By Maria Bregman

If you are an aspiring actor who wants to pursue a professional training at a drama school in the UK, you might be wondering what kind of work you should prepare for your audition. After all, drama schools are extremely competitive, with up to 100 applicants per place offered. You want to stand out from the crowd and showcase your talent, but you also want to avoid choosing something that is overdone or clichéd.

So, what is the most popular work shown by applicants for selection to a drama school in the UK? According to a survey conducted by The Stage in 2020, the top three plays that were most frequently performed by applicants were:

  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  • A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller

These three plays are all classics of the Western canon, and they offer a range of challenging roles for actors of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. However, they are also very familiar to the audition panels, who might have seen hundreds of versions of the same scenes over the years. This means that if you choose to perform a monologue or a dialogue from one of these plays, you will have to work extra hard to make it fresh and original, and to avoid falling into the traps of stereotypes or imitation.

Of course, this does not mean that you should avoid these plays altogether. They are popular for a reason, and they can demonstrate your skills and understanding of the craft. However, you should also consider other options that might suit you better, or that might be more relevant to the current social and cultural context. For example, some of the plays that were recommended by drama school tutors and lecturers in the same survey were:

  • Fleabag by Phoebe Waller-Bridge
  • Girls by Theresa Ikoko
  • The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez

These plays are all contemporary and diverse, and they reflect some of the issues and experiences of the modern world. They also offer a variety of roles and styles, from comedy to drama, from realism to fantasy. They might help you to showcase your personality, your versatility, and your connection to the material.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to choose a work that you are passionate about, that you can relate to, and that you can perform with confidence and authenticity. As Helen McVey, director of business development and lecturer in arts leadership and fundraising at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, says: “The best advice I can give is to choose something that speaks to you, that you enjoy, and that you can make your own.”

So, whether you opt for a classic or a contemporary work, make sure that you do your research, that you understand the context and the character, and that you have a clear intention and objective. And most importantly, have fun and enjoy the process. After all, as Jo Wright, head of learning at Birmingham Hippodrome, says: “Acting is about playing, so play!”

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