More and more young people perceive the glamorous life of an actor as the dream career, but one that is notoriously expensive and difficult to train for. Besides, the truth is, no matter how much innate talent actors may possess, they've all perfected their abilities through sheer hard work and dedication to their craft.
Truth is there is no sure route in, and nowadays courses range from the more theoretical options available from most universities to the practical options at specialized drama schools. If you are considering drama training, the cost of acting classes might be a major consideration in your choice.
Here, we take a look at some of the top conservatories and drama schools throughout the world and the celebrated stars of stage and screen they have produced.
The bottom line is - and you quite certainly already know it - if you attend one of these highly competitive drama schools you're well on the road to fame and fortune...
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Top Acting Schools in America
Julliard, New York City
Juilliard won't pamper you, but it may make you famous. Kevin Spacey counts the story that he complained about tough treatment by a teacher who compared his voice to a frayed rope. "She said, 'You're an idiot. Don't you realize that I'm the hardest on you because I think you're the most talented, but I also know you're the laziest?' And she was right." Spacey admits it: he got his act together at Juilliard.
Graduates emerge with brilliant language skills, script savvy and thick skins (thus well prepared for the special – sometimes harsh- acting world). Note that Juilliard just added a $10 million grant funding full tuition and stipends for top students. Notable alumni include Jessica Chastain, Laura Linney, Viola Davis, Patti LuPone, Kelsey Grammer, Robin Williams
Tisch School of the Arts, New York City
Tisch's BFA program got high marks from the CSA, and its MFAs are even more appreciated. According to CSA member Monika Mikkelsen, "They have a power city to draw from, an acting school, directors, writers and filmmaking programs, and students are well-rounded and clear on the very hard course of life they have chosen for themselves."
Felicity Huffman said that if it weren't for NYU, she might not have had a career. Nor would Alec Baldwin or Philip Seymour Hoffman?
Yale School of Drama, New Haven, Conn
At Yale, students are not in an ivory tower. They're at core stage of the national theatre world. Since 2002, the Yale Rep has produced more than 20 premieres of original dramatic works, including two Pulitzer finalists. "They feel like an elite corps of acting engineers: precise, well-read and eerily calm," says one Casting Society member. "You will see, for instance, that 13 Tony Award nominees this year are graduates of the school and/or current members of the faculty."
Famous alumni include Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Sigourney Weaver, Angela Bassett, Patricia Clarkson, Frances McDormand and Paul Giamatti.
ACT, San Francisco
The first time Annette Bening became a star was at ACT's theatre, which has earned a Tony and welcomed 7 million patrons. Its kid's program produced Winona Ryder and Nicolas Cage. The school also coached and taught Denzel Washington and Delroy Lindo
Top Acting Schools in the UK
Here are some of the most prestigious acting schools in the UK.
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, London
Open since 1861, LAMDA sends lots of grads across the pond. It has trained Chris O'Dowd, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent and Donald Sutherland.
Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London
RADA’s main asset is it doesn't just ‘dump’ its students on the job market (jungle), it assigns each grad at least two RADA 'buddies' (pros with at least three years of experience) as mentors to guide them... Notable alumni include Clive Owen, Diana Rigg, Tom Wilkinson, Peter O'Toole and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
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Top Acting Schools in Australia
National Institute of Dramatic Arts, Kensington
Only 4 percent pass auditions and enter NIDA. "As things have gotten more international, I always make sure that I know about the graduating classes in Australia," says CSA member Margery Simkin, who cast Pacific Rim. Well-known alumni include the famous Baz Luhrmann, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis
Top Acting Schools in France and Spain
Cours Florent, Paris
The Cours Florent is a private French Drama school in Paris created in 1967 by François Florent. The school is located on three nearby sites in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The Cours Florent is known as one of France's most prestigious schools, offering a three-year program to learn acting as well as theatre classes for children and teenagers.
If you are looking for a drama school in France, this should be your first choice. You would then be following the path of famous actors such as Isabelle Adjani, Yvan Attal, Daniel Auteuil or Guillaume Canet.
Royal School for Performing Arts, Madrid
Welcome to the RESAD, Spain’s Royal School for Dramatic Arts, the oldest Spanish theatre school and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Since 1831 the RESAD has trained professionals in the world of theatre through a specialized educational program and personalized teaching approach enabling students to excel in all theatrical areas and disciplines.
This focus is not only technical but also artistic and philosophical. A faculty of more than 70 professors and a prime location in the centre of Madrid near the Retiro Park makes the RESAD an excellent place to study.
Looking for something closer to home? Try acting classes Manchester for drama courses near you.
Top Acting Schools in India
National School of Drama, India
The National School of Drama is one of its kind in India. It was created by Sangeet Natak Akademi and later became an independent entity. The training it offers is rather intense and is based on a thorough, comprehensive, carefully planned syllabus which covers every aspect of theatre and in which theory is related to practice. For instance, as part of their training, students are asked to produce plays and perform them before a large public.
Top Acting Schools in Africa
Waterfront Theatre School, Cape Town
Affectionately known as South Africa’s 'Fame School' for the performing arts, The Waterfront Theatre College has earned a reputation for creating the 'triple threat' - people who can sing, dance and act. Founded by South African Theatre TV legends Keith Galloway and Delia Sainsbury in 1992, The Waterfront Theatre College offers a unique opportunity to study varied aspects of the performing arts under one roof.
The school’s intimate environment and through investment in each student ensures that individual needs are supported and personal goals aligned with future objectives.
A Few Tips to Boost your Chances of Succeeding in the Acting World (No Matter Where you Study)
- Get experience outside of school: seek out small playhouses and theatres in the local area and audition for various roles. Even if it’s as one of the extras, it will be experience behind the curtain, which is what matters as acting skills continue to be honed.
- Practice! Act as much as possible, in as many roles as possible. Build up a résumé filled with a variety of performances, including theatre productions, commercials, working as an extra, music videos and anything else that gets attention.
- Hire an agent as soon as possible: when a bit of momentum starts to build, it’s time to call in some help. An experienced agent can help actors succeed by offering a huge network of contacts, helping them avoid rookie mistakes and getting auditions that might not be available otherwise. Though not all actors will have an agent, those who want to work with the largest theatre or movie companies will need to have one.
We hope this is useful. Carry on searching and examining the different options whilst thinking hard about what you want from your degree. Do keep in mind that courses are not for the faint-hearted, as you may find you're putting in 35-hour weeks in classes. The rewards at the end of it all, however, should be well worth the hard work!
|Name of School||Location||Famous Alumni |
|The Juilliard School||New York||Kevin Spacey|
|Tisch School of the Arts||New York||Felicity Huffman,Alec Baldwin|
|Yale School of Drama||New Haven, Connecticut||Meryl Streep, Paul Newman|
|American Conservatory Theatre||San Francisco||Nicolas Cage|
|London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts||London||Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent, Swoosie Kurtz and Brian Cox|
|Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts||London||Anthony Hopkins, Mike Leigh, Peter O’Toole|
|National Institute of Dramatic Arts||Kensington, Australia||Baz Luhrmann, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis|
|Cours Florent||Paris||Guillaume Canet, Daniel Auteuil, Isabelle Adjani |
|Royal School for Performing Arts||Madrid||Monica Cruz|
|National School of Drama||India||Priyanka Chopra|
|Waterfront Theatre School||Cape Town||Roxanne Hayward |
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