school

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.

Are The Arts Appreciated In Schools?

So I have been having a very busy time at school recently, as I am in my final year at school studying for my GCSE’s. On top of that I like to take part in all of the performances going on, so I have been involved with the dance show, the school musical and the school carol concert.

While I enjoyed this term and had a great time performing, it obviously took up a lot of time, and this also meant some lesson time had to be sacrificed. The majority of teachers accepted this and let me catch up with the work I missed from their lesson, but some other teachers didn’t seem to agree with the idea.

As well as disliking the fact that we are busy with other areas of school life, it has come to my attention that GCSE results are handled differently when it comes to the performing arts. I take drama, dance and music at GCSE, and although I will be credited a separate grade for dance and drama, the school will not. This is because they are seen as “too similar”. This, I do not agree with.

Firstly, dance requires 4 pieces of practical coursework to be performed, as well as a written exam. Whereas drama requires 2 pieces of written coursework, a theatre review, and a practical exam. This automatically makes them differ from each other.

As well as this, being able to act does not mean you are a dancer, and this works both ways. I don’t see why the school should get any less credit for someone who has a passion for drama and dance, than for someone who has a passion for geography and history.

There may be another reason as to why they are seen as similar which I am overlooking, but personally I think they are very different subjects. Dance requires a lot of revision for the written exam, whereas I do not revise for drama except when I have lines to learn.

So really unless you go to a stage school, the education system just doesn’t seem to appreciate how demanding these subjects actually are. They are not easy at all. Especially music, as this requires just as much revision as any academic subject would. So when pupils are presented with options of what they want to study they shouldn’t be guided away from creative subjects by the teachers, as really all subjects are equally challenging in their own right.

Many schools in my local area have scrapped all of these subjects from their option blocks, and even as extracurricular activities. I think this is a great shame, as many pupils that went there with the hopes of taking a performing arts subject would have been devastated.

I think schools really need to start thinking more about this issue, as it’s not all about getting more pupils to take very academic subjects. It should be about making students who have a talent and a passion for other things able to take the subjects they want, and allowing the school to get just as much credit for these as the academic subjects.

Childhood Memories

I recently did a blog post about school musicals, and yes, most young children do take part in these. But I feel that not enough children are being taken to London or even to their local theatre to see professional productions. I think they should get to have those kind of experiences, as it could open doors for them creatively. And if not, at least they gave it a go.

As a child my whole family loved musicals, and they still do, so I was exposed to them from a very young age. I went to ballet at the age of two and a half, and then soon joined other dance classes as well. I loved musicals and performing throughout my childhood, and I had seen many local professional productions and other shows up until I was 7, but I had never been to see a West End show. So, on my brother’s 10th birthday, we went to see Disney’s The Lion King.

That day I realised what I wanted to do with my life. I had always known my purpose in life was linked to performing and musical theatre, but seeing this show changed everything. The actress playing Rafiki at the time (I sadly can’t find the programme, so I cannot name her) was incredible! She had such a powerful and rich voice, as did all the cast. I was blown away by the amazing costumes and talent I saw that evening. It really was a magical moment for me, because it confirmed for me that this was where I needed to be in the future.

I think that being creative as a child really helps as you get older, even if you just want a hobby. You never know, a child could be incredibly talented, but because they do not know much about an industry, or think it is a possible career option, they could never get to share their talent with the world.

So parents and teachers, please think about this and encourage your children and students to go to the theatre. If the West End is too expensive, then go to your local theatre one evening, or enrol your child in an art club or a youth theatre company, and maybe a child’s life could fall into place just like mine did.

School Musicals

School musicals. Love them or hate them, they happen every year. They give some talented students a chance to practice and improve their skills, and they give false hope to those who are cast “because everyone has to have a part”. But is the casting process in these shows realistic? Is it fair? We shall see.

In many schools it is a case of the older ones get the best parts, and the younger ones are usually just chorus members. “It’s their last show”, “You’ll get your chance when you’re older”, “They have more experience”. Yeah, right. This is not always the case. I understand that it may be their last performance with the school, but if they are not as talented as someone in one of the younger years, why should they be given the lead over them?

As a child I got fairly good parts, but I was usually an understudy who would be asked to fill in for a lead who was ill at the last minute. I was constantly told that I’d get my chance when I was older. And finally in primary school, I got into year 6 (the oldest year in the school) and I thought it was my time to shine. But no. That year they decided a year 4 should have the lead, as it is unfair to keep giving them to the older ones. Typical.

Then in secondary school, I was always a principal chorus member. Also, I continued to understudy leads, and as I mentioned on my blog before had to step in last year as Frenchy in Grease. And this year the production is Moulin Rouge, and I desperately wanted to be Satine. When I looked at the cast list it was the same as every year. The sixth form (the top of the school) were cast as the leads, and although I got a good part it was not what I had hoped for.

The other sad thing about these decisions is when you know you would work harder than whoever got the part over you, but the teachers just can’t seem to see that.

As well as this, some schools have started casting couples in the main romantic roles because they think it will be less awkward for them. Come on! It’s acting, people need to get over it.

Basically, it should be like a professional production. Whoever is the most talented, should be the lead characters, end of. Forget age, relationship status and other factors, the bottom line is the show will only be good if you cast the most talented kids. And if that means the youngest child in the show gets the lead then so what, they will do a much better job.

I’m sorry I haven’t written a blog post in so long, I’ve just had lots of school work to do recently, but I should be posting more regularly again soon. I’m in a play next week, so I may post about that, so watch this space.