This week on BBC Radio 4 Today, Paul Roseby, Head of NYT, reiterated his stance on drama school training. He refuted the belief that you could teach someone to act and deplored many drama school graduates as being “over moulded and over trained”. He asserted that “the best way is to learn in front of an audience and garner that instinct”.
“I hear it a lot – people that have from drama schools have a certain label attached to them, a certain mould…When you’re auditioning for a cornflake commercial, nobody says ‘What degree do you have and where have you trained?’ It’s about you in the room, in the moment. So whatever you have done beforehand is your deal and nobody else’s. All you have to do is sell.”
Roseby’s views, alongside Christopher Eccleston’s recent recounting of how despite being well cast at his Central School of Speech and Drama School final year show case, he didn’t get an agent for 3 years, may understandably cause possible students to think twice before applying to drama school.
While there is evidently truth in Roseby’s comments, schemes such as his NYT Rep Company which “offer free, practical, industry-based training over eight months to 12 talented members” are rare and competition is even more fierce than that experienced at drama school auditions.
Furthermore, the fact that NYT offers such a programme shows their acknowledgement of the importance of training and their ethos of “learning by doing it, not theorising” is that of the leading conservatoires. Additionally, in response to suggestions and changes in the industry, drama schools have made concerted efforts to tailor courses to better equip graduates for the realities of the profession. Sessions on how to form your own theatre company and advice on budgeting are already available in many schools.
If you aren’t one of the few who get onto schemes such as NYT, access to professional direction and advice can be hard to come by. Audition Doctor is one of the few places where both are given. However, Tilly still unfailingly repeats her belief to all her students that drama school training is essential.
Drama schools give you access to working actors, mentors, guidance and contacts. Audition Doctor’s success rate is high. However, the places that are gained as a result of the sessions are borne of a mutual commitment to both experimentation and graft. Although Roseby believes that one cannot learn how to act, of Audition Doctor’s students who do get into drama school, it is most frequently those who have worked the hardest.