The sections he covers are: Monologue Choice, Style of Performance, The Heartbeat, Speeching and Headline.
Adding to these sections, here are a few Discover Fine Acting extras, including the most important point of all…
This should be obvious, but it is worth a mention nonetheless: be sure to check the criteria set for the audition!
Some schools have a particular list of audition pieces from which to choose. Some schools state which pieces they will not accept. Just to be really helpful, you can find these two opposites mentioning the same pieces, so make sure you are really clued up on what is wanted by the schools for which you are applying.
If you are set on a choice for one which is not accepted at another, you will have to work on more monologues than usual – be realistic about the time and work you have to put in to cover however many monologues you will need! (And remember to choose a Shakespeare piece and a contemporary piece that are contrasting.)
Style of Performance
Heightened performance which uses Shakespeare’s verse pays attention to the words at the end of a line – the break is there for a reason.
There are many ways in which trying to heighten delivery / use verse can ‘falsify’ your performance, so if you cannot get help from someone who understands these aspects, just bear in mind that the last ‘strong’ word of a line (usually the very last word) is important. A ‘strong’ word falls on the ‘dum’ beat of the ‘duh dum’ line – see Heartbeat below.
Do not try to force something onto that word, just know – as you work with your text – that it is worthy of attention.
If you can connect with someone able to help, then you can explore such aspects in depth without making technique the be-all and end-all.
Should you wish to work with me – Danielle Farrow of Discover Fine Acting – you can get in touch via www.discoverfineacting.com. Also, of course, you can ask questions in the Comments section below.
First, a reiteration of Mark’s point: unless you have checked with the school on this matter, make sure you are using a verse piece. This is part of what Shakespeare in auditions is all about.
The ‘music’ of Shakespeare is based on that ‘duh dum, duh dum, duh dum, duh dum, duh dum’ rhythm (known as iambic pentameter). Shakespeare often then ‘riffs’ on it, playing around a bit. Here lies his incredibly helpful direction for acting. If you are not familiar with using this rhythm, take steps to change that.
You can find help on the basics here, and – again – it can be worth finding someone in the know to work with.
Such technical aspects are part of your preparation and should not be what you are thinking about in performance. They are building blocks for your work, not the results of it!
Another very important point! You are speaking aloud, so make sense of that and speak to a particular person. This person can be fictional or someone from your own life – whatever best works for you.
General note: do not fix directly on someone auditioning you unless you have expressly gained permission to do so – above head(s) usually works best, with you being specific in your imagination about the person / people you are speaking to.
A useful tip there, regarding the first line, and here is another:-
Read out the last strong word of each verse line and you will find the story / journey of the speech. Say each of these line-ending words in order, with thought and feeling for what these words mean in context.
Which leads to…
The most important point of all…
You must make these words your own – it is you the auditioners want to see.
* Mark Westbrook is a Professional Acting Coach and runs Acting Coach Scotland, a private acting studio offering acting classes in Glasgow, masterclasses, workshops and audition coaching for actors at all levels. His acting studio is based in Glasgow, Scotland, although he teaches all across the United Kingdom.