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    Male in early 20s.

    I would greatly appreciate contributions from anyone and everyone but particularly those involved in some way with drama schools/acting training regarding my predicament.

    I have wanted to be an actor since I was a small child but it was only recently that I realised that I don't want to be on my death bed and regret not having pursued it out of fear of failure or periods of unemployment. I have been miserable for a long time and I've realised it's at least largely because I've been repressing this performer in me and I now have a reason to feel good about getting up in the mornings. Even without experience I am quite sure this is what I want to do. At my worst, when with people I am comfortable around and doing an impromput recital or skit, I am affected, self-conscious and stylised on other actors, but at my best I would say I have strong presence, distinct character and a strong instinct for timing and tonal inflections, gesticulations etc. I believe that with training I could become a strong actor.

    I have therefore decided to spend much of the rest of my gap year exploring acting in preparation for the January deadline for drama school applications.

    Questions (suggestions on any or all appreciated)

    - How should I use this time to best discover my acting mettle and build a more impressive resume for the auditoners?

    - How do I 'learn to act' to a standard high enough to learn to act?

    - If I am to do this I want to be doing it at a top London school. Should I just not even bother when I have had virtually no formal acting experience at all? What should I do to increase my chances of acceptance?

    - How wise/advantageous/value for money etc. is a 3-year drama school course at one of the top London schools? What is the difference for your career prospects with a foundation instead of a BA? Would it be better to do a standard degree and try to break into acting afterwards - if so, how should I go about doing so?

    - I am no Quasimodo but no Adonis either, but I feel that I have one of those 'character' faces that significantly lends itself more to some roles and less to others. How will this impact my chances at an audition?

    - If it all goes potty, what will I be able to do with an acting degree re gaining entry into graduate-level employment elsewhere? Are there any conversion courses that apply to drama school degrees as well, for example? Or is there no turning back?

    Any guidance, suggestions, comments would be appreciated muchly.
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    I wrote an advice guide sometime back, which is still applicable and can be viewed here:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=996399

    Note, I'm not an actress myself, but I am friends with people who have studied at drama school in the past.

    I'll try my best to answer some of your questions.

    - How should I use this time to best discover my acting mettle and build a more impressive resume for the auditoners?
    From my understanding, and I could be completely wrong about this, but the impression I got from a friend of mine who underwent the audition process is that they don't particularly look at what you've done previously, merely how you perform at the audition itself. In this regard, having an impressive resume is less necessary. Again, every drama school, and even auditioner, is different, and they may factor past experience.

    - How do I 'learn to act' to a standard high enough to learn to act?
    This is a difficult because, like any creative craft, mastering the art of acting has a degree of subjectivity. That said, gaining an understanding of the various acting techniques such as the Stanislavski's method or Meisner technique will hopefully help. I would spend some time reading about these techniques and others. Aside from the theory, watching performances, preferably from existing students or alumni of the drama schools you wish to study at, should prove insightful. Many of them are open to the public. I've been to many RADA productions, for instance.

    - If I am to do this I want to be doing it at a top London school. Should I just not even bother when I have had virtually no formal acting experience at all? What should I do to increase my chances of acceptance?
    As mentioned above, I don't believe they place too much of an emphasis on your past experience, rather how you perform at the audition. This is why it's incredibly important to choose your audition speeches carefully.

    - How wise/advantageous/value for money etc. is a 3-year drama school course at one of the top London schools? What is the difference for your career prospects with a foundation instead of a BA? Would it be better to do a standard degree and try to break into acting afterwards - if so, how should I go about doing so?
    From my understanding, for almost all of these drama schools, especially those based in London, the BA (Hons) Acting is their primary course that receives the most attention from casting agents at the end. It's the course that receives by far the most auditions for as a result. Let's put it this way, those making it big starring in high budget television series and Hollywood films or West End productions typically come from the undergrad.

    Someone I know applied to the BA (Hons) Acting at Drama Centre London and during the audition they recommended that she consider the foundation course instead that they offer, possibly because they felt she was not quite ready for the undergrad.

    - I am no Quasimodo but no Adonis either, but I feel that I have one of those 'character' faces that significantly lends itself more to some roles and less to others. How will this impact my chances at an audition?
    Although Drama Schools will never admit to this, they are businesses as well and they often have to factor how their students look if they've already decided on the productions they will be working on that year. As you know, acting is a visual medium, after all, and the kind of roles one gets will typically be based on how they look, at least in part.

    - If it all goes potty, what will I be able to do with an acting degree re gaining entry into graduate-level employment elsewhere? Are there any conversion courses that apply to drama school degrees as well, for example? Or is there no turning back?
    It's a very vocational degree, but that doesn't mean you couldn't get your foot into the door of another sector. Many acting graduates opt to go into production if things don't work out or they might consider a postgrad in a related field like Drama Therapy.

    Hope this helps.
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    I have known a number of people who have had acting careers to some level. Two of them moved into careers behind the camera, one is still acting, and the other two are in different careers. Not sure about the others.

    The only thought is to be prepared for disappointment and significant lengths of time without acting work.
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    (Original post by Aiko)
    I wrote an advice guide sometime back, which is still applicable and can be viewed here:

    http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=996399

    Note, I'm not an actress myself, but I am friends with people who have studied at drama school in the past.

    I'll try my best to answer some of your questions.



    From my understanding, and I could be completely wrong about this, but the impression I got from a friend of mine who underwent the audition process is that they don't particularly look at what you've done previously, merely how you perform at the audition itself. In this regard, having an impressive resume is less necessary. Again, every drama school, and even auditioner, is different, and they may factor past experience.



    This is a difficult because, like any creative craft, mastering the art of acting has a degree of subjectivity. That said, gaining an understanding of the various acting techniques such as the Stanislavski's method or Meisner technique will hopefully help. I would spend some time reading about these techniques and others. Aside from the theory, watching performances, preferably from existing students or alumni of the drama schools you wish to study at, should prove insightful. Many of them are open to the public. I've been to many RADA productions, for instance.



    As mentioned above, I don't believe they place too much of an emphasis on your past experience, rather how you perform at the audition. This is why it's incredibly important to choose your audition speeches carefully.



    From my understanding, for almost all of these drama schools, especially those based in London, the BA (Hons) Acting is their primary course that receives the most attention from casting agents at the end. It's the course that receives by far the most auditions for as a result. Let's put it this way, those making it big starring in high budget television series and Hollywood films or West End productions typically come from the undergrad.

    Someone I know applied to the BA (Hons) Acting at Drama Centre London and during the audition they recommended that she consider the foundation course instead that they offer, possibly because they felt she was not quite ready for the undergrad.



    Although Drama Schools will never admit to this, they are businesses as well and they often have to factor how their students look if they've already decided on the productions they will be working on that year. As you know, acting is a visual medium, after all, and the kind of roles one gets will typically be based on how they look, at least in part.



    It's a very vocational degree, but that doesn't mean you couldn't get your foot into the door of another sector. Many acting graduates opt to go into production if things don't work out or they might consider a postgrad in a related field like Drama Therapy.

    Hope this helps.
    Thank you so much for this! A few more questions...

    Do you have any thoughts about what experience I should prioritise getting this year?

    I read your other post's info about audition speeches, but do you have any advice about knowing what to choose? Would it be sensible to play safe and stay within the CSSD audition speech list for all schools? Sticking to your age range advisable etc?

    Could you give me any pointers to any acting courses I can do meanwhile/general drama-related opportunities available? I remember hearing that Colin Firth joined the NT and worked as a wardrobe attendant before doing any acting, but I can't seem to find any means of soing something similar online.
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    (Original post by barnetlad)
    I have known a number of people who have had acting careers to some level. Two of them moved into careers behind the camera, one is still acting, and the other two are in different careers. Not sure about the others.

    The only thought is to be prepared for disappointment and significant lengths of time without acting work.
    I realise it can be a rocky ride, but better to do something that makes you happy and guarantee instability than guarantee stability but also misery.

    Of course I will probably continue to wonder even if I get into school whether I am bring brave or just utterly foolish
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    (Original post by Magnifico)
    Thank you so much for this! A few more questions...
    No problem, glad I could help in some way.

    Do you have any thoughts about what experience I should prioritise getting this year?
    If you could get involved in some productions, whether they be in amateur dramatics or for a film student's project, it should help. Equally, if you have the money, many of these drama schools offer short courses, some of which, I believe, are designed to help prepare you for drama school entry.

    I read your other post's info about audition speeches, but do you have any advice about knowing what to choose? Would it be sensible to play safe and stay within the CSSD audition speech list for all schools? Sticking to your age range advisable etc
    Choosing an audition speech from the list CSSD provide is playing it safe, but many other applicants will be using these speeches too because they share the same mindset as yourself. This could potentially work against you because the auditioners will have seen these speeches many times over, meaning they could be more critical. You also stand out less. By extension, the auditioners will know these speeches inside out, back to front, so will have a preconceived notion of how they should be performed. Just something to bear in mind. On the other hand, choosing an audition speech they're less aware of could mean they're not as critical, but equally, this could also work against you because they're less acquainted with the material you've chosen. They could also consider the speeches inappropriate. Of course, you will need to practice the speeches CSSD have chosen if you wish to apply there, but that doesn't mean you can't choose some other speeches for the other schools you're applying to.

    In terms of choosing your speeches, I'd personally recommend sticking to characters that are similar in age. In fact, I'd shy away from non human characters or those of the opposite gender (yes, some applicants do this). As I'm sure you know, there are plenty of resources online to help you find the right speeches. I've included a few links in the thread I linked to in my previous post at the bottom.

    Could you give me any pointers to any acting courses I can do meanwhile/general drama-related opportunities available? I remember hearing that Colin Firth joined the NT and worked as a wardrobe attendant before doing any acting, but I can't seem to find any means of soing something similar online.
    Unfortunately, I can't specifically recommend any short courses, but as I mentioned above, most drama schools offer them. The only downside is that they tend to be quite pricey.
 
 
 
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