Auditions and why I decided to turn down my offer at Urdang

Yesterday, I was involved in helping out at my drama school’s audition process. A process, I, myself was involved in this time last year. It’s crazy to think how fast it’s all came around. I remember my auditions so clearly. Looking at the auditionees yesterday reminded me of those same feelings I was experiencing last year.

Nervous, driven and determined – I wanted to do well.

I had a few friends with me at the audition on my particular day at Laban – shoutout to Lauren Gibbon and Tara Moore.

My audition at Trinity Laban

Upon entering the audition room we proceeded to get warmed up to Vicki’s famous music mix which consisted of the Pussycat Dolls and Dreamgirls ‘One Night Only’. It involved a lot of cardio, stretching and a hands/arms movement that to this day I still get wrong. We learnt exercises from the corner and then mastered a routine, later in which we would have to perform it to the panel and the sea of people auditioning.

After completing this we went onto learning a short snippet of ‘Twenty Million People’ from My Favourite Year. In small groups we had to improvise a scene prior to the musical interlude. Next came our first choice song. I had been suffering from a persistent cold during most of my auditions and I just so happened to have chosen a Tenor’s song for my auditions despite being more of a baritone in vocal range. So when I did get up to sing I was constantly thinking – DON’T FUCK THIS UP.

My voice just wasn’t at the level I had hoped it to be on that particular day. However I proceeded on to the next half of the audition. Myself and the panel alone. This was where I got to showcase everything I had prepared. Two contrasting songs, a solo dance piece and a monologue. I started with my monologue which was about a drunk Russian on a train explaining his life. I even brought in a hipflask with me 😉 Next was my song – I was told to get angrier and my acting teacher, Helen, got up with me and work-shopped the song making me box with her. It was another one of those moments where the room was spinning and I felt free.

Then came my dance solo – a contemporary dance choreographed by myself to ‘When the tears fall’ by Tim Hughes. At this point I was majorly out of breath but the panel continued to ask me questions, I had to briefly stop, twice for water but I answered them all eventually. I just remember it being a really good day in general, I liked the atmosphere, the location and the people. so I remained optimistic. Out of all of my auditions Trinity Laban was the place that I got to workshop my material the most.

This was exactly the reactions I saw from the people auditioning yesterday. They looked like they were having an amazing time. Being on the other side this time round was crazy. It gave me an insight to how I was actually marked based on my audition and all the different factors that contribute to it being a YES or a NO. It was a great learning experience for me, I got to look at the different features within performance through others that didn’t quite work and relate them to my own performance. Physicality is a big thing and how one presents their self to a panel is another factor that can contribute to you either getting a place or not. It was eye-opening. I’m glad I helped out.

Urdang

Speaking of auditions, two weeks ago I received an email from the Urdang Academy inviting me back to a funding audition this year. Last year when going through the process I decided to defer my place at the academy for financial reasons, so technically, if I wanted to, I could start at their institution either on the diploma course as they originally offered me or on the degree in September of this year. For the past two weeks I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of going, or not, to try out the funding audition again.

My original idea was – why not, its free and it would be good to get more of an inclination as to how they feel about me? On the other hand my brain was debating like crazy analysing whether or not it would be a good idea and what I’d actually gain from it. I already have my place on my 3 year degree at Trinity Laban and I’m absolutely loving it so why would I want to jeopardise that? Urdang, like Trinity, was one of the schools that gave me a fuzzy feeling inside when auditioning there, I really did enjoy it and the glimpse of training I experienced on that day. When I received the email it got my heart feeling excited all over again  and so in order to make sense of it all I confided in my friends and past teachers on the matter.

Urdang is an exceptional school and I am by no means slating it but when thinking things through thoroughly I decided to decline the opportunity to audition there again. I’ve settled in well here at Laban and feel as though it’s the best choice for me, who I am and what I hope to achieve at the end of my 3 years. I guess you have to trust your gut and trust the information it’s giving you.

But for now though its back to my Valentines Day plans – Palentines: Sharing Valentines with your Pals. A concept thought of by a few of the second years who have invited us all round to their home for an evening of games and wine. Have an amazing evening everybody and good luck to all you auditionees out there. Shine like the stars you’re destined to be.

NOTE: The featured photo is a shot from when I was dancing at the Jellicle Ball. I felt it was appropriate for the stagey topic of this post.

How did I end up here?

So I figured I needed to give you all a bit of a background check on who I am and how I’ve gotten to where I am today. Currently that’s lying in bed feeling nauseous and very sorry for myself but still theatre school is a hard thing to get into and there are thousands of kids out there that stress so much especially when it comes to audition season as I’m sure there were equally thousands more who stressed about getting into their top choice university.

I first started my training at the age of 8 years old at an institution called ‘Stagecoach’ Warrington. For those of you that don’t know what that is it’s a performing arts school that provides training in all three disciplines allowing students to embrace their talents and help nurture and inspire them along the way. After 5 years of training there I definitely left feeling inspired and this was mainly due to the teachers I had there. They all helped me, each in their own way,  have fun and love the craft I’m now, 11 years on, still training in. So if you’re reading this thankyou Liz, Louise, Gemma, Letitia, and various others over the years there.

The really good thing about Stagecoach, being as young as I was, was all the opportunities you had to shine whether it be in the summer schools or for their agency. I remember countless auditions I went to and my first ever job – a voice over for Nickelodeon’s ‘Yo Gabba Gabba’. That was a really fun day being in the studio. During this time I was also doing a lot of panto work.

I will forever love panto and I think it’s such an important part to someone’s stagey life. I’ve got so many memories of my 4 years there with ‘New Pantomime Productions’. To the amazing casts each year and to the friends I got to become acquainted with, the memories are just beautiful. One stand out moment for me was during a showcase we all put on a presentation to the cast where the director would come and it was basically a really fun day to give back to the cast. I had a solo in it and Simon Barry, the director, approached myself and Charlotte and asked us if we’d like to sing in the evening’s performance. After rushing off side of stage for a quick change I was then brought back onto the stage. This was the first real moment I’d ever been mesmerised by the joy I felt being up there about to sing. It was a consolidating moment in my life where I said to myself “Ok George, this is what you’re going to do.” I was blinded by the lights and I felt as though it was me vs the world. For a 10/11-year-old I found it an amazing experience. The people who got me through it were of course the people I like to call my stage moms, the chaperones. One person that will forever have a place in my heart is a woman called Kay Andrew. She was my chaperone almost every year, except one, I think. She’d always be there to cheer us on and look after us and keep the spirits high! She was just an amazing person inside and out! I met such an array of people who were all fantastic to us, they truly were the best years of my life.

I then had a little bit of a break through high school and just got through my GCSE’s. I did study Drama and Dance though. This was when I first got a taste of my passion for dance and this all comes down to who’s teaching you. I happened to have the best little scouse woman I know (Sara Barnes) and I’ll always be grateful for the time she helped me in more ways than just being my dance teacher but someone I considered a friend. 

During the latter of my high school years I joined ‘Art in Motion’ run by Ashley Jacobs, someone I first met during my time in panto. This was when I first started studying syllabus work for the first time. It was fun, we had a great laugh and she continuously pushed me to do better. The shows I done there were some of the best dance shows I’ve ever been a part of!! There’s a real sense of family there not only with the students but with the teachers aswell, so thankyou for always welcoming me and helping me progress.

I then went onto studying my a-levels, Dance, Drama, History and Performing Arts eventually narrowing it down to just Drama and Performing Arts in my second year. These two years were a time of growth not only as a person but as an artist so to speak in training. I can not begin to tell you how much I learnt in the two years I spent at Priestley College. Here I made some of the best friends in my life, it was a place we all called home and that’s all down to the staff there. From the endless extra singing lessons to go over songs for auditions to the extra rehearsals they helped out with for dance solos and group pieces, to the countless time spent working on monologues and the unanimous support from all of the performing arts department. They really are a credit to the college. They helped me massively and without them I wouldn’t have gotten into the schools I did. So I’d just like to give a quick thankyou to Sarah, Abbie, Nancy, Helen and Rachel if you ever read this. Know you’ve helped shape me in one way or another.

So then came the dreaded auditions for uni/theatre school where you’re fighting for your place against the next guy who looks just like you and in my case probably has a better range.. atleast than I did during my auditions. My audition process was ok, I’d say. Despite being ill for virtually all of them I somehow mustered on and made the process enjoyable. I auditioned for 7 schools in the end to which I got places at 4 schools. Two of which being The Urdang Academy and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. During the spring I received confirmation from Urdang, congratulating me on my place there and inviting me to a funding audition. I thought – great let’s smash this and the day was actually really fun and less daunting than I preempted! Due to the fact of coming from a low-income family after my dad passed away I really was counting on the extra support they could offer. So I really did go for it on that particular day. After declining my places everywhere else I was awaiting my funding results from the academy. Now, I definitely do believe everything happens for a reason and  I am by no means bitter about the experience or what happened, I opened an email one day and found out I was unsuccessful in gaining further funding but I still had my place there! Yes it was heartbreaking and yes I was left feeling a bit blue but like I said everything in life happens for a reason and maybe it just wasn’t my year there. I did however love the school and it reminded me a lot like Fame when I first walked in through the doors, late might I add because of a delayed train. So after declining my options for all my offers I was left debating what to do. I applied for a one year intensive course in musical theatre so atleast I could tell myself I was still training in preparation for auditions the following year, whilst the training there was exceptional in the end I decided to decline one evening because my heart wasn’t in it. Luckily, and this why I do believe in fate, the next morning I received an email from Trinity Laban explaining I had now gained a place on the BA course for musical theatre performance. I screamed the house down that day, everything seemed to be just fitting into place like a little jigsaw puzzle that I called my life. I was beyond happy and now here I am in London ready for term 2 and what it brings.

So I guess you could say it’s been a bit of a bumpy road but I got there eventually. And I have my family most importantly to thank for all of that. Without them none of this would be possible.