BECOMING AN ACTOR Thomasina Unsworth
NHB, Pub 2012 (www.nickhernbooks.co.uk
ISBN: 978 84842 156 1
Rec Price: 10.99
Review: Alexander Ray Edser
Invaluable for Drama students present and future, and much for everyone else.
As Thomasina Unsworth points out in her incredibly useful book, upwards of 1000 people audition for each accredited Drama School in the UK each year.
Of these, each school will take about 30 – 40 new students. Young people who want to go to drama school need all the help they can get then, or can help themselves get. Unsworth’s book sets out, not only to help them prepare for the round of entry auditions, but also to prepare them for what work will be like as a drama student (and beyond.)
Drama Schools have to manage expectations – need to let students know what to expect, particularly in terms of the rigour of study which will almost certainly be a step onwards from what they will have experienced as school, college on in amateur groups. Lack of knowledge of what is to come may be daunting, study as it occurs may seem mysterious or surprisingly in-depth and analytical. This book (Unsworth is in charge of Year 0ne students at Rose Bruford College) analyses both audition procedures and the work students are likely to encounter in their first two years of training.
Her advice for auditions is clear and to the point – and the four examples of what-not-to-do are both entertaining and informative.
Unsworth’s explanations of non-text based exercises and ways to approach text are excellent. In offering exercises she fills in aims and ways of working; she lets us know, too, how the work may also reveal powerful surprises. The section on transitive verbs and text (often known as ‘actioning’) is most welcome. She has interesting ways of exploring text and enables students to avoid writing the (too) frequently employed character history or biography which (too) often is irrelevant to the text; her method of managed free-association bolts the imagining to the text.Much in the text sections, rather than exercises, will enable students to develop best practice for use throughout their careers.
Unsworth also looks at processes in the early stages of work – CVs, auditions, radio work, film and TV work, commercials auditions, agents and so on – as well as how to deal with lean times and rejection.
Students and potential students will find Unsworth’s readable book invaluable; teachers of Drama in schools and colleges will find it invigorating, and those teaching in Drama schools will find it refreshes their work.