8 Choosing the right piece

For drama school auditions, you’ll normally be asked to prepare one classical piece and one modern piece. It’s difficult to choose, especially the modern piece, because within that, you have such a wide range of material. Where do you start? Here are some tips that might help.

Firstly, consider what the panel is looking for. It’s not about being polished, or your ability to do a range of accents, or do wild character acting. Those are things the training will deal with in due course. We want to know what your imagination is like, how well you can make sense of the text, what sort of personality you have and – especially in recall auditions – how well you can take direction.

The best piece for you is the one that will best answer those questions. Therefore, choose something that’s close to your own personality, that has emotional territory you can identify with. It’ll also be more comfortable for you doing something that’s close to your own age range rather than giving us your King Lear.

Can you find the truth in the piece? Is there something about it that speaks directly to you and touches you? Some people like to write their own piece. If it’s well-written and gives you a good opportunity to show what you can do, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it.

Descriptive monologues (where you are describing a scene or a person) are less useful because they don’t usually demand much emotional cost, and therefore they don’t tell us enough about you as an actor. The piece should be lively, but you don’t need to shock the panel. It’s amazing how many sex monologues we get every year.

Yes, the panel will be looking for freshness, cost and individuality in your interpretation, but you should avoid hijacking the piece in order to give a blistering display of histrionics. This can lead you into the trap of pushing the emotion into unhelpful tension that merely gets in the way of telling us what you are like.

Finally, be flexible rather than rigid in your interpretation. If you’re asked to repeat your Hamlet monologue as a terrorist or a stand-up comedian, give it a go and see where it takes you. You may surprise yourself – and the panel.

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Kea Rea – Twitter
The Outstanding Actor – Amazon
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