Audition for Oxford World Theatre

I had my first professional audition recently, and it was a really positive experience. I met some wonderful people, got to sing a song and play my ukulele, and I got the job!

The audition was for Oxford World Theatre, a company founded by Oxford School of Drama graduate Daniel Zappi to ‘travel the world and bring people of all ages and nationalities on to the stage, in English’. The particular project I was auditioning for is three weeks in Sicily, during which I will be working with two groups of Sicilian teenagers to stage our adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream – an adaptation I will be writing over the next week or so!

A group of us gathered in Hammersmith for our two-hour audition with Daniel, and instantly there was a friendly, playful feel to the session. We had great fun playing drama games in the first half, then after a quick break we went on to our songs – we’d each been asked to write a short song. With my guitar currently lacking two strings, I decided to whip out the ukulele instead, and wrote a first verse and chorus using four chords: C, G, Am and F. I wanted to keep it simple to create a catchy tune.

It was my first time ever playing the uke in front of more than one person so I can’t pretend I wasn’t a little bit nervous, but there was such a sense of support and non-competitiveness from the rest of the group that I easily relaxed into it. At several points I honestly forgot we were all auditioning, and felt instead as if we were in a workshop where we’d all come to learn and share our creativity.

The whole thing was such a positive experience; I left the audition feeling buoyant and smiling. When I then found out the next day that I’d got the job, I was over the moon. But whether I had got the gig or not, I spent two hours in the company of mostly strangers, playing games and singing songs and connecting with one another, and in what other job can you do that?

‘Human is enough’

I was at an audition the other day where I had the pleasure of meeting Andrea Brooks, course leader of the MA Acting at East 15 drama school. The key piece of advice she gave us during the audition, especially when directing our pieces, was: ‘human is enough’.

When preparing audition speeches we so often tend to focus too much on how to stage the speech. We worry that by the fifth line we haven’t moved, so we put some movement in. The movement isn’t motivated by anything in particular other than the fear of remaining too static. This of course leads to meaningless movement and a performance based on artificial staging decisions rather than truth.

What Andrea is saying makes perfect sense. Strip back all the extra stuff – the artificial gestures, the unmotivated movement, the ‘my character is feeling angry so I should clench my fists and frown to show this’ – and just let the basic human truth of the situation speak for itself. I have adopted this phrase as a sort of acting mantra, and hopefully it will help me produce more organic and truthful performances from now on.