Studies show that more and more people wish to express their artistic talents and pursue their dream of becoming actors or theatre performers, and are thus looking to audition for drama school this year. Given the number of existing schools, it can be rather tough to decide which one to approach.
Most drama schools have an audition fee, and every audition takes quite a lot of time, which is why it is so important to find the best-suited schools in the first place. If you are looking to enrol, and although it is always important to do your own research, this list will give you a pretty good overview of the landscape in the UK. To build up this list, we have focused on reputation, alumni, teaching staff, facilities and industry standings.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to move to London to train in drama. True, many of the best drama training institutions in the UK are based in the capital but living away from home can be prohibitively expensive. Elsewhere in the UK, there are many celebrated courses at universities and colleges offering thorough training in acting, leading to a degree too.
“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different, then finding myself in there.” ― Meryl Streep (Source : Unsplash)
LAMDA is one of the oldest drama schools in the world and has proven to be excellent. It was founded in 1861 and since then has produced some fantastic talents such as Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent, Swoosie Kurtz and Brian Cox.
Graduates of this drama school usually end up with amazing roles and have already won 4 Academy Awards, 16 Golden Globes, 36 Olivier Awards and 12 Tonys. In addition to benefiting from brilliant courses, being able to quote LAMDA on your resume will unquestionably make you score major points for your future career (and showbiz connections).
The prestigious RADA was founded in 1904 and in addition to being considered one of the top acting schools, it is known as the most difficult school to get into. Classes sometimes only involve one teacher and a maximum of three students. It is whispered that The Beatles became legendary because their RADA-trained manager taught them how to be dramatic.
Anyone who manages to get into RADA will definitely be on agents’ and casting directors’ radar right after graduation. Graduates include Anthony Hopkins, Mike Leigh, Peter O’Toole and many more famous actors.
Rose Bruford College was founded by Rose Bruford (a professional actress and speech teacher) and is known to be a very good drama school with a solid reputation. The University-level degrees it delivers are approved by the University of Manchester, and the school is renowned to be one of the complete providers for brilliant theatre-focused courses throughout Western Europe. Famous graduates include Greg Hicks, Roy Williams and Cheryl Fergison.
Established in 1972, Sylvia Young is one of the rare drama schools that offer part-time classes, which can be a good option if you aspire to work whilst studying. The full-time acting training course launched in 1981 and hasn’t stopped training rather amazing talents since then.
Sylvia Young undoubtedly offers a variety of very qualitative acting training, both for stage and screen performers, as well as other arts. Surely you will have heard of the school’s famous alumni Nick Berry Adam Woodyatt and Perry Fenwick!
Mountview, as it is often quoted, is presently one of the leading drama schools in the UK. The school was founded in 1945, and has since then trained performers such as Brendan Coyle and Denise Welsh, and places a strong emphasis on professional stage training.
It is also said that Mountview supports all students for months and even years after they have graduated. So if you believe you have what it takes (the auditions are known to be rather tough and teachers pretty demanding), then you should definitely consider applying to Mountview.
Not far from Cardiff, in the south of England, students have several options for world-class training to degree level. In Clifton, the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is known as one of the country’s leading conservatoire drama schools, providing foundation courses and the three-year BA in acting.
The school has the advantage of having an international reputation for its brilliant training in voice, movement and creativity in preparation for careers mixing all aspects of the entertainment industry.
MMU is a popular choice for actors in the North West of England. This well-known school has trained great talents such as Amanda Burton, Steve Coogan and Richard Griffith. The university school also works closely with BBC North and Granada, and thus will guarantee a spot on a map for most alumni actors.
The teaching is mainly centred on physical theatre practitioners such as Grotowski, and works of Brecht and Stanislavski’s philosophies and teachings.
GSA has progressively built a reputation of providing quality training to its actors and performers. If you’re anywhere around the area, or you’re in the position where a part-time acting course is your only choice, you will never go wrong with an acting school like GSA.
The school offers professional teaching and academic degrees in theatre, dance, acting, musical theatre and production skills such as stage management, lighting and sound design. Following a re-structure in 2016, GSA now includes great academic programmes in Theatre & Performance and Dance which had previously been part of the university’s School of Arts.
E15 drama school was founded in 1961 by Margaret Walker. The school’s approach is mainly based Mr Stanislavski’s works. E15 provides very good training for both stage and screen acting.
The school also provides extra courses such as combat, fencing, etc. which can provide future performers with great added value. Graduates include the well-known Alan Ford, Billy Murray and David Yates.
Oxford’s drama school is one of the youngest best drama schools in the UK. While it has been around for no more than 26 years, it has already produced a respectable amount of talented and famous performers (Lee Boardman, Christina Cole, Catherine McCormack).
The school chooses to train only 18 students per course, hence great competition to get in. Also note that Oxford’as drama school is absolutely independent, which means it is not attached to any of the Universities in the UK.
In Liverpool, the internationally admired Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts delivers its own BA (Hons) acting course. The school offers around 36 places per year and potential entrants are expected to have attained a minimum of 64 UCAS points but the faculty is also looking for key attributes in their students, including self-awareness, commitment and an entrepreneurial spirit to create new work.
“The theatre is the only institution in the world which has been dying for four thousand years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.”
― John Steinbeck (Source: Unsplash)
Established in 1949 in Cardiff Castle, RWCMD (The National Conservatoire of Wales) is another top-level acting school in the United Kingdom, and even the world.
Most testimonials and articles concerning this school agree to say that it truly cares for its students and makes sure each one of them is taken care of during and after the studies, thus really helping them get onto their feet in the industry. To do so, the school nourishes very close partnerships with local TV stations and regularly invites casting directors. In addition to this, the RWCMD stages over 300 performances every year.
Graduates include Sir Anthony Hopkins and Ruth Jones. If you are anywhere near Cardiff or consider the idea of living in Wales, this drama school could be a very good option and will shine on your Curriculum.
Located in Scotland, RCS (formally RSAMD for Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) is a solid drama school founded as long ago as 1847. Prince Charles is currently a patron of the Academy, helping to maintain a school’s place as a vibrant conservatoire.
RCS also has Junior Academy of Drama for under 18-year-old youngsters who wish to get a head start in their performing career. It is definitely a fantastic school which no one seems to regret having been to. Certainly not Robert Carlyle, John Hannah or Angela Lonsdale anyway!
A tutor with experience performing will charge more than one without. (Source: pixabay.com)
Please remember that as a matter of fact, an acting degree from a University is not the same as a degree from a reputable drama school, especially if that drama school is included on this list of the best drama schools in London.
Most casting directors will always look at someone with a degree from, let’s say, RADA rather than from Hull College; even if the 3-year program states to be identical.
Here is a summary table of the above-mentioned schools:
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