What happens in the Central School of Speech and Drama BA Hons Acting Audition? (Round 2)

(Featured Image : Riz Ahmed graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2006)

Hey Audition Hackers ! This article follows my very first one and is all about the second round audition at the Royal Central School speech or drama, specifically for the BA Hons acting. I will share here some drama school audition advice.

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.

The second Round Audition is about going beyond your limits

This article is going to be very different from the first one, because the second round at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is very, very different from the first round. If the first round is more about seeing if you have a sense of the qualities that make a decent actor, the second round is more about digging deeper to see where are your limits and if you are willing to go the extra mile.

Know Yourself

There is nothing I could write here that would prepare you for everything they can throw at you. But I can certainly talk you through a structure that they have in place. You will then adapt it, depending on your type of monologue and your own style of acting. The bottom line is : when you rehearse in the months preceding your audition, try to be aware of your weaknesses. Because that’s very probably what the jury is going to focus on in the second round. I already hear you thinking : “Oh yeah, thanks Axel, that’s very easy to say, but how do I DO that ?”. Well, let me break it down for you with examples of how to recognise you own weaknesses and the related exercises a second-round jury at Central can make you do. I’ll run you through the top 5 weaknesses (in no specific order) I have seen in myself and other actors and explain how the jury would address this :

  1. Projection
  2. Listening
  3. Command of the space
  4. Energy
  5. Credibility of your performance

1. Projection : Why is it important ?

If you happen to become a theatre actor, you may be performing in venues hosting up so several hundreds people. Ideally, they should all be able to hear you without you having to use a microphone.

Does it affect me ?

There are several easy ways to uncover projection issues. And it is mostly about being aware of how an audience can clearly hear you or not, even from a distance.

If other people regularly:

  • Tell you to repeat what you just said
  • Ask you to speak louder
  • Admit that they did not hear something you said earlier

…you may have a problem of projection. But don’t panic! It is usually quite easy to resolve.

OK But, what can I do about it ?

By switching from shallow breathing to diaphragmatic breathing, you will have more power to project you speech. Also, a lot of people adjust it once they become aware of it. It you still have difficulties, find a voice coach and work on that with him or her ! There are tons of exercises that you can do to gain projection.

What related exercises can I expect at a Central audition ?

They can ask you to stand as far as you can from them and ask you to recite your speech. They can also ask you to lie down, hold a chair in the hair, run around… What they are looking for is some nice power in your voice !

2. Listening : Why is it important ?

A lot of people hear each other but don’t actually listen. Being able to properly listen will help you to understand your partner state of mind and give the appropriate character response.

Does it affect me ?

To uncover this issue, try to be aware of how often you happen to:

  • Interrupt people before they finish talking
  • Try to make your point come across in a conversation before having understood the other person
  • Be thinking about the next line you have to say the other person is still talking to you

If it happens to you often, you probably have issues being an excellent listener. But again, don’t panic ! There are things you can do to work on that.

OK but, what can I do about it ?

Stop thinking about what you want to say and listen to the other person. What is their tone of voice ? Are they speaking slowly or fast ? What emotion are their sharing with their voice ?

Realise that you can also get a lot from others by observing. What is their body language ? What are their eyes saying ? How do they react to your behaviour ?

Practice, practice, practice. In everyday conversations. On the tube, when you watch TV Shows, always try to think : what is this character feeling ? That way you will become very emotionally available and will know how to respond.This is one of the best drama school audition advice I can give here !

What related exercises can I expect at the Central BA Hons Acting second round audition ?

A typical exercise they will do is to put a partner in front of you (usually a student of the school) and make them react to your monologue. Let us say that you are doing a monologue where you tell the other person that you want them to stay. Just to see how you react, the student could start walking away from you. In that case, you have to react appropriately. What choice are you going to make in that case ? Get angry ? Cry ? Hold their hand ? Whatever it is, DO IT. Do no hesitate. And even better, change tactics if you see that one tactic is not working properly. The panel here is trying to see if they can make you react to the other person. And reacting well needs proper listening.

3. Command of the space : Why is it important ?

The way your character behaves in the space tells a lot about them. The more you can move accordingly, the better your performance.

Does it concern me ?

If you often :

  • Ask yourself or your character what you should do with your body in the space
  • Don’t know where to be in social events
  • Feel tense or uncomfortable

..you guessed it, you have an opportunity to improve your command of the space !

Ok but, what can I do about it ?

Try to simply be aware of you body posture and movement. It is not about judging yourself but just trying to be conscious of your body in the space.

Actively make decisions in the space and do not think twice about it. Let’s say you are telling to someone in a monologue that you love them. If you have the impulse to step forward and reach out to them, do it! Even if it was not something you rehearsed.

Overall, trust yourself. Listen to your physical impulses and allow them to be!

What related exercises can I expect at the Central BA Hons Acting second round audition ?

They will usually ask you to do the opposite of what you are usually doing. If you move around a lot, they will probably ask you to stand still while doing your speech. If you are quite still, they will tell you to take command of the whole space. Whatever your style of physical movement is, be ready to try the opposite of that !

4. Energy : Why is it important ?

Ok, I know this sounds obvious. But I have seen so many actors (included myself, especially on a bad day !) going in with low energy levels, sometimes without even realising it. That is also because our everyday lives don’t really require high energy levels in many cases.

Does it concern me ?

Do you find yourself..

  • Often tired
  • Feeling that how tired you are often affects your interaction with others
  • Unsure of what kind of energy you should pass on to your character.

If you said yes to those, then you might encounter difficulties doing an energetic performance.

Ok but, what can I do about it ?

Sometimes, we don’t realise how our current fatigue can affect our acting. Simple but efficient : try to make sure to sleep well before the audition day and if it did not happen and you feel tired, be aware of it when you perform, so that you can adjust it.

Sometimes, you will think that your character does “require” low energy levels. But energy does not equal “dynamic performance”. If you are playing a character that is depressed, or sad, you need to put enough sad or depressed energy in your performance so that it can come alive and be heard !

What related exercises can I expect at Central audition ?

In most cases, the jury will be pretty straightforward regarding this one. They can simply tell you to do more of what you already doing. If your character is excited, they can ask you to be even more excited. If you are in love, they can ask you to be even more in love. Another technique they will use to bring that new spark in you is about raising the stakes. If you are in love, they could tell you to say those lines as if it is the very first time you are in love, and that you would kill for the person you love.

5. Believability : Why is it important ?

This is the trickiest one. Because it’s not about technique. And it can sometimes be subjective. But I’ll share with you what helped me to have the panel believing in my performance.

Does it concern me ?

If your speech :

  • Talks about something you never experienced
  • Does not create a deep, meaningful emotion in you
  • Talks about something that you may have experienced but that you still do not totally understand

Then the jury will have a hard time believing you.

Ok but, what can I do about it ?

If you have time, I would advise you to change your speech to something that deeply resonates with you. It will be so much easier to create a believable performance. If you don’t have time or want to do a speech talking about something unfamiliar to you, here’s a simple tip that could work :

  • Research the play and the character thoroughly
  • Once you have your monologue, improvise what happens before and after the speech
  • Repeat that process until you feel the connection to your speech and character growing into you. If you feel that little spark inside, those butterflies in your chest when you say your speech, congratulations ! You will probably be much more believable.

What related exercises can I expect at the Central audition ?

For the exercises, it is also a tricky one, because the panel won’t always let you know if they believe in your performance or not. But sometimes they do, and in that case they will simply say it : “I don’t believe that you are in love”, or “I don’t believe that you are angry at her”. In that case, don’t panic ! Simply remember why your character says what he says and really think about it when saying the words. The bottom line is to do something different than what you did earlier, be bald and raise the stakes.

If you follow those little tips, you will certainly reach the Final Round Audition of the BA Hons Acting ! Click here to discover everything about it.

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