BA (Hons) in Acting
Years 1 and 2
The first two years are training years. During this period you will concentrate on acquiring the skills they need as professional actors. The time is divided between classwork and rehearsal projects. During the first two terms you will spend most of your time in classes, with more time on projects as the course progresses. Both classwork and rehearsal projects focus on developing and integrating four main areas of study: acting, voice, movement and playtexts.
The training is based on working both individually and as an ensemble. For much of the work, the year group is divided into half or quarter groups, allowing each student the maximum individual attention. There are also some individual tutorials and many opportunities for one-to-one consultation and feedback. The groups are rearranged, usually each term, so that by the end of the second year you have worked closely with every other member of the year. From time to time, elements of the curriculum change as the teaching staff continuously assess the content of the course to judge whether it remains appropriate to those who are training.
Acting studies include stagecraft, improvisation, games and storytelling, mime, circus and physical theatre. Classes in radio and television work are added later in the training, using the School’s own equipment and radio studio.
Voice studies cover voice and speech classes, poetry and prose, singing, phonetics, dialects and a great deal of work on language, including Shakespeare.
Movement studies cover pure movement, movement improvisation, including animal studies and mask work, period dance and 20th-Century dance, showdance, acrobatics and stage combat.
Acting Research investigates plays and theatre forms representative of the major periods of Western theatre, as well as examples from world drama. These are explored within their cultural context and support students in their investigation of an actor’s preparation and creative process.
Rehearsal projects give you the opportunity to apply the skills learnt in classes to a wide variety of plays. These usually include: early English drama, Shakespeare, Restoration or 18th-century comedy, Chekhov and other 19th-century drama, 20th-century political plays, devised work, musical theatre and other modern drama. You take part in an in-house radio production directed by a well-known producer and record a play, as well as a great deal of camera work.
Methods of rehearsal and preparation include research into the world and characters of the play, analysis of the text and different approaches to it, building on, and developing from, many of the principles formulated by major practitioners such as Stanislavski. The programme also embraces other cultural traditions and more innovative approaches.
By the third year, you will be technically proficient vocally and physically. You will have developed your own working processes. Most of your time will be spent rehearsing and performing to the public and to potential employers. You will work on around five productions, playing a wide variety of roles in plays of varying styles, working with several different directors. You will also be offered the opportunity to write and perform a Solo Performance.
There are also sessions to prepare you for the acting profession, as well as audition showcases regularly attended by agents, theatre and casting directors.
Productions and casting
In the final year the entire year group forms a company which performs in about eight public productions in the School’s theatres and in other professional theatres, in a TV project and in audition showcases, regularly attended by agents, theatre and casting directors.
Sometimes you all take part in the same production; sometimes the company is split, so as to rehearse more than one production simultaneously. You usually work with five directors, some of whom will be staff directors, others visitors.
You play a wide variety of roles in plays of varying styles. The particular qualities of the group help to determine the choice of plays, but the repertoire usually includes: a major classical play, usually one by Shakespeare; a musical; a contemporary play, often recently written and where possible with the involvement of the author; translations; adaptations.
You play as cast in public performances. Where your progress justifies it in the view of the senior staff, you may be given a role central to the development of a play, but the School does not guarantee major protagonist casting to any student.
A selected team of students enters a variety of competitions and occasional outside events, such as the Wanamaker Festival at Shakespeare's Globe.