Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Making a Statement

Today, I received an application for 2012 through from our website.  The box marked 'Tell us why you want to audition for this course' read as follows (their use of capital letters, not mine):

"because i want to train more to be able audition for drama schools"

Short and snappy?  Concise and to-the-point?  Well, maybe.  But more honestly, for an answer that usually helps us get to know that candidate before their audition, it's lazy.

When colleges - or anywhere else for that matter - ask that question, it's so that we can get some idea of who the applicant is; what they want, what they know, what they care about.  It is the applicant's chance to show us what knowledge they have of the industry and what they know about the course, because if they're serious about attending they will have done some research and will know how they could fit in.  After all, it's no good applying to just anywhere, without having any idea about what to expect on the course and even whether it would provide you with what you're looking for.

Here are some tips for putting together a meaningful answer or personal statement:

1.  Always do your research so that you know what the course will offer you and what the audition panel are going to be looking for, and make sure you cover some of this in your answer.

2.  Don't be too much of a sales person.  It's great if you have a passion for your subject, but don't over-use that word and don't use dozens of exclamation marks...  Although you want to let the audition panel know what you can do and how much you love it, don't ram it down their throat on the form.

3.  The main thing that colleges want to know is that you are going to be a successful graduate if they take you on.  In our case, that means that you will be motivated, trainable, and have a good chance of getting into a top 2 or 3 year course when you graduate.  In the case of the big 2 or 3 year schools, they want to know that you are going to be employable and good to work with, and carry the name of their college forwards into the industry.

4.  Don't get hung up on the West End.  It is prestigious, rewarding and considered the top of the tree in Musical Theatre, but it is not the be-all and end-all and unless you are very lucky it won't make up the large majority of you early working life.  Instead, know your industry.  Regional theatres, touring theatre companies, lesser known writers, older more 'legit' shows - these all show an audition panel that you have a clear understanding of a career in the theatre world, and that you're not just a hobbyist who enjoys dancing and has seen one or two blockbuster shows in Town.

5.  Finally, make sure that you sound like 'you' in your statement or answer.  Don't over-write it so that it becomes complicated and rambling, but equally don't be so brief that they have no idea about who you are or what you're about.  Maybe get someone else to read it through and see if they could guess that it is you talking.

If you're thinking of a career in the Acting or Musical Theatre, you can apply online at www.rdtc.org.uk/apply_now.php - maybe using some of the tips above.  I will look out for your application form!

2010 Graduate, Natalie Issitt, now studying at Urdang Academy

Monday, 21 November 2011

Friends, foundations and fundraising

What an amazing few weeks this has been in the life of Read College.  Our first official fundraising event has raised an astonishing £1365.00 towards the 2012 Student Bursary fund thanks to some wonderful friends and supporters, and we have even had a cheque arrive through the letterbox from a movie star.

Recently, we've been contacting people with whom we have worked over the years to tell them about the work of Read College and the charity that we have established, and - on an off chance - I got a bit confident and emailed Judi Dench's agent (I was lucky enough to work with her eons ago as a child!).  The agency were good and thorough enough to forward the message to her PA, and her PA was equally efficient and passed the email along to Judi Dench herself.  It was a shock and a delight to receive a return email apologising that Dame Judi was unable to answer the email personally, due to being on set filming but that she would like to become a supporter of Read College and donate some money to fund our audition preparation master-classes for the season.

Meanwhile, we were also planning our first fundraising event for the college - An Evening of Cabaret with Jamie Read & Stars of The West End.  In other words, I managed to convince some wonderful friends with whom I worked on various shows as an actor, to give up their time for free and sing to help raise funds and awareness.  And that is exactly what they did.  Juliette Caton (Martin Guerre), Shaun Dalton (Les Mis), Helen Power (Chess) and Ellie Verkerk as MD (Jersey Boys), all gave up their precious day off to come out to the wilds of West Berkshire and help us fly the flag.

The event was an incredible success, bringing together our students past and present, their families, our families, friends, colleagues and strangers, and showing them what we do and why we do it.  People were incredibly generous with their time and money, and for both we are very grateful indeed.

So, in a time of austerity measures and funding cuts I am pleased to report that people's generosity of spirit seems to be as strong as ever.  Thank goodness for great friends!


Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Why audition for a Foundation Course?

Last week, we had our termly Advisory Board meeting with representatives of various sectors of the industry, who help us to ensure that Read College stays at the top of its game in Acting and Musical Theatre Foundation training.

One thought that we spoke about with them was the difficulty that we face with the dozens of small scale, unaccredited three-year courses popping up all over the country at the moment.  There is no harm in new colleges starting up - many have done a fantastic job and gone on to great things, but what happens to the students who enroll at less successful establishments which do not go on to get the respect and recognition of the industry?

A quote from top Musical Theatre agent and Read College advisors, James Beresford: 
"Going to just any three-year course is a waste of time - no agents or casting people will see you at the end of it. Make sure you go to one of the colleges that the industry recognises". 

And that is why we do what we do at Read. Last year 100% of our students were offered further training at schools including Urdang, Laines, Millenium and many others and they WILL get that industry exposure.  That's why making the right choices early on, and spending the time to train at Foundation level is so important.

So, if you are considering training in the industry, remember - do your research, and make sure the places that you audition at are going to get you to where you want to be.  If they're not, or if you don't get in to those courses first time round... Well, you know what to do.www.rdtc.org.uk/courses.html