Ellie Mulan gives the Freshers’ perspective on auditioning for a DST production, realising it is a little more competitive than at Senior School.
Its 9:30 am on a Saturday morning – I’m hungover, tired and unwashed, yet about to perform an intricate dance routine in front of a DULOG panel, with the aim of landing a role in their production of Cabaret.
Around me are lyrca-clad, bright-eyed auditionees, who obviously had the dedication, unlike me, to resist the temptation of Klute and their infamous quaddies the night before.
We’ve already had to go through one round of auditions to get to this stage. Rumours have circulated that many were rejected before even getting a chance to sing a song, which, regardless of the rumours veracity, only intensified my imaginings of the cut-throat, ruthless nature of university theatre that I had feared.
I had always been a regular on the school production scene. For as long as I can remember I’ve belted my heart out to backing tracks from Oliver Twist, twirled around in homemade costumes for Bugsy Malone, and stumbled through Shakespeare’s language in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I loved every minute of it, and naturally when coming to university I wanted to continue my favourite hobby.
When getting accepted into Durham, I trawled through countless websites promoting the theatre scene here, excited by the prospect of a starring role in my first term.
How wrong I was! I was amazed and frankly daunted by the professional nature of the productions when watching their promotional videos.
Instead of school halls, there were proper concert venues. Rather than dodgy dance routines led by the English teacher, there were slick intricate choreography, and off-key belting has been replaced with on point, polished vocals.
I found all of this, of course, very intimidating.
Yet, not completely undeterred; I launched myself into auditions for anything I could get my hands on.
The audition for DULOG’s Cabaret compromised of a very raunchy set of choreography, with the climax of the routine being a crotch grab (which some of the more confident boys enjoyed worryingly a bit too much), and a song from the musical itself – the trilling high pitches of its lyrics making my vodka-ridden stomach churn.
The comments from other auditionee’s also filled me with dread – the comment “Yes, my secondary school is very much seen as a feeder for Mountview and GSA” made me giggle, thinking back to my school’s dodgy rendition of Les Miserable in the YMCA gym.
However, despite embarrassing myself on a few occasions, I’ve loved every minute of it so far.
I may have spent the last 400 words highlighting the intimidating aspect of university theatre, but the reality is a whole lot different when you just get involved.
The people who I’ve met are friendly and helpful, the auditions are not that daunting once you get used to them and, if nothing else, you’ll have an amusing story to tell your friends once you get back to college.
Yes, the standard is ten times higher than what most are used to, but why not give it a go anyway? Besides, you may get a recall over masses of other auditions – and that, for me, is an achievement in itself.
Illustration: Christie Lau