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Drama Schools

Should I Train To Become An Actor?

The acting profession is one of the most competitive professions in the world. Unlike becoming an engineer where demand is greater than supply, actors are in abundance. If you become an actor you have to be realistic. On average an actor will work professionally 11.3 weeks of the year. Earning a low salary. Unless you are in the top bracket of wanted actors, most likely you will have to take up a second job of temporary employment in order to survive.     

If you are currently in mainstream education, and you wish to get into the acting profession either as an actor, stage management or technical theatre. The general advice is ‘ stay in mainstream education until you are 18’ and ‘get your qualifications.’ Drama schools do not take on students under the age of 18 and look for maturity in a student when applying, it is not uncommon for a young applicant to be rejected from a drama school and told to ‘ get some life experience’ before re-applying. Often this does not mean you are ‘not good enough to get in to their school’ it just means they want to work with some one more mature. – So go out and get ‘ life experience’ go round the world, try doing work experience in a theatre, save money and then reapply the following term. Trust me you will understand why after you have.
But don’t worry acting or the path to ‘becoming an actor’ isn’t all doom and gloom. Because once you enter the profession and if you have a ‘real’ passion in the arts the reward can be colossal! How many people do you know who can claim they do a job they love! Know any accountants? 
If you are determined to make it in the harsh world of the entertainment industry, it makes sense to have as many advantages as possible.

Applying to a drama school can be leapfrog in to succeeding in the industry.
It is not the only way however. Take this for example. I know a man who left school at 16 to work as a cashier in Lloyds Bank (now Lloyds TSB) he managed to work his way up the ladder year by year increasing his position within the company, now at 49 he is a manager of 3 big braches in the North East. The reason I am giving this as an example is, such as training, doing ‘formal’ education is not the only way to make it to the top, but it helps. For example if he had gone into education and studied accountancy for example he wouldn’t of had to be a cashier first, he could of “leap forged” that stage and gone straight into management. Who know he may of become of a higher position within the company. Do you see what I am trying to get at?
If you want to become an actor ‘formal’ training is not the only way to “make it.”  However it helps. If you train in a NCDT accredited school you will walk away after your degree with an equity membership that entitles you to work straight away. 

Training will also give you an opportunity to get noticed quicker and allows you to showcase your abilities to the right people (agents, casting directors, theatre and television companies.) it should also be noted that to keep a long-life career as an actor, stage manager or theatre technician you need professional skills. Most will have up to three years of professional vocational training, and if you have to compete against them with none it will be very difficult. A report carried out by the Institute of Manpower Studies on behalf of the Arts Council of England found that 86% of actors working in the profession had received formal professional training. 
Here is a statistic for you if you wish to train in stage management- almost 100% employment rate for graduates from NCDT Stage Management and Technical Theatre accredited courses.

Also if you want to get involved in drama training it is important to distinct between courses. A vocational course and a performing arts course are two very different things. Universities offer performing arts courses and the higher education funding council funds over 2,100 degree courses with “theatre” or “drama” in there title, even though they may appear to have a direct connection with the industry, most of them don’t. They are usually more academic and do not fully train you in becoming a professional actor.  However if this is for you, you can contact the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments on there site http://www.scudd.org.uk/index.htm


 
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