WhatsOnStage Logo

NYT alumni offer their audition advice - 'just hit the ball!'

As auditions open for their next intake, the National Youth Theatre asks some of their former students for their tips on getting through an audition

WhatsOnStage logo

As National Youth Theatre launch their 2015 national search for Britain's best young theatrical talent, former members who have gone on to star on stage and screen offer up their audition advice.

Julie Hesmondhalgh star of the Royal Court's God Bless the Child and known for playing Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street on the art of auditioning:

"Auditioning is an art in itself and very hard to get right. Be confident, not cocky. Do your homework! Know who you're meeting, know their body of work. Read the whole script, never just your own scenes. Be ready to shake hands with your auditioners when you enter the room. Don't faff. But more than anything, be engaged with the world. Have proper answers to the question "What have you been up to?"

Five-time Olivier Award-nominated actor and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory star Douglas Hodge on hitting the ball:

"Don't start until you're ready and then remember - you can't think and hit the ball. So just hit the ball!"

Two-time Olivier-award nominated actress Rachael Stirling advises against unnecessary tears:

"Don't ever cry in an audition unnecessarily. I once went in for a role in Sherlock to play a lady baddie temptress and, when they asked me what I'd been up to (I was working at a pub at the time having just broken up from a boyfriend) I burst into tears and blubbed and snotted all over the producers, director, and - much to her horror - the casting director. It was neither badass nor tempting and I squirm at the thought of it now. (Unless the part requires you to blub, in which case I recommend breaking up with a boyfriend and washing vomit off floors for a week as an excellent warm up in self-pity.)"

Headlong Artistic Director Jeremy Herrin whose production of The Nether opens in the West End in January on dealing with nerves:

"Know your piece extremely well, but don't be so inflexible that you can't live in the moment: you need to communicate the piece and your talent to the panel there and then. Keep breathing and stay hydrated so as to manage your nerves. Don't be frightened - the panel are pleased you're there and they want you to be at your best. And the best acting advice ever: relax and concentrate."

Rudi Dharmalingam who is currently rehearsing Dara at the National Theatre on picking a speech:

"Choose pieces that are within your casting bracket. Then present your interpretation of those characters with clear choices and intentions confidently and precisely. Oh, and don't demonstrate."

Lucy Briers who stars in the RSC's award-winning stage version of Wolf Hall, which is transferring to Broadway in the spring, on being yourself:

"Don't try to second guess what the person auditioning you is looking for. Most of the time they don't know until they see it. Be true to who you are. Being unique in this industry is a rare commodity, especially as there is such pressure on young people to be like everyone else."

Richard Hope who is playing Hector in the 2015 History Boys tour on originality:

"Focus up. Remember to breathe. You have about three minutes to pitch your talent. I like to see pieces that sell someone's true personality. Find contrasting pieces. And, don't take my advice. Be original."

National Youth Theatre auditions are open to onstage and backstage theatrical talent aged 14-25 and applications can be made at www.nyt.org.uk/events until the deadline on 31 January 2015.