Aoife-Jane Moss joins the National Youth Theatre

Fifty or so years ago the now Dame Helen Mirren is likely to have experienced that which we all have at one time or another (usually the first day at a new school) – butterflies in her tummy. Why? Well alongside the probable nerves of new academic challenges and unfamiliar faces in the playground, the young Helen sought adventure outside the confines of what might then have been considered usual, auditioning as one of the earliest female members of the National Youth Theatre. From playing Cleopatra opposite Laurence Olivier to winning Academy, Golden Globe and Emmy Awards, one could be forgiven the presumption that the now somewhat older Dame reflects on her decision to ‘brave the unknown’ with satisfaction. One wonders, are those raw feelings of eagerness, excitement, fear, as prevalent for this generation of young women as they were in the 1960s? Our very own Aoife-Jane Moss in Upper VI is in a position to speak with some authority on the subject, having just been offered a place in the National Youth Theatre.

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We are absolutely thrilled that Aoife-Jane has succeeded in this, her long held ambition, but we also know when it is time to bow out gracefully and hand the stage over to the real talent. Aoife-Jane, over to you…

“In February of this year I auditioned for the NYT (National Youth Theatre) for the third time, funnily enough in the same venue in which I auditioned aged 16. Back then I performed the same monologue of the Mother from the play ‘The Children’. The day itself comprises a three hour workshop in the morning which involves ‘ice-breaker’ games and a lot of ensemble exercises of non-stop movement, in a room housing 30 young hopefuls; what a buzz!

“My advice for any workshop participant is to enjoy it, don’t overthink anything, be enthusiastic and don’t be afraid to look silly. Following group exercises the workshop leader sometimes asks the group how it felt. Don’t be afraid to put your hand up and share your thoughts. Comparing my experience aged 16 as a first time applicant, to this my third attempt, it is obvious to me that clearly demonstrating high levels of engagement in workshops and being vocal about what excites you about an exercise is crucial.

“After the workshop everyone is allocated time slot for his or her one-to-one audition, usually within the hours of 2pm to 5pm. When it was nearing my time, inevitably the adrenaline started to kick in, but I kept telling myself there was nothing to be nervous about: I knew my lines, I just needed to go in there and show them what I could do and why they should consider inviting me to join their company.

“When they call you in it is usual to have a brief chat before your acting is assessed. This is a very informal process, so there really is nothing to be worried about. The person for whom you audition is one of the two workshop leaders and so is always a friendly, familiar face. I was asked about myself in general, what I enjoyed most about the workshop and what I found challenging. Following the introductory chat I performed my monologue. Don’t hold back, immerse yourself in your character and enjoy those two minutes. This is your opportunity to show them why you would be an asset to their company!

“Occasionally, once an applicant completes their performance, they will be directed to perform part of it again, but differently. Using my own experience as an example, I was asked to repeat my monologue, which originally was extremely active; moving; turning; shouting; manic to say the least, but to do so sitting down, focusing straight ahead at a single point, saying my lines as though watching the conversation between the mother and her son. I expected to find it difficult to capture the same energy because it felt so different, but I loved it. I could feel the atmosphere in the room change completely. They want to see your ability to take direction and adapt to performing in a way you haven’t before considered. Don’t panic if they ask you to do it again differently, I can assure you it’s not because they didn’t like your first performance!

“The end of the audition draws the day to a close. I would say that the whole day is about demonstrating your eagerness and passion to be a part of their company: enjoy it, be open to trying anything and be yourself. Auditioning when I was 16 and 17 were wonderful experiences in themselves; being unsuccessful didn’t stop me from trying a third time. I told myself I would audition every year if that was what it would take, but I’m so happy that it was ‘third time lucky’ for me and that my hard work and determination to be a member of NYT has in the end paid off! So to summarise my advice to any who share my ambition: “Once more unto the breach dear friends…”

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Contributor: TFarmer

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