Why Should I Study Drama?
Going on a proper course is a fantastic opportunity for you to develop your performance abilities. It will really push you as a student to get familiar with performance as an experience. You will find out what talents you ought to focus on, develop your artistic personality and sharpen your acting style thanks to expert mentoring.
Studying Performing Arts will also enable you to enhance your natural talents as well as to develop new ones. Teachers will often tell you that a successful career in acting requires equal parts talent and practice with a bit of luck thrown in.
What should be said is that not every famous actor went to drama school and you don't have to go to drama school to be a famous actor. Honestly, though, it helps. A lot.
And it's not just the training. Rather, drama schools give you the contacts, the exposure, and the experience to get you to where you want to be. For example, agents literally go to the final performances. It's very difficult to get this opportunity by yourself.
What are the Best Options to Study Drama?
From community colleges to performing arts schools to four-year universities, there are numerous educational paths for prospective actors.
In High School
The path to your acting career can actually begin in high school plays and musicals. Drama classes can serve as a good introduction as far as performing is concerned. Students can discover different methods and schools of thought in acting, writing their own material, and different approaches to characters, along with stage and costume design.
High school drama classes and productions allow students to develop their skills and to experience what it feels like to perform in front of an audience, whatever the size. They are also very useful in the sense that they can serve as preparation for the inevitable and countless auditions that await them once they are thrown into once they head off to a college or university drama program.
Although a college education is certainly not mandatory to succeed as a professional actor or actress, it does boost one’s chances to stand out in a very competitive world. Classes will not only improve skills but will help aspiring actors understand what happens behind the scenes, such as contracts and business dealings.
Moreover, classes might include theatre history, stage production, dance, music and the like. College productions sometimes give aspiring actors a chance to be seen by agents and producers who may be looking for promising new talents.
Dedicated acting schools are designed exclusively to teach aspiring actors. Students work closely with experienced actors, theatre directors, and producers whose role is to show the ropes and skills students need to find or have in order to stand out during casting calls.
Performing Arts Schools
Performing arts schools are perfect if you already know you want to work in the performing arts, yet haven’t quite decided how. You will be able to choose between classes designed for actors, dancers, choreographers, singers, comedians and more.
Some community colleges offer associate degrees in theatre, drama and other performing arts fields while trade schools tend to offer more specialized diploma or certificate programs in more specific areas such as like set or costume design.
Which are the Best Schools in the World for Studying Acting?
Please note that the following list of top acting schools is not exhaustive. All schools mentioned have certain things in common:
- They are difficult to get into
- The training they offer is intense
- They are a wee bit pricey.
Yet don’t get discouraged! If you can afford it, then you can train hard enough and be persistent enough to get accepted and succeed.
Top Acting Schools in the UK
Besides offering brilliant courses and producing some of the best talents ever, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, or LAMDA, is also known and famous for being one of the oldest drama schools in the world.
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art is another hugely well-regarded drama school in London. Its president is Sir Kenneth Branagh, and its actor training is some of the most intensive and prestigious in the world.
You could also try the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, another famous school in the heart of London. Of course, you'll cover the range of acting techniques, from the Stanislavski method to improvisation to monologue training.
For those outside of London, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, based in Glasgow, runs an acting course that is considered one of the best in the world. Its alumni include David Tennant and James McAvoy - but, don't worry, you don't have to be Scottish to get in!
You could also try the Oxford School of Drama. This is one of the youngest drama institutions in the country, but it has quickly gained a strong reputation for really excellent tuition and professional training.
Founded by Laurence Olivier, The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is another prestigious institution outside of London. Notable alumni include Pete Postlethwaite, Jeremy Irons, and Daniel Day-Lewis. It's associated with the ground-breaking theatre in the same city, the Bristol Old Vic.
Best Options to Study Drama in the US
It’s hard to get more prestigious than Juilliard, and it is actually harder to get into the school than it is to get accepted into Harvard. Although many famous actors studied there, Robin Williams is possibly THE alumnus to remember.
Yale is no doubt one of the most famous drama schools. Not only is it a privilege to get accepted, it’s just as difficult to stay and train there! If you choose it (good luck), and get in (well done!), then forget about auditioning for 4 years... You won’t have the time or the energy.
Tisch School trained a significant amount of the most famous Broadway stars and is considered to be the top “supplier” of musical actors in the country, and maybe even the world.
The American Conservatory Theater, or ACT, is on our list because like most of the top drama schools in America, it has trained actors whose names should be very familiar to you: do Denzel Washington, Nicolas Cage or Annette Benning ring any bells?
Theatre Schools in the Rest of the World
Cours Florent is considered the most prestigious school for Performing Arts in France. It offers artistic and multidisciplinary programs focusing not only on acting but also staging, music, and dance.
For those looking for something a little different, Paris's Ecole Philippe Gaulier is one of the most prestigious clown schools in the world.
RESAD, the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático, is Spain's answer to RADA. English speakers tend to call it the Royal School for Dramatic Arts - and it is one of the oldest drama schools in Europe. The course covers everything from puppetry and physical theatre to musical theatre, fencing, and dramatic theory.
Vienna's University of Music and Performing Arts is one of the biggest drama schools in the world and is respected for the proficiency of alumni across the curriculum in the performing arts.
NIDA in Kensington, Australia, is also an excellent choice yet very challenging too once you get in. Mel Gibson said: “I mean, I loved NIDA and hated it.” If you do get in, having NIDA on your resume will undoubtedly put you on the map.
The National School of Drama is India's premier acting school and its list of successful alumni is vast. Check out the acting courses they have on offer: from vocal training to stage combat, you'll learn it all.
The Waterfront Theatre School in Cape Town offers a 4-year training programme in a combination of singing, dancing and acting. The school places a strong emphasis on developing the skills relevant to a successful career in either performing or teaching or both.
The World's Best Drama Schools: A Summary
We've put together a little table to make this a bit clearer. These are 10 of the best acting schools around the world:
|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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Entry Requirements for Drama School
So, you now know what options you have for acting training. Yet, if these arts schools are so competitive, how on earth do you go about getting into them?
Without fail, you will have to do an audition - and almost certainly, you'll be required to do more than one. These are the only way for the acting teachers to assess your potential.
As part of these, you will have to prepare monologues, often with one of your texts being Shakespeare. You have to choose the texts yourself - and having a range of different styles and moods is important so that the admissions tutors can assess the breadth of your expressive potential.
Choose these monologues with a professional - which you will be able to find by looking for private drama tutors. More often than not, they know what particular drama schools will like.
On the Spot
But the audition will not just be a case of your, the performer, delivering a monologue and then leaving. Often, the audition will involve the tutor directing your performance a little. They will ask you to focus on particular lines of your monologue and ask you to perform it differently.
Don't be put off by this. If you are serious about a career in acting, this is precisely what you will experience every day.
Again, the audition will probably not just be you in a room before a panel. You may have to perform your monologues in front of other auditionees - i.e. other prospective students - and they in turn will perform in front of you.
The people auditioning you may also go for a bit of spontaneity - getting you all warming up and rehearsing together and working and performing in pairs.
Academic Qualifications and Other Experience
Luckily, there are usually no requirements regarding academic qualifications for most UK drama schools - at least for undergraduate - so you don't need to have any specific GCSE or A Level results to apply.
It is worth pointing out that drama schools in the US and the UK do require a particular level of English language proficiency - so, if you are an international student, it would be worth checking directly with the school to which you are applying.
You will probably be required to submit a personal statement, however. This will detail the reasons why you want to pursue a degree in acting and outline your previous experience and enthusiasm.
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How to Prepare for Your Drama School Audition?
If you are hoping to gain admission to a drama school, it is really important that you consider finding a well-qualified and experienced drama teacher. Find one who has extensive knowledge of the admissions procedure - and ask for their success rate when you first meet them.
They should be able to both work well with you and appreciate your acting style - as otherwise the relationship will not be a hugely successful one.
Make sure that you are comfortable in the monologue you have chosen together. They should be able to advise you on what monologues are technically challenging enough to impress the tutors, but you should be happy with their suggestion.
Meanwhile, absolutely under no circumstances should you only learn the monologue. Ensure that you know the whole play inside out. And equally as importantly, don't just learn the one monologue.
And How Much do Theatre Schools Cost?
The answer to this question depends on where you are hoping to apply. The prospective student in the UK should expect to pay £9000 a year for all drama school courses - like most university courses in the UK - whilst this will differ around the world.
Ecole Philippe Gaulier, for example, costs 6,900 euros a year. The Juilliard School, on the other hand, might set you back $40,000 a year. But if you want to perform on camera - or in theatres on Broadway or in the West End - you might find that this is the best option for you.
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The Right Mindset for Success as an Actor.
Acting is not for everyone - and nor is the world of drama and show-business. But if you are dead set on being involved, there are some things that you are definitely going to have to learn.
If you have these skills, then there is no reason why you can't be the next great thing.
The key trait that you will need as an actor is emotional intelligence. Acting is first and foremost about empathy, about imagining and understanding how another person would react and behave in a given situation.
Imagine you are Juliet, who has just woken up from a stupor to discover that her husband has killed herself on top of her. How would you feel? How would you react? In what way would you move, or speak, or look around?
(The answer to the first question there, by the way, would probably not just be 'sad'.)
Or, a less extreme example, imagine you are Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen's famous character. You are completely dissatisfied by married life. How would someone like this speak? How would someone understand this about her without her having to say it explicitly? How would they change, throughout the course of a year, say?
An Ability to Listen and Take Advice On Board.
Thinking about acting slightly differently, there will be many instances in which you are essentially the tool with which the play's director is to realise his or her vision. A play would not work if every actor did whatever they wanted.
As such, actors need an ability to listen. This means taking on advice; this means changing your performance subtly or totally; this means recognising that your opinion is not the most important one in the room.
Whilst this means listening to your director, it also means bouncing off your fellow actors; it means hearing them, respecting them, and responding to them. When you are on stage, you are very rarely there alone; that's why people say that in drama, reacting is just as important as acting.
Persistence and Ambition.
The acting world is tough. There are way more budding actors than there are possible roles or places in drama schools. And this only means one thing: no matter how good you are (and we have no doubts that you are brilliant!), you are not going to get every job or position that you apply for.
This means that you are going to need to develop a thick skin. You'll need to be able to handle rejection. You'll need to remind yourself that you're brilliant every time someone tells you 'no'. This starts right from the beginning of your career: drama schools might reject you too.
So, if you love acting, stay strong; persist; remember that you are good and that, if you want it enough, you will get there.
Other skills you will need to develop:
- Excellent communication skills: Since much of acting is conveying emotion, setting a scene and otherwise connecting with the audience, excellent speaking and reading skills are imperative.
- A wild creativity: Actors are in a very creative profession, and they have to be able to keep up with other creative types. That means expressing ideas, offering original points of view, and keeping their creativity going with other mediums such as writing or singing.
- Great memorization: Memorizing a script in order to perform long, smooth scenes is a must for any actor in any area of entertainment.
- Physical strength and resistance: Acting may mean being on set for many long hours or handling several hours of stage work without a break, especially during a live performance. Being in good physical condition is the key to handling it.
I would recommend researching each school thoroughly and asking the past and present students when you visit or by contacting people on Facebook. Find out if the school you're interested in relies on specialist training and how exactly do they go about it.
Most importantly, I strongly encourage you to trust your gut when it comes to choosing which school is right for you. Always go and visit the establishments, meet as many teachers and students as you can and do as much research as possible but ultimately if you have a choice trust your gut instinct.
Finally, if you are someone who wants a social student experience and enjoys nights out in a town, you really ought to take that into account when choosing. If you wish your student experience to be epic and if your aim is to meet many new people and party on a regular basis, target a proper city such as London or Paris!
Find the best acting schools in the UK. Or, if you’re looking for a tutor, stop searching google for acting classes and come directly to Superprof. With us, you can find acting classes London, acting classes Manchester, or an acting coach Scotland.