A Spotlight On… Declan Mason- Drama School Success!

In this blog post, we chat to Advanced Academy student Declan Mason following his success at gaining a place on the Acting course at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama: responsible for training household names including Orlando Bloom, Daniel Craig and Ewan McGregor! Dec, who has been a student at The Theatre Workshop for the past 11 years(!) fills us in on the art of auditioning for places at full time drama colleges…

Hi Dec! Congratulations on getting into Guildhall. What was your reaction when you found out the news?

Thank you so much. I was really hoping to get a place, but as it was my first year applying, I thought it would be very unlikely. When I got the call I was totally shocked- the Head of Drama called me on the bank holiday weekend so it took me by surprise, but once it had sunk in I was buzzing! It took about a week to properly sink in, but now I can’t wait to get there! I know its going to be really hard work but I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to study there.

What was the audition process like? 

At the first audition, I was in and out quite quickly after being asked to do my three prepared monologues.

I was then re-called for a morning session the following week. It was similar to the first round, but with a new panel and I was also asked to sing a song. After that, there was a workshop for an hour and then we were told to wait for a while until they came back to tell us who had got through to the next stage. There were thirteen in my group that morning and I was the only one that got put through which I was so surprised about as everyone seemed really good. After getting through that round I just focussed on preparing for the next stage. The last stage was a two day recall. This was really intensive and very full on.I had to do my pieces to three different panels and also voice and movement and improvisation workshops. It was a long two days, but really gave me a feel for Guildhall and although I felt the two days went really well, I knew they were seeing about 80 at this round for 14 places on the BA course so I knew I only had a very slim chance of getting in.  

How many schools did you audition for this year?

I auditioned for LAMDA, RADA, Guildhall, Bristol Old Vic and Rose Bruford. I had recalls for three. This helped me to be quite relaxed for Guildhall as it was my last school, so by the time I got to the first round for Guildhall, I was used to being in the audition environment and was able to relax and be myself. Every audition is different so I just tried to make the most of every one and I have to be honest, I really enjoyed them all!

Did the auditions vary a lot from school to school?

Well, the format is quite similar at the various schools for the first round.The first round can seem a bit impersonal as you are in and out within twenty minutes or so.  Some panels like you to look at them whilst you say your pieces, some give you someone to focus on and one stopped me half way through my piece and asked me to run round the room for a couple of minutes and then carry on where I had left off!! Once I got to the re-call stages, I got a better idea of the school and I got to see how different the schools are, they all have a slightly different vibe.

When did you decide you wanted to become an actor?

I can’t remember not wanting to be one so I guess I was quite young!!

How do you think The Theatre Workshop and Advanced Academy has helped you?

I started at The Theatre Workshop in Bexhill when I was six years old on a Saturday morning and I have been there ever since, so it has been a massive part of my life from a really young age! TTW has given me so many opportunities that I actually could not list them all, from introducing me to my agent who I have been with from age 8 and to giving me opportunities to work in theatre both locally and on national tours, creating and performing self devised pieces, being involved in TV documentaries, filming for various projects, and introducing me to some of the best teachers I could have ever wished for as well as contacts with amazing Directors which led to me being part of Hungry Wolf….the list goes on!
When I was old enough to audition, I got a place at the Advanced Academy and this really has been an amazing couple of years. I really do feel that the teaching there has been fantastic and we also benefit from having guest teachers who are all working professional actors so our sessions always feel very current and fresh. There is a lot of work on preparing for Drama School and I honestly didn’t fully appreciate how prepared I was until I was sitting waiting to go in for my Drama School auditions and everyone around me looked so nervous!

How did you decide on your pieces for your auditions?

I found it quite hard to decide which pieces to choose for auditions.Some schools have set pieces they want you to learn, but most give you a lot of scope and hopefully you can find pieces that you feel you connect with and that you feel comfortable with. I have been lucky enough to be taught private drama lessons by TTW’s Becci and Craig since I was 7 so they know me pretty well by now! We worked together on different ideas until we came up with pieces that I felt got across what I could do but without losing my personality. I trusted them implicitly and I couldn’t have done it with out their additional support!

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about applying to drama school?

I would definitely say preparation is the key and to be really comfortable with your pieces. In the auditions they will give direction, stop you mid speech or ask you to do it in a totally different way so you need to know the pieces really well. If you know them inside out you are not having to concentrate on remembering the words and you can just relax and enjoy the audition. I would also say try to be really open minded and just throw yourself into to everything they ask you to do with out any inhibitions if you can.  On all my auditions I felt they wanted us to be relaxed and they wanted us to be good and they are not trying to intimidate you at all by asking you to do all these things- I think they just want to see that you are happy to take risks and that you are comfortable being you!

Thanks Dec! We are SO proud of all you have achieved, and wish you all the luck in the world for your next adventure! We couldn’t let you go without a few photos of your time with us….!