The Stage recently reported on the success of the NYT’s rep season. This new form of training actors is the brainchild of the NYT director, Paul Roseby, who was also responsible for controversial remarks earlier in the year questioning the benefits of three year drama school training. The program trained and rehearsed 15 actors intensively since spring and then brought their three plays into the West End programmed alongside STOMP at The Ambassadors Theatre.

Roseby’s concerns with drama school training wasn’t the quality of the teaching but the consequences of beginning with a £27,000 student debt in an industry synonymous with instability.

Roseby’s pioneering new form of training is evidence of the importance he places on training actors properly for the profession they want to enter. Roseby said that “All fifteen [of the NYT rep company] are now either signed with agents, including Markham and Froggatt, Troika and Independent and United Agents, or they are in discussions with them.” It’s clear only after some form of rigorous training that students feel prepared to perform a showcase. Drama school showcases are still currently the main viable opportunity for getting signed by an agent.

Last September, The Stage hosted a discussion on how the nature of casting and by extension, the wider industry, had changed enormously over the last 20 years. Henry Bird reported: “With reality TV shows turning untrained amateurs into West End stars, and people getting cast on the street for spots in TV adverts, an outsider could be forgiven for thinking that breaking into acting has become easier. Of course, the acting industry is actually more competitive than ever. It seems that in acting, as is so often the case, it ain’t what you know, it’s who you know. Or rather, which casting directors your agent knows.”

John Barr got his first big role, in Jesus Christ Superstar, in 1981 through an open audition that he saw advertised in The Stage. That was just how it was done then, he says. “We all did those open calls for years. I remember when Cats was being cast, walking by theatres and seeing all these dancers warming up. It’s not like that anymore. It’s done through casting directors now.”

Although casting directors now hold the most power in the industry, agents still play an important role as the link between actor and casting director. It is often a closed circle, however, which can be frustrating for those at the start of their careers.”

Although the financial debt incurred from drama school may cause applicants to think twice about applying, agents still highly prize the calibre of student that drama schools unfailingly produce.

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