If you are auditioning for our School of Acting (BA Hons Acting, Foundation Acting, MA Acting) you’ll need to prepare and send a self-taped audition as part of your application.
Self-tapes are part of everyday life for a professional actor; they’ve been used in the TV and film industry for many years and are increasingly used for theatre auditions as well. But if you’re just starting out on your actor training journey, we understand that self-tapes can be a bit of a mystery, even quite daunting.
Don’t worry! We’ve got you.
ArtsEd’s Interim Principal and Director of the School of Acting, Dr Julie Spencer, has provided some top tips for auditionees applying to our School of Acting. Keep reading for her guide to a successful self-tape.
For details on what you need to present in your tapes, please visit our auditions page and select the course you are applying for.
Julie’s steps to self-tape success
You must record a brief ident to introduce yourself by stating your:
- Where you’re from
- The pieces you are presenting (name of character and play)
Your ident should be delivered straight to the camera, and my top tip is: don’t overthink this bit! Treat your ident as the equivalent of walking into a room and introducing yourself to the panel – show us a bit of your personality. Be enthusiastic about the characters you’ve chosen. If you’re engaging in your ident, we’ll be more engaged when watching you!
Let’s cover the technical aspects of filming your pieces:
For the classical piece, you should film yourself in a ‘wide’ shot (meaning we want to see you full-length or as much of your body as the space will allow). Your classical piece should be treated like a soliloquy, and be delivered straight to camera.
Your contemporary piece should be filmed as a close up of your face – but not too close! Head and shoulders are fine. The contemporary piece can be delivered in the same way as your classical, or it can be aimed just above the camera if that makes sense for the piece.
My main piece of advice regarding the positioning of the camera and body/face is that we don’t want to see the side of your face!
How to perform your monologues:
My first top tip is this: do not attempt to do ‘acting for camera’. We want to see a theatrical performance.
If you are recalled to the second round, which will be in-person, part of that audition will be a screen test. At the first self-tape stage we want to see how you would perform as if you were in the room with us.
Use your natural voice – don’t affect an accent or do a ‘voice’ to fit the character. We want to hear YOU.
Wear comfortable clothing. Don’t attempt to dress as the character or wear a costume.
No make-up, and hair should be tied back so that we can see your face.
Don’t use props.
Don’t use background music.
Please don’t overthink it or attempt to film multiple takes in order to choose the ‘best’ one. You should film each monologue no more than 3 times and choose the best one from the 3 to send to us.
Don’t copy a famous version of your chosen monologue from YouTube!
What are we looking for in our Acting auditionees?
This is one of the most common questions we are asked regarding applications and auditions, and the answer is actually very simple.
We want to see YOU and who you are!
We want to see your enthusiasm (for the piece and for the process).
We’re looking for your commitment to the choices you make. We may not agree with your choices, but that’s fine as long as you commit to them.
We’re interested in the decisions that you make as an actor and how you have interpreted the pieces. Make them your own.
There is only one of YOU – we are looking for the unique qualities that make you who you are, so show us. We want to see your individual creativity.
Here’s my final top tip, and it’s a very important one:
We are not looking for perfection or for the finished product, meaning we do not expect you to be a polished, trained actor – that’s what drama school is for! We are looking for potential.
Be brave, be bold and enjoy yourself. I look forward to seeing your tapes.