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Sam Heughan | Interview Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

RCS Audition

I was set to audition for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, March 12.  I was excited about visiting the school, as I already knew one of the students in its musical theatre department.  There were two other applicants with me in the 11:30 time slot, though we would perform our monologues individually rather than in front of the whole group.  I was scheduled to go second, so I waited while the first girl went in. Soon it was my turn.

The audition panel was comprised, yet again, of a man and a woman.  The man opened the door to call me in, where he shook my hand and introduced himself before introducing the woman to me, who also shook my hand when I approached the table.  I stood in front of them and they asked me which pieces I was doing and in which order I wanted to perform them.  Then I began.  After I finished both pieces I sat across the table from them so we could chat a wee bit.  Looking over the form I’d sent in, they noted that I seemed to have a lot of experience, and I told them that I’d been doing theatre practically my whole life.  I also took that as a good opportunity to tell them the brief story of my first experience with theatre, the moment when I got hooked.  They then asked me about my contemporary piece as they were unfamiliar with it, so I gave them a brief summary of Lend Me a Tenor.  After that, I was informed the first recall list would go up around 1:30, and I was free to leave as long as I returned at that time.  I thanked them for seeing me and exited the room.

By the time the last person in my group had finished his audition, we had about an hour and a half to wait for the list to be drawn up.  The three of us opted to hang out together in the student cafeteria and commons area, where we got little snacks and drinks and chatted with one another to pass the time.  It was quite pleasant, apart from the looming idea of the first recall list hovering over us.  At 1:30 we were taken on a tour of the building and facilities with all the others who had auditioned that morning.  I think there were around fifteen of us in total.  The tour was led by two second-year acting students, which gave us a nice opportunity to hear a student’s perspective on the programme.  Then came the moment of truth – the first recall list.  There were six names on the list.  Mine was one of them.

For the next stage of the auditions, the six of us were given packets containing various bits of text from which we could choose for our sight-reading test.  We had time to look them over and prepare, of course.  I was scheduled to go second, which gave me exactly one hour.  I liked the piece I chose and felt I’d be able to do something with it.  When it was my turn to go, the panel had me perform my monologues again and then worked with me a bit on my contemporary piece.  This was to see how well I respond to direction.  Then they had me sit across the table from them again to do the sight-reading test.  This threw me off a bit, admittedly – I’d been expecting to stand for the piece.  I wasn’t quite able, as a result, to choose a strong, fixed focal point, but I think I managed alright.  Then it was time for a more thorough interview.  There was another man in the room with the original two panel members, and he asked most of the questions.  He started off asking about the sight-reading, asking why I’d chosen that piece and what impression I was trying to convey.  Then he moved on to more standard questions, like why I wanted to study at RCS and in the UK, where else I was auditioning, what my previous experience was, etc.  At the end of the interview I was informed that the second recall list would go up around four.  Again, I thanked them for their time and left the room.

I opted to wait in the hallway with the others.  We had lovely conversations as we got to know one another.  Really, it made the harrowing wait much more bearable and even fun, and I’m glad of that.  I got a wee bit more food from the cafeteria, then the whole lot of us were led downstairs where the next list would be put up.  This time, there were only three names on the list – and mine was not one of them.  This meant that I was unsuccessful in my audition and would not be offered a place at the conservatoire for the coming fall.  I was disappointed, but pleased at least to have made it as far as I did.

The afternoon’s disappointment was made much more tolerable by the events of the evening that followed.  Madre and I met up with a friend of mine (the one who currently attends the conservatoire’s musical theatre programme) and we all went to have dinner together.  It was really lovely to be able to see her.  We’d gone to high school together, so it was fun to have the chance to catch up and chat.  It was also nice to get her perspective on the programme and what her other auditions had been like.  All in all, it made me feel much better about the events of the day.  And I quite enjoyed seeing more of Glasgow as well – it’s Scotland’s largest city, but it has a lovely small-town feel to it.  And all the people whom we met were very friendly, welcoming, and helpful.  It’s a shame I won’t be studying there come fall, but oh well.  I’m pleased that I at least got the chance to be there for a day!

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I just see tons of people in my city who are so vastly intelligent, who because they have this ingrained humility, it gets in the way of them expressing themselves and showing how brilliant they are. What drama can do, especially with young people, is it can break through that. And it can give them the tools to walk into a room and express themselves and show them off to the best of their ability, whether they’re going to become actors or directors or whatever it is they’re going to become.

I cannot tell you how badly I want to study abroad at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Can you imagine? Studying at a brilliant Drama school that the likes of David Tennant, Billy Boyd, Colin Morgan, James McAvoy, and Robert Carlyle graced?

But, alas, I’m just an American girl who would probably be eaten alive there. Either that or faint dead away from the honor of actually being there.