It used to be that if you were a student at drama school, the presumption was that you were on the three year Acting BA. This is no longer the case, with drama schools offering a miscellany of courses; from six month foundation courses to one year MAs specialising in screen acting. With the acting industry’s seeming obsession with youth and the hike in drama school fees, it’s understandable that hopeful thespians will be eager to “get out there” as soon as possible.


However, at Audition Doctor, Tilly always alerts students to the importance of being aware that such short courses mean that future career opportunities have the potential to be affected. An actor trained only in the art of screen acting might find that chances to tread the boards at the National are slim. The percentage of actors who manage to earn a living in purely one medium is small. A three year course at drama school gives you varied and all-encompassing experience from camera work, stagecraft to voice-over technique.

As the Central School of Speech and Drama states: “In today’s multimedia and multifaceted landscape, it is no longer useful to categorise acting in a single generic or restrictive way – it is not how the industry works and it is not how we want to train you. You will be required to become reslient and resourceful and draw on a wide range of acting processes. We will help you to learn how to frame these with self-determined creative and intellectual strategies, alongside professional career targets.”

Actors who have been to drama school will be trained not only in the art of acting but also how to structure their career; the skills taught at drama school will give them more of a chance of sustained longevity. That being said, the industry continuously proves itself to be unpredictable, with untrained unknowns becoming global “stars” overnight.

However, Ian McKellen this week lamented that the combination of the dissolution of regional repertory theatre and actors being eager to move directly into film and television has meant that Britain will no longer be able to produce high-calibre heavyweight actors such as Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi or Michael Gambon. Like drama school, he credited repertory theatre with the ability to develop his acting abilities.

“The danger is going to be that the current generation of actors won’t develop into good middle-aged performers because they won’t have been able to live from their work…The strength of British theatre should be that these actors in their middle years know what they’re doing and are good at it. Not rich, not famous, but making a living.”

In an industry that no longer gives its young members a chance to train “on the job”, so to speak, it seems clear that for the majority, in-depth drama school training is still the best bet to ensure that they can earn a living out of being an actor. Audition Doctor is the best place to go to seek advice, practical direction and professional opinion, which means your chances of defying Ian McKellen’s assessment of the current acting crop’s woeful future are much greater.