Q&A: "The course itself has massively shaped me in terms of confidence"

Posted on 21st Jul 2017 in Q&A, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Learning in the UK

Esther from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama answers your FAQs about the Gap Year Diploma

1. What first sparked your interest in drama/performing?

I've always had a huge love for storytelling and for people. I felt, from a young age, that acting and performing was an incredible way of telling peoples stories and of learning to understand others. Throughout school I kept myself busy in the drama department, trying to be a part of as many plays or media videos as possible! It was through the encouragement of my secondary school drama teacher that I really decided to take a career in acting seriously. With the support of my parents and with a lot of hard work, I decided to audition for drama schools!

2. What made you feel the need to take a gap year?

I'd auditioned for drama schools the previous year and didn’t get in, I began to realise just how competitive the industry really is and how hard you have to work. I really felt like I wanted to take this next step of auditioning seriously, really throw myself into auditions. I'd found it hard to balance the intensity of A levels and a Job with applying. So I decided to take the year out, to take my craft seriously, to fill my time with things that would hone my ability as an actor and to put my all into the auditions.

3. Where did you find out about the gap year diploma and what made you feel it was the right choice for you?

I saw the gap year diploma advertised online and immediately thought it would be a great option. I'd noticed that in the interview stage of Drama school applications, they often wanted to know that you'd been consistently taking part in theatre. With the regularity of the course and the way it spanned over a whole year, I really felt like this would be a good tool to have in my belt. For me, the opportunity of studying at Central was also hugely appealing. Being a school which has shaped the industry and trained some of the best actors of our time, I felt like this would be incredibly beneficial. I also was really eager to work as part of a company; quite often the audition process can make you feel like acting is about the individual, rather than a company. I was really keen to get stuck in to a group of likeminded people who would put their time and energy into storytelling. I also just massively wanted to learn, to learn about Shakespeare, to learn about movement, to learn about a rehearsal room and how to really work collaboratively. I was thirsty for a drama school experience and this course seemed like a great stepping stone.

4. What skills have you learnt while on the diploma?

A lot of people describe a training in acting to be like a tool box. The training is supposed to provide you with the tools you need to take on industry work. I felt like the Gap Year Diploma was perfect preparation for this. With the first term being solely focused on monologues and acting fundamentals, I found that I was hugely prepared to pick up a monologue for an audition; to pick it apart and make it make sense. It was also hugely beneficial to get feedback on your work from industry professionals (a lot of our first term teachers were on panels for Drama School Auditions, making their advice to us incredibly valuable).

Probably one of the biggest lessons I learnt was learning to listen properly, to let the words you're saying affect you and affect the other actor. All in all, the intensity of the course and the amount of work expected gave me a great insight into industry life, into how hardworking an actor needs to be. It started my toolbox.

5. How has the diploma helped you in making your next move (getting on to the CDT course)?

The course itself has massively shaped me in terms of confidence. The encouragement and feedback given by teachers has helped me to address areas that I had been struggling with and to grow in confidence and ability in my acting.

As well as this purely being in the building at Central was massively helpful when coming up to audition for the BA. After having spent a year of Saturday's at the school I really felt at home in the place; this meant that I was much less nervous in my audition which really helped.

I also, after having spent a year under Central's teaching, really felt like I’d been given an insight into life at Central, making my choice to attend next year as an undergraduate quite easy. There were a few occasions where students from the courses would come and talk to us about what to expect at Central, this was hugely helpful in me making my decision this year.

6. What advice would you have for aspiring performers who are looking at potentially taking a gap year?

Take it seriously. If you really want to apply to drama school or pursue a career in this industry then give up your time to it. Really look for opportunities that will grow you as an actor and as a member of a company. If there is a specific school that you like the look of then look at their short courses, go see their showcases and read their books. Really pursue learning because there is so much of it and a gap year gives you a good amount of time to look at it all. At the beginning of the course I received a postcard from a friend with a Thomas Beckett quote on it that read, ‘Ever tried. Ever Failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better’. That’s probably my advice. Just keep going! This course is a really great place to try things out, to figure out what works and what doesn’t. To grow in confidence and skill and really spend your gap year well.

To find out more about the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, click here