From The Bottom To The Top- The Story So Far, Part 2

(This blog post began life as part of the Tower Theatre Company newsletter and was first published in late February 2015)

Last weekend for the Tower “Dream Team” was an exhaustive, exhausting but exhilarating one as the big audition moment arrived. We were to spend two days in the Barbican centre showing the Royal Shakespeare Company what we had prepared and engaging in a series of workshops on voice/text, acting and movement.

Our second and final rehearsal had gone well two nights before and our final, final rehearsal over breakfast at the Tower Rehearsal Room took place at 8.30 on Saturday morning (such dedication!) After calming the last minute nerves we set off en bloc for the Barbican.

The Tower Dreamteam arriving for their first audition ... little did they know
The Tower Dreamteam arriving for their first audition … little did they know

Thirteen groups were participating (drawn from nine separate companies) and a number of familiar faces were in evidence – the friendly rivalry and badinage was soon flowing with one person pointing out that if a bomb went off that would leave rather a large hole in the capital’s amateur dramatic talent.  Each group was put into a designated tranche to work through the three workshops (these will be the subject of a separate, later blog) and the audition itself. My initial instinct was to be horrified when I learned we were first up for the latter but as the others pointed out that meant it would be over and done with quickly and we could then “relax”. As it turned out we were third in the first tranche to audition (hope you’re following this) so that wasn’t quite so worrying.

The day got properly underway with introductory remarks from the RSC team including the overall project director, Erica Whyman and the members of her team. For some reason they kept telling us to relax…. As if!

Being third in tranche 1 we had some time to kill so we were able to put in a bit more practice of the prepared scene (Act 1, Scene 2 if you’re interested) and also to run through the individual modern monologues we had been asked to prepare. I’d chosen a piece from one of my favourite plays Alan Bennett’s The History Boys. Could we have been more ready? Doubtful!

We faced a small panel in the audition room and after setting up quickly we went for it. The scene as played is about six minutes long but it seemed to go by in half that time. Everyone was word perfect and the comic business that we had put in raised some hearty laughs from the observers who were most complimentary in their comments. After some notes (could Bottom be even more hammy?  could Flute be even feebler? etc.) we ran the scene again. Once again no pauses, fluffs or trip ups – the scene seemed to have even more energy than before. After this we were then asked to play the Prologue to the play within a play in Act 5. The burden of the speaking fell squarely on Quince’s/Maria’s shoulders but she handled it with aplomb while the rest of us acted out what was being described.  Then it was time for the individual monologues. Those with less dialogue in the preprepared scene were called upon. Both Al (doing some John Arden) and Peta (giving us his own adaptation of a piece by Russell Hoban) did us proud. I have to say if we had been given the choice of which two monologues to put forward to show our credentials then those are the two I would have gone for. Great stuff.

We don’t know if we’re through to the next stage yet but I can honestly say that if we’re not it won’t be for want of trying. I was very proud of what had been achieved in a short space of time and grateful to all my fellow thesps for helping to make a theatrical “Dream” come true.

From The Bottom To The Top- The Story So Far, Part 2

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