Acting degree

(17 Posts)
finn1020 Wed 09-Jan-19 07:09:28

DD18 has an audition shortly for an acting degree starting in Feb. I have no experience or knowledge of performing arts as a possible career. Has anyone studied, or have kids who have studied, a Bachelor of Acting/ Theatre/ Performance, etc? She will be at an Australian institution but if she’s accepted her plans are to do a student exchange to a UK university in her second year.

If anyone has had experience with one of these degrees - Did you find the degree worthwhile? Did you or most of your fellow classmates find work in the performing arts area or, are you now in an unrelated field? Did you have any exchange or international students in your course?

I’d also be interested to know how competitive Bachelors of Acting etc are in the UK as there seem to be a HUGE number of universities (compared to Australia) offering variations of these courses.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 09-Jan-19 09:14:45

My DDs both have friends who went to Guildhall, Rada, St Martins and others and few have ever had any paid work. Two studied at a prestigious performing arts school in the USA and they haven’t had much work either. It’s a nightmare! Constant rejection and even alumni of prestigious colleges struggle regarding work. However it’s what some people must do but you need to recognise that it’s tough!

corythatwas Thu 10-Jan-19 19:28:45

What Bubbles said. Dd is currently studying drama and has a lot of friends doing the same. You do it if you are seriously driven, you accept that it is a precarious route and that you will almost certainly have to do other work on the side. You also accept that you will have to put constant effort into finding your own work: networking, maybe starting your own company, keeping in touch with what is going on, maintaining your profile.

British institutions are hugely competitive, even for getting in. Many tend to prefer mature students. "It's what some people must do" sums it up very well.

Fredathetortoise Thu 10-Jan-19 19:31:00

It's a numbers game, hundreds of students graduate from acting courses at drama schools and universities every year, there isn't enough work for that many actors

GrapesAndCheese Thu 10-Jan-19 19:43:02

I attended a prestigious drama school here in London. I work full tim in performing arts (in a niche area so not stage/screen) but I'd say only 20% of my graduating year still work as actors and only 1 guy (very tall and handsome but a terrible actor) has had any 'success'.

Despite training myself it's not something I'd encourage my DS to do tbh. The training is a lot of fun and you leave thinking you'll be the one person who makes it but you really are a drop in the ocean of other wannabes. And then the struggle to pay rent whilst working a crap job and then go to a few auditions which you probably won't get.. you've got to have very thick skin to keep it up and then a lot of luck (or good genes/famous relatives) to make it. I was lucky that I found my niche that I love and have found success in but I can't say the same for my peers.

Sorry I can't be more positive but that's the truth!

GrapesAndCheese Thu 10-Jan-19 19:45:30

And sorry to say but, unless the U.K. place she'll be attending is one of the known drama schools - LAMDA, RADA, CSSD, Arts Ed, Italia Conti etc), then doing a year and the university of Hull (or wherever) won't impress many casting directors or get her very far with agents.

Magpiefeather Thu 10-Jan-19 19:48:53

Agree with the above.

I went to one of the top UK drama schools, studying Musical Theatre (graduated 10 years ago) and have many friends who have studied theatre, acting, musical theatre etc in both drama schools and universities.

If she is truly driven and determined she will want to do the course however much she is told it will be hard to find work after graduating. I was certainly told many times and wouldn’t be dissuaded. I’m glad I wasn’t!!

Out of all my friends, a lot have had a tough time, it’s true, but most have worked within theatre / film and TV. Those that have done the best have either got a lucky break early on and then springboarded from one job to another. Or they have created their own work.

Most of my friends who have left the acting profession are working in related fields. People who love acting that much often can’t give up the creativity but it’s just the lifestyle that doesn’t fit.

I have sidestepped into another related career, having worked a bit and created a lot of my own work (which was lucrative too! Just not the West End roles I always dreamed of!). I have a child now and my priorities have shifted.

My advice would be to anyone just embarking upon this adventure....
- chase your big crazy dreams but prepare yourself for what you will do if they don’t come to fruition
- find flexible jobs to do that you ENJOY alongside looking for acting work. A lot of my friends teach drama which works well, some run their own businesses
- be a sponge and learn absolutely everything you can whilst training
- don’t define your self worth by whether you’re working or not!
- create your own work
- take your training seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously!

Very long sorry!

Oh, re exchange students, we had quite a few who came to do the last year of their degree from America. I’m not sure how it worked with fees etc but in terms of how they fitted in as students they were just like the rest of us!

Lastly your DD will, I’m sure, make friends for life doing this. She will grow as a person and she will have a huge range of transferable skills.
I understand why parents worry when their children choose a career like this but honestly, it’s not that awful in terms of prospects.

If it helps at all to know how it turned out for me.....
Ten years later, I’ve had some incredible experiences, made wonderful friends, grown a lot as a person, done some great “side” jobs which I’ve enjoyed a lot. I am not well off but I have a lovely husband and daughter, about to buy a house soon. And no regrets.


Magpiefeather Thu 10-Jan-19 19:51:21

Ps why does she want to do her second year in the UK? Is this the norm at the Australian institution you mention?

Magpiefeather Thu 10-Jan-19 19:53:39

You’re right of course Grapesandcheese, but would you have chosen not to do your course if you’d have known what it would be like afterwards?

BubblesBuddy Fri 11-Jan-19 10:42:39

I assume lots of universities abroad offer exchanges with universities here. I think London is a big draw for many, for obvious reasons. However an Aussie accent might not help with work. A South African girl we know managed a few adverts because she’s very beautiful. No spoken parts though. It’s very tough.

AlexanderHamilton Fri 11-Jan-19 10:53:24

There is definatley a two tier system here in the UK with regards to Acting degrees (my husband is a lecturer in this field and my daughter is studying Musical Theatre.

Mostly (with a couple of exceptions such as Chichester) the universities that offer these degrees are essentially offering academic Theatre Studies/Drama/Acting degrees with varying percentages of practical content. I myself did a joint honours at such an institution many years ago. Graduates generally go on to work in "the arts" such as teaching, arts admin, theatre in education, marketing that sort of thing.

Drama schools on the other hand offer proferssional training to become a performer and simply use the degree qualification as a means for their students to access Student Finance. They wil have either temaed up with a university who will accredit their degree or they run the degree on bahalf of the university (the distinction is important with regards to the anmount of tuition fee loan you can access)

With a few rare exceptions to stand any chance of getting work as a performer you need to be studying somewhere that offers 30 plus contact hours (Equity and Spotlight will not accept graduates with less) and who hold Agent Showcases. A starting point is to look at institutions who are members of CDMT or FDS.

finn1020 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:57:00

Thanks so much everyone for your responses, with both the positive and not so positive experiences. I’m happy for her to do it as at a personal level she loves it and it’s the only thing she’s wanted to do, so if she wants to put in the hard yards into this profession without the guarantee of work like (say), an accounting/law/nursing degree can give, I figure go for it, now’s the time when there’s no kids or mortgage to hold her back.

She’s also outgrown the small town she lives in, and really needs to explore further afield and “find her people” as her friendship group is very limited (tiny) at home, she’s also been working steadily in an entry level job for some time that bores her (although she’s a good, reliable employee who works hard) so time to try something new with meaning.

She wants to go to the UK/London on an exchange as she spent a month there last year and loved it so much she wants to go back. London is nothing like Australian cities (maybe a TINY bit like Melbourne) and she’s dying to see more of it and explore the UK. All Australian unis offer student exchange opportunities, for her course it’s recommended for their second year, but I don’t know how competitive it is from the Australian end. The partner unis in the UK include Roehampton, Plymouth, Sunderland, Napier, Lancashire, Leeds Beckett, others, with varied rankings of fair/limited/restricted chance of placement.

Anyway her audition is actually early next week so crossing my fingers she gets through ...

OP’s posts: |
finn1020 Fri 11-Jan-19 10:59:12

Thanks AlexanderHamilton re the contact/prac hours. That’s definitely worth her looking into too.

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Sat 12-Jan-19 14:28:11

None of those you mention are particularly highly rated for drama, and most a long way from London! What does she hope to get out of an exchange?

AlexanderHamilton Sat 12-Jan-19 15:22:35

Back when I was at 6th form Roehampton was recommended for Theatre Studies but it was academic not professional training.

Oliversmumsarmy Sat 12-Jan-19 15:46:43

A friend who graduated 20+ years ago from a top acting school says she is the only one who dropped out.

Whilst only 1 guy from her course made it to being a household name most work in the industry in smaller theatre roles or short films etc
They are able to put food on the table they have a family and a mortgage but you won’t have heard of them.

I know another woman who I have seen pop up on adverts every now and then and she does seem to go from one minor play to another. Again she has children and owns her own home.

I don’t think the colleges you have mentioned are really acting schools but are more academic universities and being out of London will restrict any opportunities.

From a friends dd who is pursuing this career, everyone knows everyone.

She has worked with a group of strangers who when chatting, she realises they were at a certain school with another of her friends and another of them she knows their brother etc it is a very close community.

Magpiefeather Mon 14-Jan-19 14:36:20

Just a thought... Leeds Beckett will be nothing like London! Living in Leeds has its up sides but it is not at all like London really!! And not all that close or cheap to get to. If it’s London that your DD fell in love with I would go to one of the closer to London unis (make sure you look at transport links. If your DD wants to go and see a west end show then get the train back to where her uni is, what time does the last train go etc. Most west end shows will be done by 10.30)

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