(Featured Image : Kit Harrington graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2008.)
Hey Audition Hackers ! In this drama school audition advice post, my very first one, I will share everything I have experienced in the first round audition of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama audition (aka Central or CSSD) for the BA Hons Acting, as of 2019.
Note: Central is widely regarded as a Top 8 Drama School in the UK, a top 5 Drama School in London and as one of the best Drama Schools in the World.
How does the day start ?
The Central Audition day starts usually around 9 am. Some students of the school are in the hall to welcome you and are usually very warm and smiley. You will be asked to give your name to them, and they will give you a form to fill. You will have to write down some basic info about yourself and the monologues you will perform. You’ll have a fair amount of time to do that in their main amphitheatre which is a few steps away from the entrance. Expect to see up to 100+ other candidates in the auditorium with you but don’t feel intimidated, after all you are not directly in competition with anyone at this stage!
Once this is done, they take you to a rehearsal room where they will make you do some physical and vocal exercises so that you feel nice and relaxed. This is really a highlight in their audition process as very few drama schools provide that. Doing all these exercises will warm you up thoroughly for what is to come.
At the end of this warm-up session they divide you in groups of 10/12 people, and you are asked to give back your forms.
Depending on the group you end up with and the BA Hons you chose as your first choice in your application form (Acting/Musical Theatre/Collaborative and Devised Theatre), you will be assigned to a different group leader, which will be, accordingly, a BA Acting, Musical Theatre, or Collaborative and Devised Theatre student. Also, there are three different things you will do in the morning, in no specific order:
- Panel Audition
- Physical and Vocal Workshop
- Orientation Tour
What happens in the Panel Audition ?
You will have two people assessing your monologues in the panel audition. At this stage, they are most likely former students of the School, and often currently actors/theatre directors or teachers in their thirties. They will first make your whole group sit down in the audition room, introduce themselves, and then give the order in which you will be called in the audition room. Then you will have to get out and wait for your turn. Many people rehearse their speech until the very last minute. My personal recommendation is to NOT do that. You prepared your speeches for months. You know exactly what you have to do and any last-minute adjustment attempt can only get you even more nervous in this already tense moment. Sit down and relax, do some movement exercises if you want, do some vocal exercises, chat with some available candidates if it helps you but keep it to that. You don’t want to get into this audition room thinking about what you messed up in a last-minute monologue rehearsal.
Once it is your turn, you will be asked to walk into the audition room. They are usually warm and friendly, and they will ask you how you are doing. This is a great occasion to try and be calm and show that you are focused and ready to go. You will then be asked to choose between your modern and classical monologue to start with. Once this is done, they will tell you to stand behind a real or fictive line in the room and start with your monologue of choice. The first time I auditioned I was really surprised to see how far back this line actually is. Most of us usually train in our flats/houses and don’t really have a sense of how important it is to project our voice. So, I apologise to your neighbours in advance, but it is VERY important for you to speak LOUD and CLEAR when you train. It is simple but one of the most useful drama school audition advice I can share here. If you do so, you’ll be very comfortable on D-Day.So back to the audition room. You will have roughly two minutes to deliver each of your monologues. If you go over this limit, they will stop you. But don’t worry about this, they stop a lot of people before the end of their speech, but it doesn’t mean that you failed. I was stopped several times before the end of my monologues but still ended up passing this round.
Try to not read into anything they do. Don’t let any remark or attitude of the panel get into your head. Come in, do what you have to, and get out. I assure you that this is the best you can do. It’s easy to start doing predictions or comments about what happened in the room and to compare yourself with others, but I assure you, by experience, that this is often only a waste of your time and energy. And trust me, you need the latter for what is to come !
What happens in the Physical and Vocal Workshop ?
This session can vary depending on the year you apply and on the people that assess you but the structure of it is mostly the same. You will start doing some movement exercise with the other members of your group. This is to assess how connected you are, to three elements: yourself, the space and the people around you. The panel wants to see you focused and energetic, taking some confident command of the space, and interact well with others. If you do all that, I can guarantee that you will succeed in this workshop. The movement exercises they will ask you to do can include, and is not limited to :
- Balancing out the whole space by filling the gaps in the rehearsal room
- Create a story using still “images” of your body and the bodies of other group members in the space
- Passing a fictive ball between you and the others
Once you are done with the movement exercises, they will ask you to sing an extract of a song of your choice and also to say an extract of your alternative classical ( the one you did/will not do in the panel audition). Don’t worry if you are not a “great singer”, what they are looking for is how well you act within your song.
What happens in the orientation tour?
This is one of my favourite parts of Central First Round audition. For roughly half an hour, you have a Student of the School (often studying in the BA Hons which is your first choice), answering any question you have and taking you to the rooms that you will use on a daily basis if you get in. Type of training, hours, teachers… She/He will tell you everything you need to know.
Once you’ve done all three of these, you’re done for the morning. It should be around 12pm. You know have one hour to eat and are asked to come back at 1pm.
At 1pm, they will take you to a room where they will announce the results. If your name is called, it means that you passed the first round audition of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Congratulations! You will have one, two, or three auditions in the afternoon corresponding to the three BAs (Acting, Musical Theatre, and Collaborative and Devised Theatre), depending on what they think you are fit for.
This will lead you to your Second Round of the Central Audition, happening the same day.
Click here to Read about the second Round of the Central BA Acting Audition !