Dramacube company member, Milly Stephens, will be appearing at The Rose Theatre over the festive period in The Wind and the Willows. Here we ask her how she found the audition and if she has any advice for aspiring young actors.
Q1: You are appearing at The Rose Theatre this Christmas as part of The Wind in the Willows. Which role are you playing?
Q2: Tell us a bit about your character…
She is unbearably cute and loves gravy. She is also the youngest in the family of five rabbits. She always wants to make friends with people and is very friendly and a bit stupid.
Q3: How did you get the part?
I had a first audition where 300 people under 18 auditioned (on different days). Five days before the audition we were sent an excerpt from the script to learn. I had to perform this in front of the panel of four judges. I also had to learn a song that I was given during the audition. We sang it in pairs first then on our own in front of the judges. We also learnt a dance that was performed in small groups.
Three days later I found out that I had got into a recall which is a second round of auditions that 80 people got into. The recall is similar to the first audition but it is a lot harder – the text that you had to perform was from the script and it wasn’t just you saying your lines you had to act the scene out with other actors. You had to learn the dance and singing off by heart too and perform on your own. I found the recall a lot more challenging.
The Wind in the Willows will be performed from 7 December to January 4th at The Rose Theatre. We have two casts, I am in red cast and we will alternate so I will perform in 22 of the 44 shows. The Rose Theatre holds about 850 people, so we will perform to 35,000 over the December season. That’s a lot!
Q4: What do rehearsals involve and how often do you have to rehearse?
I rehearse every Thursday, Friday and Saturday for about 2-3 hours a day. It soon becomes every day nearer the show. Rehearsals involve some singing to start off with then we do some dance and then we either do “uniting” which is cutting the script into thoughts (not pages or scenes) or we might do animal work where you start with your animal at rest and then make it more and more human until it is 40% human and 60% animal. We also do “combat” for fight scenes and “clowning” because it is a comedy and also “characterization” so that your character is not generalised (eg any rabbit) but specific to your part (eg Rabbit Kitten).
Q5: Where do your rehearsals take place?
Mainly at the Rose theatre in one of the studios. Soon rehearsals will move to Raven’s Ait (the island in the river near Kingston town centre) where the set will be erected so we can practice our scenes. We can’t use the theatre as there are too many other productions being performed.
Q6: You are a member of Dramacube Productions acting company where you started off with a part in Fame Jr. last year. How did you find that experience?
Fame Jr. was my first production ever on a stage at a theatre. I was nervous before we started rehearsals, but we had so much fun together that my nerves turned into excitement. I made so many friends there that I still keep in touch with. Matt was my first director and he brought fun into acting but at the same time he made it feel professional. Fame was only produced in a week – it was one of the best experiences I have had in my life.
Q7: You played Lucy in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as part of Dramacube’s Christmas show last year. How did you learn your lines for such a big role?
Luckily my brother, Tom, was Edmund, one of the other children, so we could rehearse together at home. Because I love Dramacube so much I was dedicated to putting on a good performance. I found my friends there would help me. It was hard to fit in, but it wasn’t stressful as I enjoyed it so much.
Q8: Whilst with Dramacube you have also played Duffy in Annie Jr. and Miss Honey in Matilda the Musical in 20 Minutes. How did you find these roles and what has been your favourite role so far at Dramacube Productions?
I loved being Duffy, one of the orphans, in Annie. We had great fun learning the words and the dances together. We performed Annie in Questors Theatre in Ealing, one of the largest amateur theatres in London, which was amazing and all my friends came to see me. For Miss Honey I made some new friends because I had never performed with any of that cast so everyone was new to me. Lots of them were younger, it was like watching me in Fame Jr. all over again.
Q9: What advice would you give to any young actor/actress going for an audition?
Be confident. Don’t be shy of who you are auditioning to as they will think you’ll definitely be shy on stage if you are in front of them. Don’t fear it because otherwise you will scared of something you are trying to achieve. Be brave and have self-confidence. Also have a go even if it looks impossible, there is always a way.
Be prepared: read what the play is about, the author, the characters. Learn the scripts they give you beforehand really thoroughly so you feel you are prepared for your performance. Last but not least give it a go and have fun!