On the road to Drama School: Matthew Williams
In this series of blogs, we hear from Belgrade Youth Theatre participants who are pursuing a career in the arts and have successfully earned themselves a place at Drama School. Matthew Williams joined the Belgrade’s Youth Theatre in 2013, and stayed with us for three years, giving him the opportunity to appear in many productions on the Belgrade’s stages. He recently auditioned for and gained a place at Drama Centre London. In the interview below, Matthew reveals more about the experiences that led him to follow his dream of becoming a professional actor and how he successfully got his place at Drama School.
How did you first become involved with the Belgrade Theatre?
I first became involved with the Belgrade in 2012 when I was working with Highly Sprung on Child of Terror, and in 2013 I was asked if I’d like to join the Youth Theatre.
How long were you a participant at the Belgrade Theatre?
I was a participant from April 2013 to March 2016.
What was the project that you worked on here that made the most impact on you and why?
The project that had the biggest impact on me would be playing Prospero in The Tempest, directed by Justine Themen. The experience gave me the belief that I could actually perform and taught me valuable skills. From rehearsing, reading scripts, understanding the story and most importantly, performing to an audience every night. It was a challenge, but very exciting.
What made you want to audition for drama school?
I have always wanted to be a professional actor and found out about drama schools through other amateur actors. Hearing their experiences made me want to also gain experience in a professional acting environment. I knew I needed drama school to succeed in the industry and be taught by the best teachers in the country.
Which drama school will you be attending?
I will be attending Drama Centre London located in Kings Cross, London.
What course will you be taking?
How long is the course?
To what other drama schools did you apply?
In the first year of auditioning I applied to Birmingham School of Acting, RADA, LAMDA, Bristol Old Vic, and Drama Centre London. In my second year, I applied to all the same schools, plus Guildhall.
What made you select the one that you did?
Drama Centre London was always my first choice, it’s the one school I was relentless about securing a place at. A lot of my favourite British actors went there and as soon as I auditioned for it, I knew it was the one. The schools reputation really spoke for itself and the teachers there were really kind and hard-working people.
What were your audition pieces?
The 3 speeches I performed were all extracts from plays. The first was Jerusalem by Jez Butterworth, the second was Road by Jim Cartwright and the final piece was Henry V by William Shakespeare.
Can you share with us what the audition process was like?
It varies from school to school, but in the case of Drama Centre, you arrive at the school and have your first audition where they see one classic piece and your contemporary piece, then you have a short interview. You spend an entire day at the school, getting to know the teachers, the students, how the school works, and take part in acting workshops. From this point, you await a yes or no. I was fortunate to receive good news the following day.
Was this the first year that you auditioned? If not, how many years have you been auditioning and what tips would you give to those participants that do not get in on their first (or even second or third) try?
I auditioned 2 years in a row. The best advice I could give is to trust yourself and go on your own instincts. Another important tip is to prepare, read the play, read around the play, know the story and the characters like the back of your hand and research every school you want to audition for. Not everyone will like what you do, so you will hear the word no a lot, but don’t let it be the end. Drama school isn’t the only way into the industry, so walk away with dignity whatever the outcome may be.
What did you find the most difficult challenge?
Performing with confidence when I was working with new people that had very different personalities to what I was used to.
What are you looking forward to most and why?
Training every day to become a professional actor – I’m loving every minute of it.