musical blog

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.

N is for November

It’s November! One of my favourite months as it is now the lead up to Christmas, and my birthday is this month. So I thought I’d share some of my favourite “N” things…

1) NeverLand the home of Peter Pan. The Disney animated version is one of my all time favourite films, and the music is gorgeous, so I’ll definitely be getting this DVD out this month.

2) Niall Horan from One Direction. Now this may seem a bit off topic for this blog, but of course people who love musicals also have other music that they enjoy listening to. They are one of my favourite bands and I’ve loved them ever since they were on the X factor, but I’m not a crazed fangirl. I really like their latest song “Steal My Girl” and I’m really looking forward to the release of their new album!

3) Narnia (aka The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe). I adore these films, especially the 1st and 3rd. They are beautifully made, and the soundtrack is amazing! My favourite is the soundtrack to the first film, so I recommend you give that a listen. It’s also very appropriate to the current season as it’s now starting to become winter, so it’s perfect for watching at this time of year.

4) New York. Now, I have never been to New York but I can tell you this; it looks stunning at Christmas time! I am hoping to go in a few years time for a visit (mainly to see Broadway), but also just to be amazed by the scenery. For now though, I can just flick through photos of it and dream that one day I’ll make it there.

5) Newsies, with music by Alan Menken. I love this show! The soundtrack is great, and although it’s not one of my favourite musicals ever I still love to listen to it’s music now and again.

6) Next to Normal, with music by Tom Kitt. I have never seen this musical, but I have heard many a person rave about how good it is. So this month I’m going to listen to the soundtrack to see what all the fuss is about, and maybe I will have some new songs to add to my musical favourites playlist.

7) Lindsay Lohan (there is an n in Lohan I promise). Now you may think this one is cheating, but I just couldn’t resist adding this in. She is starring in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow, which originally featured Madonna. Now when I first heard this news a while ago, I wasn’t sure what to think. I love her in films such as “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen”, but I didn’t know if theatre was for her. But it appears her West End debut is the talk of the town, and the Observer’s review even states that Miss Lohan is the best thing about the production! So maybe, I will give her a chance, and go and see this spectacle this month.

8) Nicole Scherzinger. This is similar to the last one, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of Cats is due to open on the 6th of December 2014 and Nicole will be playing Grizabella. I am not the biggest fab of her work, although I do admit she is a good singer. But I worry she will not have the same technique that a trained musical theatre performer will have, even though she is a talented pop artist. Also, she is no Elaine Paige. But I may be being too quick to judge, so I will wait until her reviews come out, and then decide if I will go and see the show or not.

So that’s all for now, although I do have many more things I could have included in this post, but I do not want to go on for too long.

My blog is nearing 700 views, which may not seem like a lot, but I’m so happy with this! I started this blog just as a space to publish my thoughts, but I love the fact that people read it, so thank you. I will start posting more regularly, and I would love to take requests as to what I write about. So if you have a topic you want me to cover, please comment on this post, tweet me (@justamusicalgal), or email me: justamusicalgal@gmail.com

I Look forward to hearing from some of you! Happy November.

The Understudy

It’s been a long time since my last post , as I have been so busy lately, but I’m back!

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been busy with was a production of Grease. I auditioned last year, but as I was doing another show (so I couldn’t commit to all the rehearsals), I was in the chorus. But then my other show finished, and Grease was pushed back a few months because it wasn’t finished. I was a cheerleader and it was a lot of fun, but I was given the job of being an understudy to all the female roles in the production. I was thrilled, but at the same time I knew no one would drop out so I didn’t think anymore of it.

Then the day before the show’s first matinee, one of the cast members sustained an injury. I was asked to step in at the last minute, so I learned the show in a few hours, and I got to play Frenchy.

I was really excited and nervous about the opportunity, but all I could think about was the poor girl who hurt herself.

On the night of the second show, we were having our microphones fitted, when the girl I took over from walked in. I took one look at her, and burst into tears and ran off.

I didn’t think I would react like that, because I hadn’t done anything wrong. I think I felt bad because she had worked so hard on the show, and she was probably really looking forward to it.

She was really nice about the whole thing, and I really appreciated that. She watched the show that night, and I just couldn’t look at her. I felt awful, and there was nothing I could do.

It got me thinking how tough it must be for understudies professionally. I mean, they probably feel like the second best option, and that’s not a nice feeling. Also they must feel bad for whoever they’re taking over from.

As well as this, they may hardly ever get to play the role at all, when they have spent just as much time learning the show as the actual cast member. So either way, it can make you feel upset.

Or you could look at it as a positive, as you still have a job, and you’re helping out when the show is in need. Also the cast member is probably relieved to know they have a reliable understudy, so really it must be an odd situation to be in.

This is all what I have assumed from the experience I had, so please correct me if I’m wrong.

After this I think understudies do not get enough credit for what they do, and that is a great shame. Every time I go to the theatre and it is announced an understudy is performing I think how incredible they are, and how I would never have noticed they weren’t the actual cast member themselves!

Jeffrey Tambor:
“My part had three lines. I said, ‘You look wonderful, sir,’ three times. All my friends said, ‘Do not take that role – and do not understudy. You’ll regret it the rest of your life.’ I did both of those things, and I’ve never regretted it once.”

Jon Cryer:
“I’ve been mistaken for a lot of people. Often for Matthew Broderick. I tell people not to feel bad. One of my first jobs was to be Matthew Broderick’s understudy. I was paid to look like him.”

In my opinion, understudies are heroes. Heroes waiting in the wings, to save the day.