BTEC Performing Arts
Welcome to the Performing Arts BTEC at Becket Keys. If you have chosen this course, it should mean that you are passionate about performance and/or are interested in a career in the performing arts. This is a largely practical subject and is designed to refine your skills and to develop you in the areas you love and already feel comfortable in. However, this course will also take you beyond your comfort zone, stretching and challenging you in areas you may not have explored before.
You will also be expected to have an understanding of the key influences and practitioners of the performing arts over the past century, studying different styles and philosophies of theatre, dance and music.
As a course, this BTEC is creative, rewarding and can be a lot of fun. However, you need to be aware that, if this is something you are serious about, you are embarking on a career that is incredibly demanding and unbelievably competitive. You are going to have to work so hard if you want to stand out from the crowd and have the remotest chance of forging a successful career for yourself.
To get a head start, there are three things you need to work on to best prepare you for September.
Prepare an Audition. Let us start by seeing what you can do. At the start of the course, we want to see you dance, sing and act. Your audition pieces will be something you need to refine throughout your career. Research Practitioners. There are so many different styles of performance. The more you know and have experience of, the better chance you give yourself of impressing casting agents and finding work. Watch Theatre. Watch lots of theatre. This is a great way to get inspired, learn techniques and generate ideas. You will see things on stage which will make you think or feel a certain way; it may prompt a cathartic response, shock you or make you consider a topic in a completely new light. As performers, we are constantly learning from each other as well as stealing and adapting each other’s ideas to create great theatre. The more theatre you watch, the better a performer you become.
Prepare an Audition
At the beginning of Year 12, we want you to audition. This will allow your teachers to determine your strengths in each area of the performing arts and will help us to plan the rest of the course to work around you. Therefore, regardless of your experience, skillset or area of comfort, we would like you to prepare a monologue, a song and a dance routine.
Acting First, you need to prepare a monologue. Here are some good places to find top-quality monologues:
There are loads of books that contain collections of monologues for men and women (here are just a couple of examples). Simply go to Amazon and search for “monologues for men” or “monologues for women”. Then you just need to choose one of the many books available.
Alternatively, visit the following website for a good collection of monologues online: https://www.backstage.com/monologues/
Monologue Hints and Tips: Preparing a monologue can be difficult as it does not require you to get together with other performers and rehearse. As a result, inexperienced performers fall into the trap of simply learning their lines and casually whispering the monologue on their own in their bedrooms. This means that you end up performing your monologue for the first time during the actual audition and so the performance is not as refined as it should be. Make sure you rehearse properly by: o Setting up your performance space o Rehearsing in an area where you feel free to speak and shout confidently o Finding a director/audience who can see you perform and then offer some feedback Annotate your monologue. Make notes on ways you can use voice and physicality to bring the piece to life. EXTN: Drama schools and theatres will often ask you to prepare two audition monologues: one modern and one classical (usually Shakespeare). If you are serious about wanting a career in the performing arts, prepare two audition pieces and make sure one of them is Shakespearean.
Singing Pick a song that shows off your ability as a singer. If you have great range, pick a song that shows off that range; if you have a soulful style or powerful lungs or an ability to recite words quickly and clearly (e.g. some forms of rap), choose something that is going to demonstrate those traits.
Remember, we will not just be looking at the quality of your voice but your general delivery so pick a song which you can really perform. Choose something with some emotional depth or that tells a story. A song from a musical is probably ideal for this. Add movement so that we can better imagine what this might look like on stage or in the middle of a show.
Dancing If you are a dancer or a have some dance experience, pick (or choreograph) a solo routine which best shows off your strengths and chosen form (e.g. ballet, street, contemporary). However, for many of you, dance will be the area of the course furthest from your comfort zone. If it makes you feel more comfortable, find a partner or a group of other students with whom you could dance. Also, know that a dramatic physical theatre routine would also be acceptable. Essentially, we want to see how well you can use physicality to tell a story or explore a theme or emotion.
One of the first things you will be doing in Year 12 is investigating practitioners to find out which styles of performance you are most interested in and would like to follow more closely. This is going to be crucial in determining your own style and philosophy on performance and may end up inspiring and influencing you for the rest of your professional life. As a result, you want to make sure that you start by exploring as many options as possible in order to find the best fit for you. Here is a list of 20 theatre/dance companies and practitioners who have had considerable influence over the performance industry during the past century. Briefly research each one and then pick out three that you would like to study more closely.
How interested are you in this style of What are their theories/philosophies List 2 or 3 pieces of performance? Practitioner on performance (describe briefly in two work that they are best Score from 1-10: or three sentences) known for 10 = I would be happy to dedicate the rest of my career to this style of performance 1 = I have no interest in this
Cirque de Soleil
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Which three of the above practitioners would you like to study more closely (rank them in order of interest)? Practitioner What is it about their style of theatre that appeals to you? 1
Watch as much as you can over the summer holiday. West End musicals are a good place to start and are a great example of top quality theatre and performance. However, they are usually incredibly expensive and generally only represent one style of performance. To be ready for your BTEC, you want to make sure that you have seen and considered a much wider range of performance styles. Here is a list of performance venues that I would recommend as they tend to produce interesting pieces of theatre (and are also considerably cheaper than the West End).
Mainstream/Popular Theatres in London
National Theatre Barbican Young Vic Old Vic
Fringe Theatres in London Usually weird and interesting, fringe theatre tends to be much more experimental in style. Audiences will be considerably smaller, creating a far more intimate setting and you are more likely to experience different types of staging (e.g. in the round, traverse, promenade). They are also often much cheaper than mainstream theatres. Here are some of the top fringe theatres to visit:
The Pleasance (Camden) The Cockpit Theatre (Marylebone) Pentameters Theatre (Hampstead) The Canal Café Theatre (Little Venice) Tristan Bates Theatre (Covent Garden) Upstairs at the Gatehouse (Highgate Village)
Site Specific Theatres These are theatres where the space itself creates meaning and can transform the whole piece being performed. These often have a very different feel and dynamic to mainstream theatres and it is well worth checking out at least one of these venues:
Shakespeare’s Globe Regents Park Open Air Theatre Alice’s Adventures Underground (The Vaults – Waterloo)
Alternative Options If you are struggling to afford theatre tickets, getting into London is problematic or you just want to watch as much as possible between live visits to the theatre, consider these alternative options:
National Theatre Live – The National Theatre regularly film and broadcast plays, dances and operas to cinemas around the country. For the price of a cinema ticket, you can sit and watch a professional performance piece on the big screen while it is being performed live. Digital Theatre – The home option. For a small fee, you can download previously performed pieces. They do not have a huge selection but what they do have is brilliant and you can rent a play for just £1.99. Amateur Dramatics – There are many am-dram performance companies in Brentwood. These are great to checkout. They are local (less travelling), tend to be cheap and they show you what you can do with a non- professional cast and a shoestring budget (exactly the kind of constraints you will be performing under).
NB: Make sure you check the suitability of the performance before you book the tickets. Many of the theatres listed above sometimes put on performance pieces containing adult content. But they should add disclaimers to their website if a piece contains nudity, violence or other mature content. It is your responsibility to ensure you are watching performances that are appropriate for you. Theatre Log
Give a brief review (What was interesting about this piece? What did you Where did Date Play Playwright like about it? Did anything about the performance, you see it? direction or design inspire you? Are there any ideas you can steal?) Continue on a separate piece of paper if necessary