More and more young people perceive the glamorous life of an actor as the dream career, but one that is notoriously expensive and difficult to train for. Besides, the truth is, no matter how much innate talent actors may possess, they’ve all perfected their abilities through sheer hard work and dedication to their craft.
Truth is there is no sure route in, and nowadays courses range from the more theoretical options available from most universities to the practical options at specialized drama schools. If you are considering drama training, the cost might be a major consideration in your choice.
Here, we take a look at some of the top drama schools and conservatories throughout the world and the celebrated stars of stage and screen they have produced.
The bottom line is – and you quite certainly already know it – if you attend one of these highly competitive drama schools you’re well on the road to fame and fortune…
“Most of the truly remarkable experiences I’ve had in theatre have filled me with uncertainty and disorientation”
― Anne Bogart
Juilliard won’t pamper you, but it may make you famous. Kevin Spacey counts the story that he complained about tough treatment by a teacher who compared his voice to a frayed rope. “She said, ‘You’re an idiot. Don’t you realize that I’m the hardest on you because I think you’re the most talented, but I also know you’re the laziest?’ And she was right.” Spacey admits it: he got his act together at Juilliard.
Graduates emerge with brilliant language skills, script savvy and thick skins (thus well prepared for the special – sometimes harsh- acting world). Note that Juilliard just added a $10 million grant funding full tuition and stipends for top students. Notable alumni include Jessica Chastain, Laura Linney, Viola Davis, Patti LuPone, Kelsey Grammer, Robin Williams
Tisch’s BFA program got high marks from the CSA, and its MFAs are even more appreciated. According to CSA member Monika Mikkelsen, “They have a power city to draw from, an acting school, directors, writers and filmmaking programs, and students are well-rounded and clear on the very hard course of life they have chosen for themselves.”
Felicity Huffman said that if it weren’t for NYU, she might not have had a career. Nor would Alec Baldwin or Philip Seymour Hoffman?
At Yale, students are not in an ivory tower. They’re at core stage of the national theatre world. Since 2002, the Yale Rep has produced more than 20 premieres of original dramatic works, including two Pulitzer finalists. “They feel like an elite corps of acting engineers: precise, well-read and eerily calm,” says one Casting Society member. “You will see, for instance, that 13 Tony Award nominees this year are graduates of the school and/or current members of the faculty.”
Famous alumni include Meryl Streep, Paul Newman, Sigourney Weaver, Angela Bassett, Patricia Clarkson, Frances McDormand and Paul Giamatti.
The first time Annette Bening became a star was at ACT‘s theatre, which has earned a Tony and welcomed 7 million patrons. Its kid’s program produced Winona Ryder and Nicolas Cage. The school also coached and taught Denzel Washington and Delroy Lindo
Open since 1861, LAMDA sends lots of grads across the pond. It has trained Chris O’Dowd, John Lithgow, Jim Broadbent and Donald Sutherland.
RADA’s main asset is it doesn’t just ‘dump’ its students on the job market (jungle), it assigns each grad at least two RADA ‘buddies’ (pros with at least three years of experience) as mentors to guide them… Notable alumni include Clive Owen, Diana Rigg, Tom Wilkinson, Peter O’Toole and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
“Find your authentic voice, become vulnerable, and then put yourself out there.”— Meredith Brooks (source: Unsplash)
Only 4 percent pass auditions and enter NIDA. “As things have gotten more international, I always make sure that I know about the graduating classes in Australia,” says CSA member Margery Simkin, who cast Pacific Rim. Well-known alumni include the famous Baz Luhrmann, Mel Gibson, Cate Blanchett, Hugo Weaving, Judy Davis
The Cours Florent is a private French Drama school in Paris created in 1967 by François Florent. The school is located on three nearby sites in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. The Cours Florent is known as one of France’s most prestigious schools, offering a three-year program to learn acting as well as theatre classes for children and teenagers.
If you are looking for a drama school in France, this should be your first choice. You would then be following the path of famous actors such as Isabelle Adjani, Yvan Attal, Daniel Auteuil or Guillaume Canet.
Welcome to the RESAD, Spain’s Royal School for Dramatic Arts, the oldest Spanish theatre school and one of the most prestigious in Europe. Since 1831 the RESAD has trained professionals in the world of theatre through a specialized educational program and personalized teaching approach enabling students to excel in all theatrical areas and disciplines.
This focus is not only technical but also artistic and philosophical. A faculty of more than 70 professors and a prime location in the centre of Madrid near the Retiro Park makes the RESAD an excellent place to study.
The National School of Drama is one of its kind in India. It was created by Sangeet Natak Akademi and later became an independent entity. The training it offers is rather intense and is based on a thorough, comprehensive, carefully planned syllabus which covers every aspect of theatre and in which theory is related to practice. For instance, as part of their training, students are asked to produce plays and perform them before a large public.
Affectionately known as South Africa’s ‘Fame School’ for the performing arts, The Waterfront Theatre College has earned a reputation for creating the ‘triple threat’ – people who can sing, dance and act. Founded by South African Theatre TV legends Keith Galloway and Delia Sainsbury in 1992, The Waterfront Theatre College offers a unique opportunity to study varied aspects of the performing arts under one roof.
The school’s intimate environment and through investment in each student ensures that individual needs are supported and personal goals aligned with future objectives.
“Actors and actresses make magic,’ I said. ‘They make things happen on the stage; they invent; they create.”
― Anne Rice (Source: Unsplash)
We hope this is useful. Carry on searching and examining the different options whilst thinking hard about what you want from your degree. Do keep in mind that courses are not for the faint-hearted, as you may find you’re putting in 35-hour weeks in classes. The rewards at the end of it all, however, should be well worth the hard work!
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