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Frequently asked questions

    I already have some acting experience. Can I start at a more advanced Award level?

    No, it is not possible to skip Award levels - no matter what your level of prior experience. The Shakespeare Awards are designed to be sequential, starting with Messenger (for ages 12-14) or Bronze (for ages 14+). You can then proceed with the next level. For example, in order to take your Gold Award, you must have completed your Bronze and Silver Awards first.

    What should I wear?

    The main thing is to be comfortable. You may want to wear something that helps you feel ‘in character’, but avoid any conscious attempt at decorative costume or dressing-up, as this is bound to waste time and be distracting. Firm shoes (rather than trainers) may help your delivery.

    What should I bring - or have - with me?

    You may bring very simple props (a letter, for example) if strictly needed for the speech or scene. Bring a pen and paper to take notes, but we strongly recommend that you take notes immediately following the assessment rather than during it. Remember to have water to hand, of course!

    Should I use a different voice from my normal one?

    There is no need for you to play down your accent or ‘posh up’ your voice. The assessor will be looking, above all, for clarity and good natural projection, tinged with a little characterisation where appropriate: in short, a confident use of your normal voice.

    Do I need to memorise the speeches and scenes?

    Yes. Apart for the sight-reading element of the Gold and Platinum Award, adequate performance from memory is part of the Award assessment. The assessors will be patient with you and let you begin again or repeat a passage, if needed.

    In a solo speech, should I speak to the assessor in the room or on-screen as if they were the other character in the scene?

    If you are performing online, then direct address to the camera is best for a monologue. If performing in person, it is better not to do so unless asked - but do choose an eye-line that, while not in direct contact with the assessor, still gives her or him a full-face view of you. Avoid acting side-on too much: in a scene, try to ensure you face the assessor for some of the time.

    If I am performing online, should I stand up?

    Generally, yes. But make sure you can easily adjust your camera for close-up and longer range so that you and the assessor can talk easily.

    What happens if I fail?

    The assessor will report on your efforts to the Director of Short Courses; and he or she will then write to you with some encouraging feedback. Beyond that, RADA cannot undertake to advise you. It is important to remember that a failure to meet the requirements of an award is not the end! You would, we hope, feel encouraged to try again, incorporating the feedback you have been given.

    Will I know how many marks I got?

    We don’t release marks with the results.

    Why have marks at all, then?

    The allocation of marks enables the assessors to make a thorough assessment, as well as helping to maintain fairness and impartiality. RADA Shakespeare Awards are focused more on the process than the result, since the most important thing they can offer is your growth as a person and as a performer. Think of your assessment as a rehearsal in which you work with the assessor to be challenged, inspired and extended.

    Do the Awards count towards school qualifications or university credits?

    There are no school or university credits associated with the RADA Shakespeare Awards. However, In a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, the Shakespeare Awards will add to your CV/resume and could well be a useful 'talking point' in interviews.

    Will I get a certificate if I pass my award?

    Yes. On achieving your award, you will receive a certificate.

    Is there a resource you recommend for research purposes, to help participants prepare?

    Check out our Shakespeare Awards Workshops for Messenger & Bronze and Silver & Gold. These four-day workshops give participants the opportunity to be guided and supported along their Shakespeare Awards journey by RADA tutors, with an Award assessment included at the end. They feature classes in Voice and Physical Performance, plus group rehearsal workshops with a member of the Awards team.

    We also recommend reading Internet Shakespeare Editions. Here, you will find various editions of the plays and poems together with modern transcriptions, many of which have useful explanations of words and concepts. There are also photographs of past productions and interesting artefacts.

    You need to have some familiarity with the plays from which your choice of speeches or scenes are excerpted. YouTube has versions of most of the plays. Apart from the Messenger Award, the assessors will ask you straightforward questions about the plays or sonnets concerned. They are interested in your unique response to the material and hoping to learn themselves. They are not trying to catch you out.

    Do I have to choose my speech or scene from RADA's list of set texts?

    Participants are required to choose their speech or scene from our set list of options provided as a PDF on the Award page, unless otherwise stated.

    The set speeches and scenes are all taken from the earliest available texts - several published in Shakespeare’s lifetime. Some material has been edited for length. The spelling has been modernised (except for the Gold Award) but the punctuation remains original, and so it may appear a little odd or ‘wrong’ at times. We want to display the text as closely to Shakespeare’s intentions as possible. Though you may wish to consult other editions, in which editors have made choices and rationalised spelling and punctuation, please use our set texts, even with their eccentricities, as your script.