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Best Acting Schools in the UK: Top 10

I decided that having a list for just London acting schools is not enough — let’s make another one, and it’s best acting schools in the UK. And this one is a Top 10 of the best acting schools in the UK.

How to Become an Actor with No Experience

Every year, thousands of teenagers and young adults decide to pursue a career in acting. They believe that performing is the only thing that will bring happiness to their lives, and I sure can understand them. However, when they graduate secondary school (“high school” for our US visitors), they face a dilemma — whether a degree in performing arts is required to become successful in the industry.

Most of the US market is praying on short-term acting training (2-8 weeks per average), and rarely an actor chooses to pursue a degree in the field; they just try and jump into the pool of this industry right from the start. While it might due to a fact that colleges in America are expensive and they don’t have a well-developed student support system as we have Student Loans Company, the decision to skip the degree is actually a good one.

But that’s just in the US, as they have much better short-term actors training than degree courses; plus, colleges usually disallow their students to audition while they are studying, and nobody wants to lose 4 years of opportunities to tackle the youth market. The fact that UK’s market is different, I had to create this best acting schools in the UK business.

In the United Kingdom, a degree is a huge advantage for an actor. How much of a chance increase can a degree guarantee depends on where it was received. I have covered Acting Universities UK and Best Drama Schools in London topics before, so it would be a good idea to look into those if that’s what you are looking for. Make sure you understand that University degree and drama school degree are as different as night and day. The more detailed reason of why so I will leave for the next article of mine. Right now, let’s dip into our list of the best acting schools in the UK — exclusively drama schools, obviously.

In no particular order.

Best Acting Schools in the UK: Top 10

Mountview Academy of Theater Arts | London

Mountview, as it is often referred to, is currently one of the leading drama schools in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1945 and who’s current president is our beloved ‘M’, Dame Judi Dench. The school places a strong emphasis on professional stage training, but of course introduction to related industries is also there. There are claims that Mountview also supports their alumnus months and even years after they have graduated. So if that is something you are looking into (connections for years to come, why not?), then you should definitely consider applying to Mountview. Make sure you have what it takes though.

Graduates: Brendan Coyle, Denise Welch, Eddie Marsan
Website: http://www.mountview.org.uk

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland | Glasgow

Second on the list of best acting schools in the UK is a drama school for actors in Scotland. RCS (formally RSAMD for Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) is a strong 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. Apart from great undergraduate and post-graduate courses, RCS also has Junior Academy of Drama for under 18 year old youngsters looking to get a head start in their acting career. It is definitely one of the places you will not regret being trained.

Graduates: Robert Carlyle, John Hannah, Billy Boyd, Angela Lonsdale
Website: http://www.rcs.ac.uk 

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts | London

LAMDA is one of the oldest drama schools in the world. After being founded in 1861, it has produced some absolutely great talent. Graduates of this drama school has already taken 19 BAFTAs, 4 Academy Awards, 16 Golden Globes, 36 Olivier Awards and 12 Tonys. Apart from this school looking strong, someone who can manage to get LAMDA onto their resume will score some major points in the great training and showbiz connections department.

Graduates: Donald Sutherland, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent, Swoosie Kurtz, Brian Cox
Website: http://www.lamda.org.uk

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art | London

RADA was founded in 1904 and in addition to being considered one of the top acting schools, it’s the top school hardest to get into. It is named this way for a reason, as it radiates royal reputation. There are classes that involve just one teacher and up to three students. It is said that The Beatles were famous because their RADA-trained manager taught them how to be dramatic. If you’re able to get in, after graduation you’ll be definitely on agents’ and casting directors’ radar.

Graduates: Peter O’Toole, Mike Leigh, Joan Collins, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Vivien Leigh
Website: http://www.rada.ac.uk

Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama | Cardiff

Fifth one on the list of best acting schools in the UK is RWCMD. Established in 1949 in Cardiff Castle, RWCMD — the National Conservatoire of Wales — is on the top level with all other great drama schools of the United Kingdom, and even the world. From what I have read about this school, they really take care of their students during and after the studies to get them onto their feet in the industry. The school has strong connections to local TV broadcast stations, constantly invites casting directors and stages over 300 public performances per year. If you are anywhere near Cardiff or Wales, consider applying to this drama school — satisfaction is guaranteed.

Graduates: Sir Anthony Hopkins, Rob Brydon, Ruth Jones
Website: http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk

Oxford School of Drama | Woodstock

Oxford’s drama school is one of the youngest acting schools in the United Kingdom. While it has been around for only about 26 years, it has already produced a respectable amount of talented and famous performers. It’s a relatively small school with just 18 students on a course, so the competition for a place at this school between elite wanna be actors is a fierce one. This drama school is absolutely independent and is not attached to any of the Universities of the United Kingdom.

Graduates: Lee Boardman, Christina Cole, Catherine McCormack
Website: http://oxforddrama.ac.uk

Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts | London

Italia Conti was founded in 1911 and is named after its founder Italia Conti, who was an established female actor at the time. This drama school has always provided a modern approach to actor’s training based on the core of traditional skills, which means a strong emphasis on screen acting. Many professionals at this school are working in the industry and that equals to great connections after you graduate.

Graduates: Noel Coward, Russell Brand, Leslie Phillips
Website: http://www.italiaconti.com

Central School of Speech and Drama | London

One school making its transfer from London’s list onto best acting schools in the UK list. CSSD is a very highly regarded theater and drama school that was founded in 1906. T0 say that you were able to fill a place in Central, as it’s also known, is a statement to be proud of. Throughout the years this drama school has produced some extremely talented actors that were successful both on stage and in film/TV. This is one of the most unique centers for aspiring actors in London that always there to offer a new form of training in theater and film acting.

Graduates: Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Judi Dench, Peggy Ashcroft, Harold Pinter, Vanessa Redgrave
Website: http://www.cssd.ac.uk

best acting schools in the UK

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School | Bristol

Old Vic Theater School was opened in 1946 by Sir Laurence Olivier. It is now an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama and an associate school of the Faculty of Creative Arts of the University of the West of England. The school provides a world class actors training and has trained some of today’s most famous and talented actors, including the only actor to ever receive 3 Academy Awards in the leading category, Daniel Day-Lewis. Don’t doubt that Old Vic deserves a place on a top 10 list of best acting schools in the UK, and if you have a chance, try and get a training in this amazing institution.

Graduates: Gene Wilder, Patrick Stewart, Daniel Day-Lewis, Jeremy Irons
Website: http://www.oldvic.ac.uk

Guildhall School of Music & Drama | London

The last one on our best acting schools in the UK list is GSMD from London. This drama school is one of the most prestigious in the country, rubbing shoulders not only with great musicians like Jacqueline du Pre and James Galway, but also actors that made a name for themselves both in UK and US markets. Dominic West says of GSMD: “Guildhall gives a broad training — it’s not prescriptive. We’re able to be versatile.” Michelle Dockery said: “Getting in was like winning the lottery.”

Graduates: Ewan McGregor, Joseph Fiennes, Daniel Craig, Rhys Ifans, Orlando Bloom, Eileen Atkins
Website: http://www.gsmd.ac.uk

Best Acting Schools in the UK — To Sum Up…

As you might have noticed, all schools from the best drama schools in London have made it into the Top 10 list of best acting schools in the UK. I’m not biased, nor am I not aware of other good drama schools in the United Kingdom. I do know the great talent that was produced by Manchester Metropolitan University, by Sylvia Young Theatre School or any other that could have been on this list. However, I’ve chosen a list of Top 10 best acting schools in the UK, and I believe that I am right in coming up these particular ones.

There might be a place for one or two more drama schools that I would love to include, but unfortunately rules are rules. I did not want to make it to be a top 15 list, just like I did not want to turn the London list into top 10. I hope you understand, and at the same time I hope this narrowed-down list of best acting schools in the UK will assist you better in choosing place to study. And while the London does dominate the list of best acting schools in the UK, don’t be blinded by this; there’s hundreds of other schools across the UK that are worth your attention.

I believe this best acting schools in the UK list to be bullet-proof, and that’s why getting accepted into any of these drama schools is not going to be an easy task in case you already began dreaming about your future career. You’ll have to work hard to get in, and even if you get rejected the first time — do not stop trying. Many great actors of this day could not make it into drama schools the first time, but persistence is the key, just like it is in the real world of a working actor trying to find success. Also, do not choose a school best on its graduates; choose a place where your heart will set well; 3 years is a long time.

I sincerely hope this list of the best acting schools in the UK will be of an assistance to you, and if you spot a mistake, don’t hesitate to comment on this.

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