Saturday, 19 October 2013

LIPA

My first ever drama school audition was at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts. I had rescheduled my audition from the previous week, as I was singing in our local music festival so I was now attending their last preliminary audition of the year. I travelled down to Liverpool the day before so had arrived at LIPA bright and early at about 8.40 am (20 minutes before). On the agenda it was scheduled that registration would take place between 9 and 9.30am. When I got there I could not believe the queue, there was at least 100 people queueing already and I was early! I stood in line and waited patiently until I got to the front where I was given a name badge and a time sheet. The morning auditionee's had been separated into 3 groups that rotated between a workshop, panel audition and tour of the building. I had my workshop first, followed by my audition and then my tour. A perfect running order! Registration took place in the canteen and all of the bustling tables were full, which meant when I got my time sheet I had to stand by myself. The room was very busy and looking around one of the things that struck me was the age of the other auditioners. I had had it drummed into me that I would be one of the youngest there and everyone would be 45 (slight exxageration), however, although I was definitely still one of the youngest, most of the auditionees couldn't have been much older than 20. I believe that LIPA seems to be the youngest of the schools in terms of applicants, certainly of the auditions at the schools that I attended anyway. This made me feel slightly more at ease and eventually after about 10 minutes of awkward eye contact with another girl who was standing nearby - she made the first move. Brief chit-chat and I got to know a bit more about her, she was lovely but I couldn't help wincing as she told me she was singing 'On My Own' as her audition piece. DO NOT SING LES MIS EVER- EVEN FOR STRAIGHT ACTING COURSES.

 At 9.30 we were escorted up the stairs to a big hall where we were told to sit down on the floor. Along the wall was a row of chairs with several people that we were later introduced to as tutors, members of staff and current third years. The head of acting gave us a little speech about how they receive thousands of applicants, of which very few get recalled and fewer get offers. We were told to remember that just because we didn't get into LIPA doesn't mean we aren't talented and wouldn't get into another drama school. Many of their current students had more than one attempt at getting in and we shouldn't let this deter us. He then chatted for a little while about the course itself and changes in course content- which I believe is the reduction of dance and more acting for camera instead. He introduced us to the 'stool of destiny'- which was essentially a very tall chair. He explained that at LIPA they seemed to have a problem with people dancing around during their musical theatre songs and to combat this had introduced the stool. He was a very enthusiastic american gentleman and gave us a little demonstration with some jazz hands- I liked him he gave a great vibe. We were then introduced to the director of the foundation course and strongly advised that if we hadn't done so already (which I had), to tick the box indicating we would also like to be considered for the foundation. They explained that we should not let money be a barrier as LIPA had two foundation scholarships and often when decling someone  that they felt was maybe not ready for the BA they were desperate to give them a foundation recall yet couldn't as the box had not been ticked. I cannot stress how much I recommend ticking the box, especially if you are young. Everyone I have ever spoken to that has done a foundation course, at a range of different schools - said they felt it was the best year of the training. If you can't pay then you can't pay, or if you are certain that you don't want a foundation course place, fair enough but at least by ticking the box you have given yourself the option and created more opportunity for yourself. After the speeches we had opportunity to ask questions and were then given the structure of the day.

 As I had my workshop first I was staying where I was in the big hall. Around 60-70 of us remained in the hall, and two of the third years led our workshop. The workshop was not assessed their were no panel members watching and it was essentially just warming up, playing drama games and getting a bit more friendly with the author auditionee's. As I had this first I found it benefical and it loosened me up a bit, ready for the panel. However, if I had been in the group with their auditions first I would have found the workshop a slightly pointless as it wasn't the type of workshop where you actually learn anything.To begin, we made a large circle around the room and played the dreaded 'tell us your name, where you are from and an interesting fact about yourself' bonding game. Of course, I hate this game seeing as 1) no one has ever heard of where I am from 2) my interesting facts always seem to make me seem weird or boring 3) people spend my turn trying to work out whether I am Irish or American and I am neither. I have however been mistaken for both during my auditions.
 '' Hi, I'm Chloe- I'm from ******* " (I like to protect my privacy but I will give you my name lol ). ''Sorry, where?''  '' It's a small town in Scotland'', ''Ohh'',  Then I just blurt out in panic. '' Yes my interesting fact is that I have phobia of cling-film'', ''Wait -what? like actual cling-film?'' , ''Oh well it's actually only when it touches my food, you know at buffets and on sandwiches and things. It's like a sixth sense. I can tell when it has been near my food without seeing it. I can smell it.. and taste it.. ''  , ''Oh I see - very interesting. Ok,next''. * EVIL GLARES FROM ENTIRE CIRCLE* Awkward times indeed my friends, awkward times indeed. Anyway, I was soon forgotten and we continued with our games. We play everything from Woosh to an adaption of Granny's footsteps with keys. The session ended in a Q &A with the students, both of whom were lovely. The female had done the foundation course and the male had taken a gap year - both had very interesting stories to tell.

My group's panel auditions were scheduled inbetween 11-12, I think my personal audition was supposed to be around 11.25 or something but I honestly can't remember. There were either 6 or 8 audition panels so the group was split about 10-15 for each panel. The room I was in was right next to the hall so I didn't have far to travel, I did however have a very long time to wait. The panel were running late and I didn't get seen until nearly an hour after my scheduled time which resulted in me missing my tour of the school - slightly annoying. Anyways - the room wasn't very sound proof and I could hear the other auditionee's singing and doing the shouty bits of their speeches through the wall. A girl a few people before me also had to come back out to put away her mobile phone, it had went off in her pocket. Needless to say I did not see her at recalls. I really cannot stress enough the importance of common sense. Anyway, the boy before me sang Jesus Christ Superstar and was OUTSTANDING. Safe to say I was full of nerves. In general people were only in around 5 minutes, and the feedback I got from the other auditionee's was the questions were pretty simple ''Tell us what you are doing at the moment?'' or ''why did you pick this piece?'' sort of thing.

''Is there a Chloe here?''.  I was met by a very friendly third year student at the door who then took me into the room and introduced me to the panel. My panel consisted of the foundation course leader and an external musical director - who was also my pianist. The third year student was on the panel as well. ''Ok Chloe, do you have your review?''  I handed over my review of 'A Respectable Widow Takes To Vulgarity' by Douglas Maxwell, which was embarassingly handwritten. ''Thanks. So what order are you going to do your piece's in for us today?'' UH OH. I hadn't thought about this. I quickly decided on Shakespeare, song and finishing with contemporary. I was performing Isabella, from Measure for Measure. To be honest, the actual performance is a bit of a blur- I felt it went very quick. Hopefully this is not a result of me rushing it. I didn't feel anything particularly negative about it though- it was a average performance. It was now time for the dreaded 'stool of destiny', I have to say it was a strange experience. I had decided to sing 'Green Finch and Linnet Bird' from Sweeny Todd. I have already mentioned my struggle of singing in auditions and nerves- but this was really something else. The top note in this song was a G (which is basically my top note) but I didn't hit anything above an E. It was shocking. I was cringing inside. I was shaking and panicking so much that I didn't even act. When I say shaking- I do not physically shake... just my voice. Anyway- about 2/3 through I got ''thanks Chloe, thats enough''. We had been pre-warned this would happen but I couldn't help feel a bit disappointed. Anyway- I moved on to my contemporary piece determined to save myself. It was a fairly good performance despite the confusion. I should stress that I have a very mild accent , not like the scottish people on tv at all. ''What is your contemporary piece Chloe?'' 
''Ellen, from Outlying Islands'', ''What islands?'' , ''Outlying Islands'', '' sorry what-lying?'' , ''Out'', ''Could you repeat that please?'', ''OUT. OUT-LYING ISLANDS!!'' , ''ohh, out-lying''.
There had been absolutely no accent problems at all. None what-so-ever until then.

Anyway, that was it. I wasn't asked a single question and I was certain that meant that they weren't interested in me. I thanked the panel and left, awkwardly stumbling into the door frame as I went and being called back for my sheet music.

You can imagine my confusion when the next afternoon I recieved an email inviting me to a recall the next Sunday...

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