God, I Hope I Get It
From the ‘Hard Work’ of Fame to shaking her ‘Tits and Ass’ in A Chorus Line, Kirsty Grant is well known to GMT’s audiences. But she’s come a long way since her first audition for us in 2010. 20 years old, too scared to sing and with a smattering of dance training, few people would have believed that 3 years later she’d be accepting a place to go straight into 3rd year at the prestigious Italia Conti Arts Centre. We asked Kirsty to give us a ‘before and after’ insight into the process of auditioning for the ‘hardest profession in the world’…
In less than a week I’ll be going into the third year of the Performing Arts course at Italia Conti Arts Centre. That is a mad sentence, and a good sentence and one I never thought I’d type. I still can’t quite believe it. I remember holding the name Italia Conti in my mind as something on a painfully unreachable pedestal. As a teenager it was brought to my attention by the name-dropping of its impressive alumni on generic Saturday night chat-shows. Having a look for myself I saw that this was very much the place to be. Of course there are plenty of renowned and well-established theatre schools across London, but this was the one which always stood out to me. Although at the age of 15, I believed the chances of me actually getting there were so few that I might as well put it out of my head. But let’s go back to February 13th 2013... I was boarding the Caledonia Sleeper to London Euston to audition for that very place. This wasn’t the first I’d been to since setting my mind on performing arts training. Two weeks previous I’d been to an audition at London Studio Centre, which was completely scary (ballet) and amazing, but just wasn’t the place for me. I’m still incredibly grateful for the letter of acceptance which eventually came through but like I said, something didn’t feel just right.
Back to the Sleeper train...the journey down was semi-comfortable with me drifting off to sleep somewhere between 1 and 2am. When I awoke at around quarter to seven, I heard the tail end of a conversation happening just outside my door: "…some of us have interviews to get to." After trying and failing to get back to sleep, I eventually became aware that something wasn’t right. Also, Euston sounded particularly quiet for that time in the morning. I pulled up the blackout curtain and looked out onto the opposite platform at Rugby station. Rugby station, which is over an hour from London, which was at that point blocked by a broken-down train on the line. "It’ll be a good few hours before we’re moving again," I was told. This would make me over 3 hours late. Being too tired to freak-out in any real capacity, I decided if I could get off the train I’d just get a taxi and worry about the cost later. This decision was followed by Scotrail staff generally being Scotrail staff, and everyone on board being made aware in no uncertain terms, ‘no-one is to get off this train’. So I walked to the furthest carriage, opened the door and got off the train. At the station entrance there was a replacement bus service with a bewildered looking driver wondering where all his passengers were. I missed the tour of the campus, but a third year student took me on a quick mini tour of my own. The atmosphere as soon as I walked onto the campus was great, everyone took the time to say hello and I was always met with a smile. Eventually it was time, and I was surprised at my lack of nerves; there was only a feeling of determination and a quiet confidence that I'd never been more ready.
The panel were fantastic, we chatted away about the incident with the train and again I picked up on a really positive vibe. I performed my monologue first, from Phil Porter’s contemporary play ‘Blink’ then song; ‘Nothing’ from A Chorus Line; and finally three dance pieces of differing styles. The first was to Lana Del Ray’s ‘Video Games’, a slower lyrical piece with lots of spinning, floating and general melting. Second was a strange hip-hop, jazz mix of some kind of choreography to a section of ‘Viva La Vida’ by Coldplay, which may or may not have worked on the day. I managed to punch myself in the face but no-one seemed to notice. I saved my favourite for last: ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ from Sweet Charity. After an interview with the principal (more positivity) it was back down on the train feeling happy and content. June 2013 Acceptance phone call happens. Lock myself in the toilet and cry happily and inappropriately at work.
6 months later… January 2014 Sitting on my bed trying to remember the routine to the bloody ‘Rich Man’s Frug’ for a dance assessment. It’s not going well. I can’t even begin to explain how much hard work is involved on a day-to-day basis down here. I’m in college from 9am to around 6 or 7pm. Some of the classes on the current timetable include; solo singing, jazz, pirouette class, circus skills, voice classes, ballet, musical theatre, singing/acting audition technique, contemporary, improvisation, corner-work and partner-work. People always ask if it’s what I expected but truthfully I came with no preconceived ideas. I can feel my muscles getting stronger and my technique and flexibility improving. I get to dance, sing and act every day with some of the best people you could wish to be taught by. I’ve played an alcoholic in a 1920s comedy farce, featured in Pixie Lott’s new video, entertained 200 guests over dinner at our Christmas Cabaret night singing not 1 or 2 but 3 solo songs (this would have been near to impossible a few years ago). I’ve worn some great costumes, met some even better people and mastered the ability to do more than one press up (another great success).
There have of course been some low points. I’m usually pretty bruised with a pain somewhere in my body. I’ve been pretty lonely, lost my voice countless times, had the worst migraine since migraines began and feel so overwhelmed sometimes that it’s hard to keep it together. It helps that I’ve moved in with 4 of the best housemates who’ve made me feel like I’ve been here for years. They understand that sometimes you need to do the Carlton dance in your living room and that’s really all you can ask for. It took me a long time to realise that this is the path I wanted to take and at twenty-three I’m the oldest person at college. I’ve definitely made the right decision though. It can only be onwards and upwards after this kind of training, I’ve had to simultaneously catch up, fit in and fake my way through A LOT of stuff over the last three months. Going straight into the third year wasn’t the easiest thing to do. Strangely though, I’ve really started to enjoy near impossible challenges; there’s nothing like being thrown in at the deep end to make you want to succeed even more.
It’s been quite an experience so far; inspiring, exhausting, painful and brilliant. All that I’m certain of is that come graduation in July, I’ll never have felt so proud.