If you want to be a professional actor, go and train at a recognised Drama School - if you can.
Note that a university course in Drama is something different, so before you use up your Student Loan opportunities, make sure you’re on the right track!
Here are some tips on choosing a Drama School:
1. Research a variety of Drama Schools and courses: investigate their fees and consider the cost of living in that region. How easy is it to travel to and from that city? Create a table on Word and enter all the information in it.
2. Different Drama Schools have different approaches, emphasising different aspects of the work. Find out about their course, what they teach & whether or not it matches what you want.
3. The reputation of a particular Drama School is dependent on the teachers who are there. Should an inspirational member of staff leave, they’ll bring their skills to their next post. Just because a school was great 3 years ago doesn’t mean to say it’s great now. And the converse applies.
4. Don’t dismiss new courses and institutions – many of them are constructing courses which are arguably more tailored to the current demands and opportunities of the industry.
5. Many schools offer first round auditions in Belfast or Dublin – save money by auditioning in Ireland. You’ll not be offered a place on that audition alone: there will be a recall at the school when you can get a chance to see it and get a firsthand impression of whether or not you like it.
6. It’s always interesting to see where actors you know of and whose work you admire trained.
7. There is data available on-line of, for example, what percentage of students from each school are employed after 6 months of graduating. Interesting for comparative purposes.
8. If you’re seriously considering a particular Drama School, contact Creative Learning and we’ll put you in touch with a student who has been to that school and can give you first-hand information. Just remember that current students rarely express negative comments about their school.
9. Ask about how many students are on a course, particularly a Masters course. Remember that Drama Schools have business considerations - if numbers on a course are high, it might not be just because the course is hugely popular!
10. Be ambitious but be realistic. Some schools look for different things. Schools with a longstanding, prestigious reputation are harder to get into so, particularly if you’ve been applying for a number of years, don’t use up your 5 slots on total long-shots.
Philip Crawford is Head of Creative Learning at the Lyric Theatre and a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.