Guildhall School of Music & Drama announces overhaul of auditions for Acting programmes

Published: Monday, 17th February 2020, 10:00am

Guildhall School of Music and Drama
Guildhall School of Music and Drama

The one-off fee to audition in the UK for Acting programmes will reduce from £66 to £35, a decrease of 47%. This is the most financially accessible one-off application/audition fee of the major drama schools and covers all three rounds of auditions. Guildhall School is also significantly increasing the number of cities nationwide it holds auditions in from two to six, taking place over 22 days each year in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, Newcastle and Nottingham, as well as in London. The first two rounds at nationwide auditions will now be held on the same day, in an additional move to curb travel costs for applicants.  The changes will come into effect when applications open for 2021 entry in September 2020.

The application fee is used to contribute to the costs of Guildhall School’s rigorous and bespoke audition process. Students are not selected on academic qualifications or previous experience, but on talent and potential that is assessed in person. Panellists are employed in auditions from November through to May each year, seeing over 2,600 applicants on a panel-to-one basis. An applicant that makes it through to the final round of auditions at Guildhall School will have had significant intensive individual and group workshops and feedback from School staff and industry panellists.

Paapa Essiedu, Actor (Pass Over, Kiln Theatre, Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company & Press, BBC) and Guildhall School alumnus (2012) says: ‘By halving the audition fee, Guildhall are making a step in the right direction towards telling people of all backgrounds “This place is for you too!” There’s no doubt that this will help to provide opportunities for prospective students who would otherwise have been priced out.’

These new measures will support the extensive work already being done to remove barriers from applying to and undertaking training at Guildhall School. Currently, over 50% of Guildhall School students receive some form of financial support, including 56% of Acting students*. As well as being committed to gender equality amongst acting staff and students, over the past year the percentage of new students from a BAME background on the BA & MA Acting course from all domiciles increased from 36% to 46%**.

The School already runs a number of initiatives and projects to encourage applications from those from underrepresented backgrounds:

  • Supported Application Scheme: a programme of support offering eligible undergraduate applicants a free application, invitations to workshops and events, and advice and guidance throughout the audition process. For those successful in obtaining a place to study, additional support on scholarship applications and transition to the School is available
  • Financial Support: over £2 million of scholarships is given to undergraduate and postgraduate students regardless of domicile; a hardship fund for students who find themselves in unexpected financial difficulties is also available during their course of study
  • Guildhall Access Bursary: UK undergraduate students from low income households who qualify as care leavers, estranged or independent students can apply for a bursary between £3,000-£5,000 per year
  • Participation Bursaries: full and partial funding for a number of the School’s short courses, providing a taste of what it is like to study at Guildhall School
  • Drama outreach: graduates from Guildhall School’s Acting programme deliver workshops for free in a number of schools, colleges and youth theatres
  • Tickets for shows: a number of complimentary tickets are made available for key performances at the School to schools and youth groups
  • Open Door: Guildhall School is part of the scheme which offers free auditions, travel and theatre trips; fifteen hours of one-to-one tutoring; musical tutoring; bespoke workshops; and bursary/funding advice to successful applicants
  • Diversity School Initiative: Guildhall School signed a three-year partnership with the Diversity School Initiative in March 2018 to address under-representation and diversity in UK drama schools