The Real Cost of School Audition Fees

Annemarie-Lewis

The MTA opened in 2009 by Annemarie Lewis Thomas, running the UK’s first accelerated learning programme in triple threat training. It is also the only UK Musical Theatre college to split its acting focus between stage and screen. In 2012 it was awarded The Stage 100 Award of School of the Year, who named them “a new force in drama training.”

The academy was originally based at the Drill Hall (now the RADA Studios), before moving to 89 Holloway Road in 2011. In July 2015 the academy relocated to The Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. Students receive a guarantee that their fees are spent on training, not on securing a profit, and consequently the academy was granted charitable status in 2012

How did you MTA come about, what motivated you to start  the academy?

I was working as a MD and also in my crap job as a teacher. I didn’t like the attitude that some new grads had, and I hated the fact that colleges were profiteering from training.

What’s your ethos at MTA and what do you look for in students?

Our ethos is simple; to train people with old style values, and to be transparent in everything that we do.  We look for our students to have a strength in two disciplines, to be able to be taught the third, and also so try to ensure that they’re nice (or at least can be helped to be nice if life hasn’t taught them that lesson yet)

   Big question alert!!!   So the audition process. How does it work at MTA? 

One! We spend an intense day with the applicants, watching them all the time (even in the breaks). I don’t want to invite people back for various rounds (and at such an expense)…so myself and the team instantly know nowadays if they’ll be trainable – #theMTAway

 Lots of schools get outside agents and casting directors to come in at a fee. You use the staff already on the payroll, which seems sensible as they’ll be the ones training the pupils! What is your view on getting schools justifying fees by getting external panel auditions?

I’m already on record as saying that I think that this is nonsense. It’s clearly attempting to ‘blind people’ with ‘wannabe’ ambitions and false hope.  I’m proud of my senior faculty – they are phenomenal.  Each and every one of them will give me their opinion of whether or not WE’LL be able to get them industry ready within 2 years. An outsider has no idea how our teaching method works etc, so why the hell would I pay them to sit on the panel for a day??


 What’s your view point on regional auditions?

Again I’m on the record for not agreeing with them. I can’t justify the expense of losing my senior faculty for the day, and I want to know that someone auditioning for us has seen us/met us, and knows what we’re about, not just drifted into a room and thought that ‘they’d give it a go’.

 So schools vary from £45-£80 – I have been given many explanations for the cost and I can understand that it’s  a process and  it takes time and staffing but surely a cap is a fair way forward to ensure equal opportunity. Can you give us a breakdown of an average cost for an audition day at MTA?

Unusually we tell applicants on the day of the audition whether or not they’ve been successful. We also give every applicant a questionnaire to anonymously fill in at the end of the day. The point of this is for me to be able to monitor whether or not the auditions are working from the point of the view of the auditionee. So we ask the scary questions like ‘did you feel like you had value for money?’ ‘were you treated as an individual?’ then the more general questions about what they like/disliked about the day, and anything that we could do to improve on their experience.  Check out Anne Marie’s insightful blog here for further information on her process –www.thereviewshub.com/blog-annemarie-lewis-thomas-the-true-price-of-auditions  

  Feedback- schools with thousands of applicants often say feedback is unable to be provided- I read MTA provides feedback, how can you manage to do this? could this be implemented throughout schools?

I think that people need to stop auditioning people in such huge numbers. For starters I don’t really see how they can see the people  when they do this (it’s different auditioning for a show which truly is a cattle call). We can give feedback because we truly run our audition days at a loss!

 

 

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