Congratulations on making to Chapter 2 of the Actor’s Guide! We’re glad to see you here, reading on acting training options, and the fact that you acknowledge how vitally important such training is to an actor’s career.
Now, let’s take an introductory look at how your dream career can actually begin. In this chapter, we’ll talk more about what acting training options are out there, what’s available for new aspiring actors and what’s best to avoid.
Planning your acting career ahead is the smartest decision an actor can make. Creating a plan, and knowing where you’re going is going to put you ahead of most other budding actors who aren’t sure how to pursue this career goal.
1. Formal Training
There are different trends going on among actors in both US and UK markets.
Majority of aspiring actors in America like to skip any kind of formal training and get straight to working, auditioning and training in acting schools. Most of British actors plan ahead from the time they are teenagers to attend reputable drama schools, or at least get a university degree in acting.
Which choice is better? It depends on a lot of things: your views, needs, time constraints, desire to work, desire to train and of course financial situation. You have to make this decision by yourself, and we are here to provide you the means to do it — all the necessary information on what’s what.
Formal acting training can come from two places: drama school (in US, it’s a college with strong drama department, like Julliard) or university (in US, it’s still college but without the strong focus on acting). More on the difference between drama school and university, and drama school education in general you can read here.
For a list of places to get your formal education in UK, try:
- Top 10 Best Acting Schools in the UK
- Top 5 Best Drama Schools in London
- Top 15 Best Drama Schools in UK
- Top 20 Best Acting Schools in the World
- Top 5 Top Acting Schools in the World
Drama schools normally teach all the basics throughout the whole course: body, movement, voice, etc. There is no focus on one specific acting technique because that’s not how British actors approach acting. Classes run Monday to Friday, 8am-5pm with additional rehearsal time on weekends.
Formal education in acting provides future actors with 3-4 years of acting training and theory. At the end, actors also get their BA/BFA diplomas and can either go to study further and get out into the world and start working as actors. From a bureaucratic standpoint, acting degree itself is only useful for future acting teachers, and not much else.
Unfortunately, drama schools are still very much behind with their education programs. They do not teach actors about the real world that’s out there, and their courses are slightly outdated. TheStage.co.uk wrote time and time again about how drama schools need to widen their area of teaching to accommodate current business standards.
NYT artistic director Paul Roseby went flat out and said that most actors do not require 3-4 years of drama school education; acting classes are a better choice. You’re going to have to decide this for yourself, but in the mean time, this brings us to…
2. Acting Schools
Hopefully you already understand this: acting schools are not drama schools, it’s a whole different world. Acting schools are privately owned and do not provide any form of degree, or even certificate.
Almost every acting city (Los Angeles dominates with its numbers) have hundreds of different kinds of acting schools that together offer thousands of acting classes. Today, there’s so much to choose from:
- Acting techniques: Method, Meisner, Hagen, Adler, etc.
- Audition technique classes
- Sight / Cold reading classes
- Comedy classes
- Improvisation classes
- Commercial classes
- Acting for the camera classes
- Short term acting foundation classes
- On-going acting training classes
- Private coaching
- Voice and body classes
Most acting classes run in the evenings (6pm-9pm) and on weekends. This makes it possible for actors to work at their survival jobs, audition, do acting work and train without sacrificing either one. Just like colleges and universities, acting schools take on students that are 18 or older (there are separate schools for under 18’s).
Average acting schools will accept almost anybody, but in order to be a part of a very good acting class, you’re going to need to audition for them. This is for the benefit of both, you and your acting teacher.
3. Additional Training
Aside from acting classes and drama schools, there’s plenty of other things an actor can do to enhance their chances of getting cast for productions. This is especially useful for our under-18 readers who yet cannot attend classes in either type of school.
What actors might find to be a valuable training later in their career are:
- Elocution lessons and other voice/diction/speech clarity classes
- Dialect and accent coaching
- Fencing training
- Horseback riding classes
- Different types of martial arts
In fact, any other special skill that you can master might put you ahead of your competition. So many castings often search for “actors with plenty of martial arts training”, or “actors with great diction who can do a perfect French accent”, or “someone who can play guitar, harmonica and drums all at the same time”. Any new skill will do!