theatre 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.

Everything’s as if we never said goodbye

When was your last blog post?

January, so about 5 months ago.

Why?

Unfortunately, I am at the age where I have to sit tonnes of exams (GCSEs), so I haven’t been able to write any blog posts as school seems to take up the majority of my time. I now only have 4 exams left, and I thought this was long overdue. 

Advice for people taking GCSEs next year?

  • Start revising a few months in advance, even if it’s only a little bit
  • Don’t underestimate how much work you have to do
  • Prioritise subjects you want to continue studying after GCSEs (and revise them more) 
  • Try not to cry
  • Make a pile of notes and books of subjects you have finished after your exams are over, so then you can destroy it all 

What musicals/plays have you seen this year so far? 

  1. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the nighttime (but I had to write an essay on it and take notes during it, so I probably missed a lot of it) 
  2. Cats 
  3. Matilda (for the second time) 
  4. And next week I’m going to see Children of Eden 

What sort of blog posts will you be writing once your exams are over, and when is that?

My last exam is on the 12th of June, so after that point I should be able to start posting again. I’m not really sure what I want to write about, so maybe I’ll just see what inspires me. Of course if there is anything I get asked to write about I will, but we shall see. 

This or That Tag (Musical Version)

This tag is mainly done by beauty gurus and fashion bloggers, so I thought I’d put my own spin on it. So, I filled a hat with the names of 20 musicals, and I had to pick out 2 at a time. I also have 10 “would you rather” categories (it should all make sense in a minute). So here goes:

1. Which would I rather see?
Jersey Boys or The Book of Mormon:
I was so annoyed when I got these two for this category, as they are both at the top of my list for shows I want to see next! But I’d have to say The Book of Mormon purely because I want to see I believe live really badly.

2. Which would I rather be in?
Les Miserables or Grease:
Ever since I have wanted to be in musicals I have wanted to be in these two. I have been in two productions of Grease (read about one of them in my post: The Understudy), and that was really fun so I would love to be in a West End version. But I have to chose Les Mis as I desperately want to be either Eponine, Fantine or Cosette. Imagine going out on stage and belting out one of the tragic songs from one of the greatest musicals of all time? I think it would be incredible to be a part of.

3. Which would I rather marry a character from?
Cats or Miss Saigon:
I knew straight away I would like to marry Chris from Miss Saigon. Who wouldn’t? I think I’d marry him and then sing Sun and Moon with him. Perfect.

4. Which soundtrack do I prefer?
Billy Elliot or Starlight Express:
I love the music from both of these shows, but several of the songs from Billy Elliot really move me (Mainly The Letter). So, I would have to chose Billy Elliot.

5. Which choreography would I rather perform?
The Wizard of Oz or Moulin Rouge:
I am currently in a production of Moulin Rouge, and although I love the show I’m not a big fan of the choreography. However I love doing the classic “wizard of Oz step/skip” that Dorothy and Co do on the way to Oz. So I’d have to pick dancing in Ruby Slippers over CanCan skirts.

6. Which would I rather was real?
Thriller Live or West Side Story:
It would be cruel to wish West Side Story was real, even if I would love to meet all the Jets. So, Thriller Live it is.

7. Which main character do I prefer?
Fame or Blood Brothers:
Fame is a great musical, but I don’t feel like I connect with the characters the way I connect with the Blood Brothers cast. Blood Brothers really moves me and Mrs Johnstone is one of my dream roles, so I would have to chose Blood Brothers.

8. Which costumes would I rather wear?
Matilda or Phantom of the Opera:
The costumes from Phantom are beautiful and very elaborate, but I have a huge desire to put on a Matilda blazer and sing Revolting Children, so I’d have to chose Matilda The Musical.

9. Which set do I prefer?
High Society or Wicked:
Let’s face it, who doesn’t love seeing the gorgeous emerald city and the ending of Defying Gravity? Also even the curtains have a beautiful map on them, so I think Wicked wins hands down.

10. Which would I rather see everyday if I had to?
Oliver or Joseph:
I really love Oliver, and it was one of my childhood favourites. But I can never get bored of the Joseph soundtrack, and it would be pretty cool to be able to see the Technicolour Dream Coat come to life every night, so Joseph is my winner for this category.

And there you have it, The This Or That (Musical Theatre Version) Tag.

Now normally at the end of a tag, the blogger is supposed to tag other blogs to do it as well. But seeing as I don’t know who it would chose, I tag any musical theatre or theatre blogger reading this to take on the challenge, and let me know you have completed it so I can read yours too. You could do this tag with any musicals or plays of your choice, so give it a go, and I look forward to reading more from this tag.

Audience Members: Take Note

Yesterday evening I went to see Miss Saigon at the Prince Edward Theatre in London’s West End, and it was amazing! The cast were all extremely talented, the music was of course amazing and I can’t even begin to count the number of times I got goosebumps, it was so moving (I cried several times), the set was beautiful and so well thought out, the helicopter was spectacular and overall it was an amazing show.

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However, I am quite short, and I happened to be sat behind a particularly tall man. Now don’t get me wrong, they stager the seating very well in theatres, but our height combination just didn’t add up. Having said that, I would have been able to see perfectly if he had been sitting up straight. As theatre goers will be aware, seats are arranged so people have a gap to look through (in between the two people in front of them). But, this man decided to lean to his right throughout the entire show so he could talk to his partner. This meant that I had to lean the other way so that I could actually see the stage, but as I’m quite small I don’t think this caused problems for anyone behind me.

Even though I did manage to lean far enough over to be able to view the performance, it got me thinking about things that audience members should consider. Things that they should know are okay to do, and things which are not. So, here’s a list of 5 things I think audience members should not do when at the theatre:

1) Eating during the interval is perfectly acceptable, I mean they do serve refreshments at the theatre after all. But, when there is an emotional and intense moment happening on stage and someone behind you is unwrapping a sweet, it can ruin and distract from the masterpiece in front of you. So please, eat before the show starts, and during the interval. But as soon as act 2 starts, please for everyone’s sake, put it away.

2) Using your phone. Fair enough, check your messages just before the show starts or during the interval. However when the overture starts your phone should be switched off. It can be very off putting to see a bright screen shining out of the corner of your eye, and it’s very disrespectful to those on stage who have worked hard to perform for you. Also, if you have paid a lot of money for your ticket, why text through the whole show? Make the most of it, you can use your phone anytime you want, but don’t waste the opportunity to watch the show you have come to see.

3) Please do not talk the whole way through the show. I think this one speaks for itself. It’s rude and distracting, so please save your comments for the interval and the end of the show.

4) Please sit properly in your seat, unless you have a specific reason why you cannot do so. I discussed my annoyance for this earlier, so I think you get the picture now.

5) You should always check how long the interval is, and keep track of the time. There is nothing more annoying than being ready for the start of act 2, the curtain going up again, and then having to stand up to let someone in your row back in. It blocks the view of those behind you, and disturbs all those around you. Just be sure to make it back to your seat in good time before act 2 begins, and then no one will complain.

But aside from all of this, do give standing ovations to shows that deserve it, do be polite and respectful to other audience members, do clap at the end of every song, do read the programme thoroughly, and do enjoy the experience. Going to the theatre is supposed to be an enjoyable thing to do, so don’t spoil it for others.