Doing drama at uni/drama school

(46 Posts)
Bahamarama Sat 13-Feb-16 13:51:09

Dd wants to do acting and is thinking about maybe going to uni to study it. She is currently doing AS level drama and theatre studies but does not like the theory/ written side of things so much.

Is there any point looking at universities for this? Does anyone know of courses where its mostly performance based?

I think maybe drama school would be better but I don't think student finance is available for this and I can't afford the fees. Also she has not had any experience outside of school so drama schools might not take her anyway. Unfortunately we live in a small town in the north of England so there is not much opportunity locally to take things further so to get anywhere she will have to move away, hence the thoughts of uni.

Any ideas?

OP’s posts: |
circular Sat 13-Feb-16 14:06:02

I know nothing about Drama, but some of the Conservatoires have Drama degree courses which can be applied for in addition to the UCAS University application, and can hold offers for both
(DD did this for Music last year - courses far more practical, though she did opt for Uni in the end)

Royal Welsh, Guildhall and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland spring to mind.

Fairly sure all of the above have the normal student finance available.

titchy Sat 13-Feb-16 14:34:44

If her preferred course doesn't qualify for fees and maintenance loan there may be other options financially - try here:

Antaresisastar Sat 13-Feb-16 14:49:02

Some vocational drama courses can be applied for through UCAS and qualify for student loans. Have a look at GSA ( part of uni of Surrey), Central School
of Speech and Drama, LCM (uni of west London), I think Chichester might do one too.

cathyandclaire Sat 13-Feb-16 15:14:19

Yes the drama schools above are funded by student loans, I think LAMDA, RADA, LIPA, Manchester Met and Rose Bruford are too. They are all unbelievably competitive and audition based and it can take a few years of trying to get in ( I think Judi Dench took 4 years or something to get into Central.)
Friends tell us that it is more about talent and seeing a spark than having done endless leads in am. dram. although a commitment to performing arts is important too. Has your DD thought about auditioning for the National Youth Theatre?
DD looked at all the English and Drama uni courses and drama schools, in the end she decided to go the uni route, with maybe an acting post-grad ( she is at a uni with huge amounts of extra curricular drama and a history of turning out some successful performers) but I think drama school is a better practical grounding in acting and helping to get an agent.

Andfaraway Sat 13-Feb-16 17:35:39

A drama degree at a University is like any other humanities degree as far as I can see. She'd have to write essays just like all other humanities students.

Daughter of a friend of mine had her heart set on drama school. She stayed with me for one audition visit, so I went along to have a nosey. Hundreds of excited 18 year olds, none of whom struck me as the sort of outstanding talent needed for drama school. Mostly girls, and all paying for the privilege of auditioning.

Mug's game.

Far better for her to get some life experience. Volunteer for her nearest professional theatre, do amdram. She hasn't got a hope otherwise from what I've heard of my friend's DD's experiences.

Dunlurking Sat 13-Feb-16 18:04:52

There's a similar thread on notapushymum which might help


bojorojo Sat 13-Feb-16 18:41:41

My DDs have several friends who have done drama and none have done the university degree route. They have been to Guildhall, Central, RADA, LAMDA and two trained in New York. However, not one of them can get work. It is all about who you know and how well you network! Everyone who gets onto these courses has talent. All did extensive drama at school and one did a lot of work as a child actor. It is really, really tough!

serin Sat 13-Feb-16 20:11:10

Which small northern town are you in OP!


buckingfrolicks Sat 13-Feb-16 20:19:23

My DD is auditioning this year for drama schools. It's a nightmare - unbelievably stressful, extremely expensive (each one costs around £60 plus your travel), takes their mind off A levels (she's predicted 3As but I suspect won't get those, as her time is taken up in prepping for auditions and taking days off school to attend the auditions).

I would not wish it on my worst enemy. We tried and tried to persuade her to apply to Oxbridge to do English and try and get into acting via Footlights etc, but no - she is unmovable, determined, relentless in her desire to go to drama school and be an actor. She's done quite a bit of acting outside of school and has talent (biased mum!) but getting a place at drama school is harder than getting into Oxbridge.

I've also had a real wakeup call about the amount of work there is for female actors - because the answer to that is fuck all. I've become obsessed with counting the number of viable female parts on the TV and cinema, and I reckon there's about 1 role for a woman for 8 male parts. And yet 3 x more women apply to drama schools.

I would suggest that unless your DD is single-minded, then another route is better.

Andfaraway Sat 13-Feb-16 20:25:48

If you're 17 or 18, female, fresh out of secondary school, you have to have an extraordinary talent to get straight into the better (ie State-funded) conservatoires. Most people have no idea ...

BertrandRussell Sat 13-Feb-16 20:33:40

Pick a university with fantastic drama clubs. Warwick, Edinburgh, Cambridge...Do a degree in something you're interested in. And audition for everything. And act and act and act. Then you leave with a degree and loads of experience.

Andfaraway Sat 13-Feb-16 22:04:03

Warwick, Edinburgh, Cambridge.

But the OP's DD doesn't like writing essays. does not like the theory/ written side of things so much

The DD needs to go & work as a gofer in the theatre or film industry for less than NMW and see what it's really like. Volunteer and test out her skills and develop her talent.

IvySquirrel Sat 13-Feb-16 22:41:46

If she is determined to be an a actor, go to drama school. It is the best training plus you get the contacts you need. Most drama school courses in long standing and well respected institutions now have standard student funding and you still get a degree.

There is no point trying to persuade her to do something else; it may well be a mug's game in that most won't succeed but acting is like a drug, people just feel compelled to do it.

bojorojo Sun 14-Feb-16 20:42:59

If it makes you feel a bit better, bucking, my DD's talented friend who went to Cambridge tried and tried to get into Footlights. Never got in. It's a bit like a club that only admits it own "type". Huge numbers apply, so no different to auditioning for anything else! More about who you know it appears. She did get her English degree though.

DeoGratias Sun 14-Feb-16 21:34:02

bucking, well she sounds determined although I tell most people if they try to be an actor they tend to end up a waitress for life so may be best to keep it as a hobby.

Bahamarama Mon 15-Feb-16 16:11:07

Thank you everyone. Plenty to think about. School don't have much idea about the drama route tbh.

I don't want to crush her dreams but she is going to have to be realistic about what is involved and make her own decisions.

OP’s posts: |
Bahamarama Mon 15-Feb-16 16:16:14

Thank you all for the comments and advice. Plenty to consider.

OP’s posts: |
cathyandclaire Mon 15-Feb-16 16:42:47

Bojoro, from what I've heard from DD the Footlights is all comedy and very much about what you write, rather than pure performance ( although there is an annual panto which is more accessible for pure actors.) However the Cambridge acting scene is vast, with Shakespeare tours around Europe, the States and Japan, musicals, contemporary theatre, just loads. DD has been there since October and is currently preparing for her 7th production! One girl she met dropped out of RADA after three weeks to go to Cambridge (having initially turned down her offer).
Having said that, different paths suit different people and I have no little chance of persuading DD2 into the uni route, she has her heart set on drama school, no matter how nightmarish the path.

cressetmama Wed 24-Feb-16 20:08:42

My nephew, coming from an international education, auditioned for all the major drama schools and was turned down flat in the UK. However, he won a scholarship for a year in NY at film school and was the sought after lead actor there, with offers for big TV series he couldn't accept because he hadn't got US citizenship. Since then, he's spent a year in London -- without success -- and supported himself with help from his parents, as rock band crew. Then went back to the ME where he was nominated for a best actor award.

I chatted to the friend of a friend who runs an agency, and she reckoned he didn't look right. Not feral/emaciated enough to play the downtrodden runt, nor handsome enough for the matinee idol roles, but not androgynous to get modelling work. He's now back (at 27) having another go, but with a job in event management to pay the bills.

Sadly, an awful lot of success on the stage is based on looks rather than talent.

Foginthehills Wed 24-Feb-16 20:32:08

I think I'd challenge that: looks will get some people some places, but they won't last without talent. And for the jobbing actor, doing roles at theatres all over the country, talent and technique (training) and fitness and stamina are much more important than looks. If someone wants instant television stardom then maybe looks are significant, but that is not the experience of the many well-trained actors out there. It's significant that he was turned down by major drama schools, who are looking for raw and potential talent.

PirateSmile Wed 24-Feb-16 20:41:57

If she isn't hugely academic but still wants to study at university, this may be of interest

It is incredibly tough to break into the industry though, as my actors friends often cry into their drinks tell me.

FANTINE1 Thu 25-Feb-16 22:22:49

A little late coming to this, but just wanted to give you my DD's experiences.
As others have said, you have to be scarily talented to get in to any of the top UK drama schools at 18.They rarely accept you, because they consider you too young. My daughter applied last year, at the age of 17, and did reasonably well. Recalls at RADA and Central, but ultimately not accepted. She is, however, now on the Foundation One Year course at East 15. She loves the course and rates the teaching there very highly. The Foundationers are not treated as second class citizens. They get the same tuition etc as the students on the 3 Yr BA course. There are some very good teachers at East 15, and the course is funded under the loan system.
She is now in the process of re applying to various schools, including East 15.
No guarantees of course, but I am sure that she is in a better position than this time last year.
It is such a tough industry, but you just have to work hard and persevere.

Foginthehills Fri 26-Feb-16 07:30:41

PirateSmile the proem with liw tariff places such as Edge Hill (and I knew it before it was made a University knly a few years ago) is that the standard really is not very high. Tbe value added stuff of industry links etc just isn't there, si it's mediocre in all sorts of ways.

But because there are do many young people who feel a need to act (I don't think they actually know what that entails, but that's another topic) mediocre courses in performing arts can attract a lot more students than they should.

It would be far better for OP's DD to work in a job, and get a wide range of theatre experience - amdram, fringe, starting her own - than go to any old acting course at a University that's easy to get into. Then when she's a bit older, audition for some of the better conservatoires around the country (not just London). If she's not accepted after maybe two years of auditioning, then -- well, it's a great hobby!

PirateSmile Fri 26-Feb-16 11:18:06

I think it's accepted that a university course at somewhere like Edge Hill wouldn't be as prestigious as RADA. It barely requires any explanation, but thanks anyway hmm
Having said that places like Edge Hill do produce some students who go on to have careers. You may want to think about the old Manchester Poly which shock horror managed to produce practically an entire generation of actors and comedians back in the day.

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