can have the funds to make your dreams come true and afford drama school life.

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My Response: Are West End Tickets Too Expensive?

Recently, this topic has been debated a lot, as Andrew Lloyd Webber has backed ticket prices and stated that they are ‘reasonable’. I however am undecided on the issue.

On one hand, the amount of time, effort and money that goes into the creation of West End shows is phenomenal. While local theaters and small scale shows are great, nothing compares to the experience of watching a West End production (and I think anyone who has seen one will agree with me). If you look through a show programme, you will see the names of all the creatives who worked on the lighting, the sound, the music, the people who composed the show, those who wrote it etc. and of course the names of the performers who also work incredibly hard to put on (on average) eight shows per week. When you consider all that these individuals have given to a production and the amount of work they have put in, the ticket prices do seem fair (because you are paying to see high quality entertainment and a work of art). As well as this, some tickets are actually very reasonably priced in my opinion. I’ve been to several West End shows now where the tickets have been under £30 each, which when you can pay £100+ for some tickets, this is a bargain. I think the most I have ever paid for theatre tickets is around the £80-£100 mark, but it was so I could watch shows that I really wanted to see.

On the other hand, I think it is a shame that students and people who don’t have much money have to miss out on experiencing theatre. If you are a massive musical theatre fan such as myself, it is strange to think that some people have never been to see a West End show, or even any piece of theatre at all. For some people, this will be out of personal choice or they never would have considered it before etc. but I’m sure if tickets were more affordable it would open up the opportunity to so many more people. As well as this, I’ve spoken on my blog before about how a lot of people don’t think theatre is very inclusive because training in theatre is expensive and going to the theatre is expensive etc. I don’t think this is the impression the industry should be giving people, as the theatre and performing is all about expressing yourself and capturing life and all the emotions and experiences that come with it. Everyone should have the right to be apart of the amazing theatre community, and with that in mind it shouldn’t be seen as a place for the ‘rich’. If ticket prices were lowered, maybe theatre would be more accessible to the masses.

There are loads of amazing websites with great ticket discounts, and many theaters (on and off West End) that offer discounts and incredibly reasonable tickets, so there are still ways for people to enjoy going to the theatre even if they can’t afford to go and see a West End hit. Below I’ve listed some websites where you can purchase discounted theatre tickets:

http://www.lastminute.com/theatre/

https://www.londontheatredirect.com/discounts

http://www.lovetheatre.com/

http://www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk/buy-tickets/tkts/

Overall I am still uncertain about the prices of theatre tickets. I do feel that they are worth the money, because the quality of the entertainment, the venue etc. is incredible. However, I would like more to be done to enable young people and those who can’t afford to go to the theatre to be able to experience it, as I think art is an important part of life that should be inclusive to all. Let me know what you think about this debate, are ticket prices just far too high? Or do you agree with Lord Lloyd Webber that they are reasonable?

Thanks for reading!

Lots of Love Lucy x

The Drama School Diaries Part 4

Dealing with Audition ‘Competition’

Obviously when preparing for auditions and during your auditions your number one priority needs to be you and what you’re doing. However, as you look around the room you will see countless other applicants, and the reality of how many people apply for these courses becomes very real. Naturally, you will try and compare yourself to them, you may think ‘if this many people are at one audition, how many people am I actually up against?’ and the competitive nature of these auditions can make you want to give up. You can’t see the point because that girl over there is more flexible than you, and that girl next to you has an incredible top range and the boy to your left can do back flips. Don’t get into this downward spiral of thoughts. Look at the boy doing back flips in the corner, and remind yourself that while he may be talented, he isn’t you. He does not have what you have, and neither does anyone else because you are one of a kind. This can be a hard thing to keep sight of when you’re surrounded by your competition, but you can’t let this phase you. Make friends with people, have a chat about how their other auditions are going, what songs they’re singing etc. It will make you feel much more at ease if you have a few friends who you can discuss the whole process with (after all, you’re all in the same boat anyway). Also when you are listening to other people singing and watching them dance or act, don’t judge them as if you are a member of the panel. Be supportive, and never for a second think ‘oh they won’t like him’ or ‘I’m way better than her’ because you shouldn’t bring others down to bring yourself up. A better response would be ‘they were good, and now lets show them what I’ve got’.

Often you will have to work in teams during your auditions, and if you don’t work well with others (you’re bossy, you shy away from the task or you are only focusing on yourself etc.) then the panel will notice this and this will go against you. Actors collaborate and work closely together, it’s not all about one person, especially when there is an ensemble of about twenty to thirty people onstage at the same time. So again, talking to people at your auditions will help you out when it comes to the workshops. Alternatively, if there are any current students at the auditions, ask them as many questions as possible (so you get more of an idea about whether the school is right for you). Basically, although you are effectively ‘competing’ against the other people in your audition, don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Be the best you can be, focus on yourself, but get to know the others and support them along the way as well.

I hope you’re all enjoying this series and finding it useful, and I’m open to topic requests so just let me know.

Lots of Love Lucy x

The Drama School Diaries Part 2

Top Ten Tips for Selecting an Audition Song

At a lot of drama school auditions you will be required to prepare two songs of a certain length (generally around two minutes long). However, at a lot of auditions you will only be required to sing one of these songs. Here are my top tips for selecting audition material:

  1. Always have a back up. Create a repertoire folder with around eight to ten songs in, so that if the panel ask you if you have anything else prepared you can confidently and calmly select another one of your songs. Make sure they are all fit for purpose and adhere to the schools criteria, and that you know them all like the back of your hand.
  2. Ensure your sheet music is neat and clear. This may sound like an obvious or strange tip, but the amount of auditions I went to where people got in trouble for not properly taping their sheet music together was ridiculous. Tape it all together neatly, or put it in a folder, and if you have any cuts in the score make sure they are marked clearly (and talk them through with the pianist before you begin). Know who composed the song, the lyricist and make sure you know the tempo at which you want it to be played (so you can go through this with the pianist also).
  3. Don’t go for the obvious songs. I think this goes without saying, but try and avoid Phantom, Wicked, Les Mis and the big hit shows at all costs. The panel have heard it all before, and they will have heard it sung better, so don’t even attempt it. Even musicals like Hamilton are a risk, as they are so popular at the moment, so try and find smaller more off the wall shows. Don’t go mad trying to find a show that no one has heard of, and make sure it is still from a published musical, but try and think outside the box.
  4. Ballads are great and they show off your voice, but sometimes they can be a bit dull. The panel may start nodding off if they have to sit through too many sad love songs, so pick a few songs that are more upbeat, funny or that tell a story. Character songs are more risky and some schools specify that they don’t want to hear you sing them, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sing a more upbeat solo.
  5. If you can’t belt, don’t chose a song that is traditionally belted, and if you can’t sing high, don’t select a soprano number. Sounds simple, but a lot of people go for something that is a bit too high or low in their range, and then when they are nervous they can’t hit the notes. Pick something you can sing comfortably, and then even under pressure you should be able to pull it out the bag.
  6. Never tell the panel that you are ‘ill’ or that you ‘have a cold’. Even if you do, they will be able to hear it and it just seems like you’re making excuses. They are professionals, and even if you are full of cold they will be able to hear if your voice has potential or not.
  7. Don’t be afraid to sing the same song as someone else. I’ve done it at auditions before, and the panel don’t mind at all. As long as you bring something different to the song and you show your personality and interpretation, you will be fine. Don’t let it phase you, just do your thing and don’t worry about how the other person sung it.
  8. Comparing yourself to others at the audition is also a no. If you have the chance to go near the beginning of the audition order then take it, because then you will be less likely to worry about if the girl sat next to you is going to have a better voice or not. If you don’t get to listen to the others sing, then just focus on yourself and think about how good you are going to be. If you do have to watch the others, then just be supportive of them, and don’t put yourself down by assuming the panel will think everyone else is better than you. Focus on you, and don’t let the pressure or competitive atmosphere get to you.
  9. Also, if you are listening to other people audition, the panel may look to see what the other candidates are doing. If you are slouching in your chair, uninterested and not even looking at the person auditioning, you aren’t giving the impression that you are present and engaged with what’s going on. You can still listen to the others and appreciate their work, and the schools are looking for team players, so you don’t want to come across as bored or jealous. Keep focusing on yourself, but respect the other performers and appreciate their work.
  10. Go with your gut. If a singing teacher or someone gives you a song to sing or gives you advice about a song that you don’t feel is right, go with what you think. At the end of the day, it’ll be you standing in that audition room singing it, so you and only you can decide what you are going to sing. Do take suggestions and advice, and if you get recommended a song that you love then go with it, but if someone tells you ‘don’t sing that song it won’t be good enough’ or ‘that song is too boring’ that may just be their opinion. Take all advice with a pinch of salt.

 

I hope these tips will help some of you out, and please let me know what other posts you would like to see in this series!

Lots of Love Lucy x

Dealing with Drama School Rejection

Hello everyone, I cannot believe this is my first post of 2017! Better late than never I suppose.

In around October/November 2016 I applied to study Musical Theatre at three drama schools and three universities. I had one audition in December, two in January and one in February. I attended all three of the drama school auditions, and one of the university auditions, but as I researched into the other two universities (and thought about the fact that I would also have to pay to audition there and travel to these auditions) I decided to withdraw my applications. I’ll admit, I was hopeful that one of the drama schools would offer me a place, or even a callback, but that wasn’t the case. The one university I auditioned for offered me a place, but on a different course. Then, slowly, all of the drama schools rejected my applications and my dream seemed to be drifting further and further away from me. It was a very difficult time for me for several reasons:

  1. As I’d been accepted into a very good university, everyone assumed that I would just study there come September. Yes, I did consider it for a while, but I always had a gut feeling that it wasn’t the right thing to do. I didn’t accept or decline the offer, I just left it sat in my UCAS account while I made a decision.
  2. I currently study Musical Theatre at college, so of course almost everyone in my class was also auditioning for drama schools and universities. It seemed everyone was being inundated with offers, except me. We would all sit down discussing where we were planning to study next year, and people would be debating about which drama school they should go to (as they’d had multiple offers), or which uni they should go to (as again, they’d been offered several places). People would always ask me ‘Lucy, where are you going in September?’ and when I’d say I was unsure, I’d always get the same response ‘But you got into that university didn’t you?’.
  3. Rejection is hard to deal with on your own, let alone when you are constantly being compared with everyone else in your class, and around you. I have met lots of people over the years, and made lots of friends, who also auditioned for drama schools. I scrolled through countless ‘I got into drama school!!!!!’ Facebook posts, and this just knocked my confidence every time. Even without thinking about other peoples success, I was miserable. It was all I could think about, and all I could think was that I was a failure. People said to me ‘Maybe it’s not your time’ and ‘Just try again next year’ or ‘You could still go to university’.

This was the most uncertain I’d ever felt about my future, ever. I didn’t want to take a gap year, as I want to keep training and improving. Lots of people I know who take gap years never end up pursuing their drama school dreams (some do, I’ve just not met many people who do). So, from here I decided to stop moping around and look for more courses to apply to. The trouble with gap year courses and one year foundation courses is that they aren’t cheap, but I was prepared to do whatever is takes. I applied for a foundation course at a top drama school, and a gap year course at a theatre school which is fairly near where I live. I was considering applying for more gap year courses (as there are a lot out there) but I decided to see how my auditions for these two went first.

I auditioned for the drama school foundation course in March, and again, I didn’t get in. At previous auditions, I’d had to wait for a while to hear back from them (as to whether I had been given a recall audition or not) but at this school, they told you right there and then to your face. I’d held it together well at all of my other auditions, and when I’d heard back from schools. Of course, I’d cried over being rejected several times, but whenever news was given to me, I’d always been strong and put on a brave face. This audition was different. I felt like this was my last chance to go to drama school, and so when I was told that I didn’t even get a recall, I was devastated. I have never wanted to leave a building so quickly in my life, as I didn’t want to embarrass myself and let everyone at the audition see me so upset.

At this point, it looked like I was going to have to go to the local stage school for a year, which was difficult for me to accept. Luckily, I’d had an email from one of the drama schools I applied for, saying that although they didn’t offer me their three year degree, they’d like me to audition for their foundation course. I accepted the offer, as this was my favourite drama school out of all of the ones I had visited, and waited to hear back from them. The next piece of news I received from them was that I didn’t need to audition, they would just base their choice on my previous audition.

So I waited to hear from them, and during this time I was rejected from the other foundation course I was describing earlier. I’ve always believed in the term ‘everything happens for a reason’, but at this point I just felt defeated. The day after I’d been rejected again, I went into college and did my lessons as usual. At the end of the day we had a ballet class which I completed, and then packed up my stuff and looked at my phone. I had an email notification, so I frantically opened it and discovered that I had been given a place on a foundation course at my favourite drama school. I immediately burst into tears (of joy, of course) and my whole class ran over and gave me a massive hug. I then ran outside to tell my mum, who also shed a few tears over the news. I have to say, this was definitely the best moment of my life. Finally, I wasn’t a failure, I was going to a drama school, and it was one that I had fallen in love with when I auditioned. I still cannot believe it. I later declined my uni offer, and accepted my place on the foundation course.

After this experience I thought that everything really does happen for a reason. If I had been offered a place at another drama school, or I’d accepted my place at university, I wouldn’t have the offer that I have now (an offer that is the best thing to ever happen to me). I went through a really hard time, and I know that probably sounds ridiculous when there are people suffering and fighting harder battles than me all over the world, but I really did go through months of feeling lost. An analogy I used to describe those months of rejection was that I was stuck in a little wooden boat with no oars, there were holes in the boat (so it was sinking), the water was still and everyone was cruising past me in their luxury speed boats while I was stuck in my little sinking boat. Thankfully, someone threw me an oar when I was offered a place, and I have never felt so blessed and so lucky in all my life.

I think the message I’m trying to send here is to never give up. Yes, people say that all the time, but really, don’t ever give in. I went through knock back after knock back, but it was all worth it in the end. Just know that there is always something better waiting for you on the other side.

As I researched into a lot of options for what to do if you don’t get into drama school, I would like to share those with you (as they may help you out if you are still trying to find something to do come September).

  1. Go to university, work your hardest, and then complete a Masters Degree at a drama school (but remember, you will have to fund that extra year yourself).
  2. Start trying to find work and learn on the job as you go (get an agent, join casting websites, go to open casting calls and just try and see if you get any work even with no training). Another good way to get experience is to accept unpaid acting jobs (giving you contacts and credits for your C.V.).
  3. Apply for gap year courses and foundation courses (they will help you gain skills, but again remember you will need to fund this yourself).
  4. Create your own work. Find others in the same boat and set up a theatre company, write plays, write songs, enter competitions and get your own ideas out there.
  5. Make a YouTube channel where you post singing videos or acting videos, you never know who may end up watching it.
  6. Remember that you can always get a job (maybe in a theatre) and then re audition for drama schools next year.
  7. Is the drama school route really right for you? Have you looked into other courses that may interest you? A lot of people who get rejected are glad that they were, as it helps them discover another passion (maybe for writing or directing) so you could see where a different path may lead you. However, if you are determined to be a performer, then don’t give up.

I hope that this helps anyone who was also rejected from drama schools, or even to prepare people who want to apply for them at some point. Whatever happens, just know that it will make you more experienced, and you will have to work harder and for longer to get where you want to be, but that’s okay too. The struggles you face will make you more grateful for your success’ in the end.