Sunday, 9 October 2016

Well it's that time of year again when another wave of people begin the ruthless and unforgiving process of auditioning for drama schools. I wish you all the best of luck in the world and wish I could do so along with you. However, remember preparation is key. A few years ago I wrote a post on Audition Tips which focused more on the audition itself and speech preparation. Hopefully this post will shed some light on the audition process itself.

Here are a few things you need to consider at the beginning of this crazy journey:

Which schools are you going to apply for? 
I remember not really putting much consideration into where I applied. My only condition was that it was in London, as I didn't want to move and love the city too much, however made exceptions after persuasion from my peers. I chose RADA, LAMDA, CSSD, Guildhall, Mountview, GSA and Rose Bruford (the latter I was pretty much bullied into applying for) bringing my audition fees up to just short of £400.
I would consider what type of path you want to follow in this industry. If you're interested in Dance and Musical Theatre, I would consider applying for Urdang, Arts Ed or Italia Conti. Do your research on each school, it's such a lot of money and there's no guarantee you'll even get a recall.

Choose a speech early
When the applications open in September/October, you could get a date within weeks, so make sure you are prepared in advance. The general requirements are two speeches - one classical, one contemporary and one backup. You need to be sure that you're choosing a speech that best suits you, and not something just because it is dramatic. I'm sure the panel would rather hear that you stumbled across your monologue while reading your way through many playwrights instead of typing 'sad monologues for women' in the google search bar.
Having said that, there's nothing wrong with searching the internet for something, just make sure you don't just jump to the first one you see. These people see hundreds and thousands of people and I can guarantee, they've seen it before. Many times before.

Finance
It's never too soon to start organising how you will be paying for the tuition fees. Most of the schools I applied for were the basic £9000 a year, but then Mountview for example is currently charging £12,500 for UK and EU students (for the BA Acting course), which then rises to a staggering £16,000 for international students.
As soon as you decide to apply, go straight to the student finance website and apply. It takes forever to process, so you might as well get it over and done with so it's another worry off your mind. If you're an international student, it's obviously a lot more difficult to find funding for not only the fees, but the accommodation as well. Plan ahead.

Experience
I've constantly throughout this blog emphasised the fact that you do not need industry experience to get into a drama school. I was 17 years old, still in college, no professional productions or experience under my belt - and somehow made it to the RADA finals. So regardless of what people say, always know that it doesn't matter. If you have enough talent and drive, it'll be enough.
I will however mention the 'experience' does not mean only acting. I am a completely different person to the 17 year old that embarked on this journey. And I understand now more than ever, why everyone else in the room was in their twenties. In order to fully portray a character, you need the life experience to draw on. In my RADA feedback, which you can read here, Edward Kemp the director wrote "If I'm to absolutely frank, I think your age was against you this year.  A lot of the panel couldn't believe you were as young as you are, which on the one hand is a mark of maturity in your work, but I think also a sign that you will probably grow into your talent over the next few years."
Now that's not to discourage anyone young from applying - absolutely not. Some people get in! Yet most people don't, and you need to go through this process to make sure it is completely and entirely what you want.

Prepare yourself for failure
You will fail. You will be rejected. You will feel defeated. But rejection makes room for growth and prepares you for the real world outside of drama school. There is no guaranteed job at the end of the tunnel. I remember reading somewhere along the lines that only 8% of drama school students actually manage to pursue a path in acting. Just remember that every knock down builds your character and everything happens for a reason, though sometimes unclear.

I'm here for any additional questions you have. My email is probably the easiest way to get hold of me: hshanley@hotmail.co.uk

Good luck to each and every one of you thespians. X

Friday, 23 September 2016

It's a miracle that I'm writing this and honestly I can't quite believe it myself. When I leave my mind to confront what I've been closing off all this time, the sad truth is - I haven't been remotely interested in practising in over 4 years now. It saddens me to the core and yet it's not enough to get me back on my feet. Let me tell you what happened to me today:

Nearly 5 o'clock in the evening and I've not yet moved. I've not got dressed, I've barely eaten and I've not left my room. I'm scrolling mindlessly through Facebook and accidentally stumble across message requests from people I have never met. So many thank you's, so many questions, so much appreciation for this silly little blog. It made me remember how much I used to love writing these posts, love helping everyone and how much I wish I still could with so much enthusiasm.

Loosing your passion for something changes your relationship with it. There was a time when this world completely consumed me and now when people ask what I'd like to do with my life, my answer is always "I don't know".

So unfortunately, this post doesn't signify my return to this crazy world. But it means I'm going to try. Try to be interested, try to be active, try to help people. And hopefully who knows, I might end up auditioning again one day. Thank you to everyone that continues to encourage me, to everyone that sends me messages of your own stories and to everyone that looks to me for inspiration. It's you that inspires me.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015





Massive apologies for the delay between this video and the last one. This video is the first of a series about audition preparations. I'll cover a range of things in the weeks to come including researching schools, line learning, blocking your speech and audition do's and don'ts. Enjoy!

Sunday, 8 February 2015


I went to the London Palladium last week with my Mum and saw Andrew Lloyd Webber's revival of Cats! I was so super excited for this, not only because I am obsessed, but because I've not been to the west end for a long while now. Mentally slapping the back of my hand.

Let's start off by saying I was amazed at how much this revival was like the original. Unfortunately I never saw the first stage production, but I most definitely did worship the video tape I had of the performance. Ah those were the days - went you had to rewind the entire tape to watch it from the beginning. I loved everything from the costumes to the characters, my favourites being Rum Tum Tugger, Mr Mistoffelees and Grizabella.

Ah yes, Grizabella, who is of course currently being performed by Nicole Scherzinger. Before reading the programme and seeing her experience, I had no idea that she had performed prior to this production. She was actually trained in Musical Theatre, back in Ohio, and has been in a number of performances. It comes as no surprise when I say that she was absolutely incredible. She has one of those voices that pulls you in, and just at the peak of the song, her voice fills every part of the theatre, leaving goosebumps in it's place. She sung Memory with such pain, a pain that isn't successfully conveyed through video, that my heart broke for her and admittedly, I did shed a tear.

For anyone who hasn't seen Cats, there's very little storyline and no real 'main' characters, making it an ensemble production. The gist is - all the cats come together once a year for the Jellicle Ball, which ends in one chosen cat being reborn into a new life. Throughout the play we meet many different cats, each explaining their story and their lives before Old Deuteronomy makes his decision at the end.
The ensemble were fabulous. They did exactly what an ensemble should do, move as one. What I mean by that, isn't that they were always in sync, but that they were focused and completely aware of each other, nobody outshining another and no one being the weakest link. Of course, you would expect no less in a production directed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
All I can say is bravo to the costume and make up team. Every single cat on that stage looked bloody fantastic, and I recognised every one of them from the original. I cannot express how happy I was when I realised that it was all exactly the same. But better.

I do have one bone to pick unfortunately. Rum Tum Tugger, the provocative, sexy and charming cat that gets all the female felines swooning, was transformed into the common chav. With bling hanging from his neck, a snapback twisted backwards, and trainers on his feet - he was a far cry from the handsome rebel of the original portrayal. As if that wasn't enough, his song was rapped. Rapped.The character was transformed from the suave gentleman that has had his fair share of ladies, to a young boy who, had he been human, would have undoubtedly had acne. Call me traditional, but I hate it when ideas of appealing to a 'younger audience' automatically end with that image.

Aside from that, an overall great production. What would have been 5 stars, I've had to bring down to 4. Damn you, Rum Tum Tugger. Although Nicole Scherzinger is soon to leave the role, they will be replacing her with Kerry Ellis and have released more dates. I would definitely suggest going to see it! I have no idea how long they plan to keep it in the west end, so see it while it's there!

I also posted a much much shorter review on my Youtube channel:

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Ladies and gentleman, here are a few quick tips on masking your nerves. These are a few things that have worked for me but won't necessarily work for everyone. I hope you enjoy, and let me know if you have a topic you'd like me to cover.

Thursday, 29 January 2015


This offer ends 2/2/15 at 5:00pm!

Calling all thespians! For those of you that are not signed up for IdeasTap, I suggest you do so! The site, designed to give younger people more opportunities such as jobs and workshops, are offering only to it's members, a chance to win a Bursary with Rose Bruford College.

I auditioned for Rose Bruford in Sidcup, Kent, back in 2013 and was recalled but failed to get a place. I remember not being too enthusiastic about the college but I must say, the campus was lovely. They had loads of large outdoor space which I imagine is lovely to rehearse on during the summer months. Their notable alumni includes Tom Baker, Stephen Graham and Lake Bell.

Definitely worth giving this a shot! And if you're new to IdeasTap, I really recommend exploring the website for all the goodies. For the workshops, it's sometimes hard to get your name down before there's a waiting list, but some of the stuff they offer is amazing. AND FREE. Imagine going to your audition and saying that you've participated in workshops on Autobiographical Theatre, Lecoq Methods, Improvisation Skills and even Acting Through Song.

Here's the link for the rose Bruford Bursary:
http://www.ideastap.com/Opportunities/Brief/a7c8c243-9c60-4272-a0a7-a41900acf5b5#Overview

Remember to be quick, it closes in four days!

Saturday, 24 January 2015

I'm going to start off with a massive apology, my last blog post was in October. I'll try my hardest now we're in the new year to make a conscious effort to update more, sorry! We've got a lot to catch up on...
As I said in my previous post, I had two upcoming projects one paid and one amateur. Unfortunately, as I have found out throughout the past two years, nothing ever works out the way you want it to. In this case however, I'm talking about the play Chapel Street. To refresh your memories, the director of my amateur class cast me as Kirsty in Luke Barnes' Chapel Street. Though we had together auditioned several men for the male part, the director chose to audition me again. I didn't get the part down to the fact that I had no experience, which you can't argue with. However, I went on to perform as Macbeth with my amateur group and it went brilliantly. I really did enjoy it, and have signed on for the next season, which has already begun. The theme is The Grimm Brothers and I am so excited.

Oh, and I have a surprise for you..