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Applying for Drama school 2020?(24 Posts)
Anyone care to join me in a support thread for parents with kids applying to drama school for 2020?
I know I can go over to NotAPushyMum, but I'm more often on here.
DS is adamant he wants to try for drama school, even though DH and I have made him very aware of the <1% chance for most of them.
Currently debating with him if he should go to uni for a different degree first and then try for drama school at PG level.
He's a bit young and naive and I don't think he'd be ready emotionally.
We're a little further along this route as dd is finishing her foundation year and has an offer for next year at the same place.
She is 22, so it took her several years to get this far. She reckons now it is an advantage for the actual course to be that little bit older- she is getting more out of it, but that the audition practice was good to have.
The PG courses she reckons are good but VERY intense: they basically try to reach the same place in half the time. Her friends who have did it last year have ended up with agents, though, which is always a start.
Fingers crossed for your ds, if he really wants this, but you do have to really want it and be prepared to cope with being rejected again and again. Generally probably easier for a boy, though: fewer applicants and more parts at the other end.
Hi I’ll join in, DD is just finishing her A-levels and will be taking a gap year and applying for Drama school.
Has your DS looked at any courses or got any ideas where he wants to apply?
DD will be applying for professional training to start September 2020, but is choosing musical theatre rather than drama as she is very much a triple threat girl.
We did auditions for music college rather than drama but it's a similar situation - unlike universities international students complete on an equal footing so if there's say 25 places the number of applicants are huge (music college had auditions in other countries too!) She was the only person without an entourage (I had work) most had several family and their singing teacher with them, she used the college accompanist. And she was barely he only state educated kid that day, most were 2-3 years older and spent that time getting ready for the audition, not working.
I'm kind of saying prepare your kids not to be intimidated, she was immediately walking in having caught a coach at 5am to get there as opposed to the young lady before her who had stayed at the Dorchester. It's another world.
As it's so competitive have a plan b, is it a university drama course, English or a gap year?
Don't want to sound off putting as someone will get the place and why shouldn't it be your dc, but by preparing them at least they should be ready for the auditions. My DD's friend who did musical theatre auditions said it was similar minus the 14 year old Chinese prodigies. Dd is at university instead and not studying music but loving extra curricular music which she's enjoying being one of the best (the big fish in the small pond scenario).
like stucknoue says, dd also found it helps if you are not intimidated by the fact that a lot of the other applicants are expensively educated (assuming your ds is not) and/or have previous experience you haven't
it's good practice: you will be working with people from all different backgrounds and it helps if you are the kind of person who can feel comfortable with that
you won't get the entourage thing or the child prodigies at somewhere like RADA and Central; as straight drama schools are very much about emotional maturity it is almost certainly better to turn up alone and try to present yourself as a functioning adult
what she also says (and this is from several years of doing the audition circuit round all the big drama schools) is that for straight drama there doesn't appear to be any particular advantage in having been at a theatrical secondary, so not to worry if some of the other applicants seem to think they are bound to get in because of that
further tips from dd:
choose audition monologues that suit your age and personality- at this stage they want to see you act, of course, but they also want to get a bit of an idea of ^who you are^; don't worry too much about originality- but make sure you know the entire play!
be prepared to be asked to change your monologue and do it in a different way: they want to see if you can take direction
be friendly and polite from the moment you walk into the school- the receptionist and the students who take you round will report back to the admissions panel
if there is a workshop, throw yourself into it! have ideas- listen to the ideas of others! all theatrical training is about being able to be part of an ensemble
if there is an interview, be prepared to talk about why you want to train as an actor, why you chose that particular school (do your research on each one), and where you see yourself in 10 years time (be realistic but also make it clear you are very driven- if you aren't there's little point in applying)
also be prepared for the fact that many drama schools do not have halls, so you may be expected to cope with a certain amount of adult independence (teaming up with course mates to rent a house), and the facilities for student support may be much less than you'd expect from a university
Guildhall have a maximum no of times you can apply; the other schools will let you try again and again
if you take a gap year (with or without previous rejection), there is almost certainly no advantage in not working unless you are actually doing a theatre-related course. Anything you do can feed into your acting; dd worked in cafes and felt that was a brilliant opportunity to study how people move and talk; also to get her own confidence up around presenting herself
Thanks Cory and others for your helpful feedback!
DS has some +ves and -ves to his situation.
On the +ves, he is at an independent sixth form with a strong drama department and experience of getting kids into drama schools. He also has had good experience/ roles acting in productions since he was young.
I don't think he'd be too intimidated by the audition process. He did a summer school at one of the drama schools last year and was confident and fine about it (despite being the youngest there).
On the -ves, he is very young in his school year and still needs to do some growing up/ get some life experience as far as DH and I are concerned. He also has dyslexia which means his concentration levels ebb and flow a bit and he is still learning how to get better organised/ remember things.
We know a few people loosely connected with the industry and I know that it's as much about being hard-working on the self-marketing and business management side of things as it is just about talent. At the moment I can't imagine how DS would handle this well enough.
Errorofjudgement - he's attracted to all the big London drama schools - especially those that are more dedicated to acting, rather than musical theatre.
The debate we're having at the moment is whether he should go and get a more 'vocational/skills' degree first. He is quite talented in photography/design/film editing, so could be something like graphic design or TV & film production.
My DD did an audition prep course at Read College in February that she found very useful. Lots of feed back Monologues and where to find appropriate ones, also appropriate songs - she always sings songs for parts that she is suitable for and tries only to use lesser known musicals so there is less comparison.
Dance is the weakest of her triple threats and so at the moment she is working hard to improve her technical ballet.
LlamaDrama, I'd say
otoh yes, you do need to be quite mature in many ways to make the most of drama school
it's not just about getting in, it's about staying power, and about being in a competitive place when your 3 years come to an end
otoh part of that maturity is you don't let your parents make decisions for you
so he is the one who needs to try to gauge if this is the right time for him to go (or at least to attempt to go) or if he should take his time
does he feel mature enough to cope with an unusually punishing programme (including the need to be right in there networking from the start), does he feel mature enough to cope, quite possibly, without the usual pastoral and accommodation support that universities offer?
only he can know
also, what to do with any intervening time: how much debt does he want (if he gets into a school which allows for student loans) or how much money does he need to earn in advance? how would he fund an MA on top of a first degree?
Can someone explain if I've understood the complexity of the applications process correctly please?
As far as we can work out there are three different routes with different drama schools linked to different ones, so,
- via traditional UCAS form e.g. GSA/ Surrey Uni, Central SSD etc
- via UCAS Conservatoire applications e.g. Bristol Old Vic? (and this is separate to the 'main UCAS' right, and doesn't count towards the 5 listed on UCAS?
- directly to the school e.g. RADA?
Is there any reason why he couldn't apply to Uni for a different subject (e.g Film & TV) and try for drama school via the other two routes (assuming he won't get in and he's doing it for the 'practice' I guess?)
Hi LlamaDrams, I think you’ve got that correct, so you can apply for different courses on the ucas form compared to the cucas form.
HI, placemarking as I'm at work at the moment but my dd is i nher first year of professional MT training (trinity Diploma) so I've got a bit of experience of the whole application process. Dh also teachers/has taught in 5 different drama/MT colleges so I have a bit of insight from the other side.
Lonecat - my dh is friends with the owner of Read College. It does some great foundation/audition prep courses.
My DD struggled to make a decision between a subject degree or drama school.
In the end she chose the subject degree and gained a place at Edinburgh Uni. Overtime she has realised that the degree subject isn't for her but the absolute bonus of Edinburgh ( which we hadn't planned or thought through and happily has been coincidence) is that there is a wealth of extra curricula drama (opera societies, Footlights etc ). Through this she has been part of a big show every year, staged in a theatre. For her it has been 'on stage' but productions involve all roles, choreographer, lighting, producer, director etc.
In addition the real bonus of Edinburgh has been that for the last three years, she has, with the uni been part of a cast in the Edinburgh Fringe shows.
Now post grad she will apply for masters in performing arts.
Just another thought for you.
Onetoanother - thanks for that insight - yes, this is sort of the route we imagined would suit DS best and choosing a uni with a good drama scene would be key.
We know people who are trying or have gone through the different routes and it breaks my heart to see one or two who are now in their early 20s, having tried two or three times to get into drama school and are still working retail and low paid jobs while they 'wait' for their moment of success (if it ever comes). We also know several people who have done Uni first for another subject and then an MA in acting and it seems they at elast have something to fall back on.
There is the cost issue of course.
This is DDs dilemma now. She has always intended to take a gap year, and is waiting on her exam results before deciding which way to jump. Heart says acting, head says degree then acting! Hopefully a year out will help her decide!
We know people who are trying or have gone through the different routes and it breaks my heart to see one or two who are now in their early 20s, having tried two or three times to get into drama school and are still working retail and low paid jobs while they 'wait' for their moment of success (if it ever comes
This was my dd but I can't say my heart was exactly breaking for that reason. If anything I thought it would be good for her to be toughened up a bit before embarking on a career that was likely to be filled with uncertainty. Also useful to get experience in the kind of job you can dive in and out of between acting jobs. She is now an experienced barrista and that kind of work is always around.
But then, though dd is quite clever in her way, I was never quite sure (being an academic myself) that she was the type that would thrive at university. Which would also be heart-breaking.
My dd is very academic (her teachers were talking Cambridge calibre) but I spoke to her last night about her course and she said she can always go back to academia at a later date. This is he chance and she doesn’t want to turn round in however many years time and say what if.
Cory - sorry, I didn't mean my post to come across as a bit sniffy about people working in bars/coffee shops/ retail. It's just that for the particular friends I'm thinking about I'm not really sure if drama school will ever materialise for them and I wonder at what point they (or their parents?) should say, OK, enough's enough, I might need to get on with my life and move onto Plan B.
I think the kids that do make it to drama school often have that noticeable 'spark' /magic/look/ personality that makes you spot them in a performance. None of the twenty-somethings I'm thinking about seem to have that really. Some of them have now done 4-5 years of the local amdram circuit and are still hoping for their lucky break. That's what I find a bit heart-breaking.
But I completely agree with the idea of working as a chance to grow up, experience the real world, mature , gain confidence with a variety of people etc. DS woudl definitely benefit from that!
I think the question of when is it time to look at plan B is not only different for each individual, but also is different depending on your specialism.
From what I’ve read, it seems as though generally Dancers start early, perhaps at 16 for Diploma or degree training.
Musical theatre at 18 or 19 usually after a BTEC or A levels
But drama schools like older candidates with a bit of life experience and maturity so can easily be in their early 20s before getting accepted.
Not at all offended, LlamaDrama. I think error has it right that different things are right for different people- and most definitely for different paths.
Tbh I am not sure dd really had that much star quality when she was younger: she was rather quiet and shy, and traumatised by years of disability and misdiagnosis- definitely not the kind of person who could ever hope to be "discovered".
Let's put it this way- she was never the Mary of the Nativity play.
But what she did have (beyond, I suppose, a certain amount of talent) was commitment, the willingness to work hard and to find out everything she could. And eventually the awareness that social skills and presence are things you can work on, just as you can work on your voice and your movement.
In that respect, she is very like her cousin who decided around the age of 10 that he wanted to be a cellist, but didn't tell anyone- because, again, no obvious genius. All he did was make a private decision to practise one hour more every year. He eventually arrived at the conservatoire of Vienna and cheerfully reported back to the family "I am less talented than everybody else so I'm going to have to work harder". Of course that approach doesn't work if you're tone-deaf. But if you are reasonably talented, it's probably not a bad way of looking at it.
Dd is immensely practical: she has a good idea of her casting and the kind of work she might get. Not looking for any big breaks but hoping to be able to keep her head above water in small parts and modelling. She is just finishing a foundation course and will be doing the 2 year course at Fourth Monkey. Her plan is to try to work in the industry for 5 years or so after than and then, if she can afford it, to do the MA at one of the more traditional schools.
if drama school will ever materialise for them
Several members of my family over 3 generations have done either full time conservatoire training in top national places, or simply worked in the industry by starting at the bottom. I'm an academic in an allied discipline.
I think, it's not really clear for those outside the industry, just how talented you have to be to make a living at it. And that talent and special "spark" (which is often about talent and bloody hard & smart work) has to be really special. I see a lot of talented, but not excessively talented, young people - they're good at say, school or youth theatre level, but not quite good enough. It's tough, and gets tougher.
But on the other hand, there are other ways into the industry. You don't have to go to drama school! I know several actors who are in regular work, who didn't. It can be done.
Just received my dd's headshots. And I can actually see that special spark! But it is not apparent in the older photos I have of her: you can see a pretty girl, certainly, but a little reserved, a little ordinary. That commitment, that training, all that hard work has actually made a difference.
That’s so lovely to hear! They work so hard and it’s great to see the results!