31 January 2018

Institute of the Arts Barcelona Musical Theatre Audition Experience


Applying and auditioning for drama school is extremely stressful - take it from someone who's currently in the thick of it! I've found blog posts and YouTube videos about people's experience of auditions at the various places I've applied to very helpful in my preparation, so I've decided to start my only series of similar posts to hopefully help a few of you out, or to appeal to those of you who are just interested - Performing Arts can be a very unique and interesting world to those who aren't massively involved in it!

My first ever drama school audition was for the Institute of the Arts Barcelona. I booked on one in Manchester and it was on the 8th January 2018.

For this audition I was asked to prepare: two musical theatre songs and a monologue that could be either contemporary or classical. All three had to be no longer than two minutes long, and sheet music had to presented in a folder.

The day started with a bit of a blunder on my part - I thought it started at 9:00, but it was actually at 10:00. So I arrived an hour and a half early, but I'd much rather be that early than an hour late if my mix up had been the other way around! The mistake meant I had time to relax over a cup of coffee in a nearby Caffe Nero's.

So I went back to the studio at about 9:30, signed in, and introduced myself to the other candidates. By the time the audition was set to begin, there were only eight of us there. Five were there for the dance course, and three (including me) were there for Musical Theatre. Such a small number of auditionees is very unusual for most drama schools, but I loved it personally. It meant I could get to know everyone else auditioning, and I didn't feel overwhelmed.

To start the audition, the two women running it, Nikki Laurence (head of Musical Theatre), and a dance teacher whose name has escaped me and doesn't seem to be listed on the website, introduced themselves and sat us down to discuss a little bit about the school and what would happen that day.


Following that, we started the dance section of the audition. Oh my goodness, this was HARD. To start with, we had ballet technique, and I did not realise how appalling I was at ballet until that very moment. The exercises were taught quickly, and they were more difficult than any exercises I had experienced before. However, the dance teacher was thoughtful and patient, and didn't seem at all frustrated by my difficulty. She corrected small bits of technique in between exercises, which was great because even if it's not a class, I'm interested in learning what I can. We spent half of the session at the barre doing plies, grand battements, and the like, and then moved on to corner work on turns, leaps, and some short allegro and adage movements.

After about maybe an hour and a half of ballet, we moved on to learning a short jazz/commercial dance routine. Again, this was taught quickly, but we went over it a few more times than the ballet exercises, so I picked it up slightly better. It was still technical, but there was a bit more freedom to express myself in the routine, so I felt slightly more confident in this routine than in the ballet. In total, I would say that the dance section of the audition lasted about two hours, and although I found it difficult, I survived it. Bear in mind that my current course has hardly any technical dance training, so if you're more accustomed to classes like this I'm sure you wouldn't struggle anywhere near as much as me. Even if you do find it difficult, I would advise you to keep your chin up and keep going; technique can be taught at a later date, but motivation and determination can't.

When the dance call was over, the three of us auditioning for Musical Theatre were sent out, and the five auditioning for Dance were left to spend another hour and a half in a Contemporary and a Commercial class (don't quote me on that - I wasn't in the room). When they were done, another hour was spent conducting their interviews.

During this time, the other two Musical Theatre applicants and I were able to chat freely with each other. This was absolutely lovely because it offered us a chance to get to know one another, discuss our ambitions, our previous training, and so on. It helped to ease my nerves a little bit to just have a good natter with two friendly girls as well!

When all of the dancers had been dismissed, we were called in one by one to perform our prepared songs and monologues, and have a short interview.


I was called second, and we started by singing my two songs. My first one was 'Goodbye, Little Dream, Goodbye' from Anything Goes. This showcases my head voice nicely, and offers me a chance to play an elegant and ladylike character. My second song was 'Lifeboat' from Heathers. It's low and brooding, with a dramatic belt halfway through, and allows me to play an anxious character on the verge of self-destruction. Both of this songs show off different aspects of my singing and acting, so I think they're a good choice to showcase my ability and versatility.

After this, I was asked to perform my monologue. I performed a monologue from 'Goodbye Charles' by Gabriel Davis. Since both of my songs were quite serious, I decided that a comedic monologue would be another way to show me off as a versatile actor.

When I was done, Nikki Laurence asked me all sorts of questions about the character - what she was afraid of, why was she afraid of it, what was at risk in the situation? I answered all of these to the best of my ability, and then she asked me to perform it again, this time not so rushed. I agreed that my delivery had been hurried (to be honest I was worried that I would be going over the two minute cut off so I spoke quickly to fit the whole thing in), and she advised me that as actors, we know every single word that a character is about to say because we've memorised their lines. However, as people, we have no idea what we'll say next in a conversation, and speaking as a character needs to reflect this. It should never sound too rehearsed. So I performed my monologue again, taking all of this advice and thought process into account. Both women seemed happier with my delivery the second time around: they were smiling and nodding when I had finished, and laughed in the right places while I was performing.

After my monologue, I sat down for my interview. To begin with, I was asked about my history with performing, and I explained that my roles and my confidence have only got bigger as I've progressed through my current training, and that I was looking forward to continuing to develop my skills. We had a short chat about some roles that I'd had or was currently rehearsing for, and then I was asked whether I would be open to doing a foundation year before undertaking a diploma. They explained that this was because of my obvious lack of technical training. I said obviously I would prefer to do a three year course (it's what I applied for, after all), but I'm aware that I need training up so I'd be willing to do a foundation course first if it was all I got. Nikki said that she was pleased I'd said that, but reminded me that she wasn't giving away any decision in bringing it up.

When they'd asked everything they wanted to ask me, I was able to ask my own questions about IAB. I asked about accommodation options, living costs, and about the option to take the Musical Theatre route with a lesser focus on dance. One thing that stood out to me during this conversation was that Nikki mentioned she'd not been asked my questions before, and that I'd obviously done my research. I would recommend asking some inventive questions, as this seemed to impress her and did show that I'd taken a serious look at the IAB website and prospectus.


My individual audition took over half an hour, and both of my fellow auditionees mentioned when I came out that it had been a very long time. They thought that it was promising that they'd taken such an interest in me.

Following my audition, I expected to only be offered a place on the foundation course if they offered me a place at all. I was fully prepared for the disappointment of not being accepted at all, because I know that my dancing was abysmal!

However, I am pleased to reveal that 12 days after my audition I was sent an email offering me a place on their 3-Year BA (Hons) course in Musical Theatre!

Of course, I am absolutely over the moon - it's above and beyond what I expected, and the Institute looks and sounds like a spectacular place for me to study. Since the age of about 13, I've said that I'd love the opportunity to live in Barcelona, and here it is!


I am looking into my options for funding at the moment, and one of these is a GoFundMe page. If you're at all interested in supporting my journey in Musical Theatre, any action you take on this page would be much appreciated!

Thank you for reading, don't be afraid to ask me any questions in the comments, or email me at whoopsitshannah@outlook.com!

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