Getting Into Drama School In The UK

Getting into drama school in the UK

Drama school offers full-time training into a performance career but it’s not for the faint-hearted. The audition process alone can be long, expensive and only a lucky few succeed in getting into drama school.

Drama Schools In The UK

If you’re considering actor training in the UK, accredited drama schools UK may help identify your ideal destinations. However, be aware that the better the reputation of the institution, the lower your chances of acceptance.

Furthermore, the training just gets you prepared for the acting industry. You probably have years of low pay, insecure income streams and high levels of rejection ahead as you build a career.

For some people the need to live a creative and fulfilling life compensates for the lack of security. In addition, involvement in the acting industry can open many other creative avenues.

How Do You Get Into Acting School?

It’s best to visit as many drama schools on open days as you can, to assess if you’d be happy there. Then, make your application before the deadline.

Drama schools audition and meet everyone at least once. Popular drama schools may ask you to return three or four times as they whittle down the applicant numbers in each round.

What Qualifications Do You Need For Drama School?

It’s rare for drama schools to demand specific qualifications. Instead, the selection processes will focus on an individual’s talent and commitment.

You might find representation with an acting agency, professional credits or even experience on the set of a micro-budget film helps.

But at the end of the day, it’s your talent in the audition room which must stand out.

Paying For Drama School Auditions

Unlike academic courses, paying for entry assessment is normal. By the time you have auditioned for five or six drama schools, your audition fees alone will have set you back many hundreds of pounds.

Add to that the cost of travel, especially if you are lucky enough to get a callback or two, and all your savings may well disappear even before you get a place.

How Do You Prepare For Drama School Auditions?

You’ll be given clear instructions about the number and types of monologues they want you to deliver. Read these instructions carefully and follow them.

If you’re stuck for a good monologue, check out The Mono Box video library.

Many applicants have an acting coach for their monologue, but you’ll also be given direction in the casting room. They want to see how natural you can be, and your ability to live in the moment.

Your group work and improvisation skills also count in the selection process.

If you don’t have experience of this, join a Youth Theatre now. Even better, get involved with the National Youth Theatre.

Musical theatre applicants will be given instructions about the dances and songs to prepare. But you’ll also be tested in the audition room to see how you cope with new routines and instruction.

You’ll need to be appropriately dressed for an audition so you are comfortable and able to act and dance well.

Monologues For Drama School Auditions

If you have been given a list of monologues to choose from, choose your monologue from that list. Doing something else suggests you can’t follow simple instructions or are a pain to work with, whatever your explanation.

Choose a monologue that fits your casting type. Think carefully about what role a casting director would consider you for.

You need to know your monologues inside and out. Understand what the plot is, where the monologue comes in the play, who the character is, and who they are speaking to. What emotions exist in the piece?

But your flexibility and skill in taking direction are also under the microscope. So however well you deliver your monologue in the audition room, listen carefully to the changes the interview panel now wants to see.

What Are The Chances Of Getting Into Drama School?

Competition for the most prestigious drama courses far exceeds anything faced by candidates for academic places at the Universities of Oxford or Cambridge. And all of it is intense.

The odds of getting into a good drama school are low, and any course which has a high acceptance rate should make you pause for thought. You don’t want to spend years and thousands of pounds training if it doesn’t improve your chances of getting relevant work.

When Do You Hear The Results?

Many drama schools will indicate a timescale for results. But in reality, some applicants will hear within hours, while others wait for weeks before getting their result. Even applicants to the same course can be told at different times.

How Old Do You Have To Be To Go To Drama School?

Courses which lead to a bachelor’s degree usually set 18 as the minimum age for new entrants. If you’re younger than this, you could consider full-time training at an arts school or a drama course at a local college.

There’s rarely an official maximum age limit for drama school entrants. Many students go to drama school after university. It’s common to find people at drama schools who are changing careers after a decade or two.

The average age of getting into drama school depends on the institution and courses offered, as a different focus demands different skills and abilities.

A large number of applications to drama school are from young people around the age of 18. Some do get accepted. But many benefit from two or three years in the adult world and come back to audition as better and more experienced actors.

How Long Do You Have To Go To School For Acting?

Foundation courses run for two or three terms, but do not lead to accreditation. They are often used as a springboard (albeit an expensive one) to gain entry on a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor degrees run for three years full-time, whilst post-graduate acting courses are a year full-time.

Many drama schools also run short courses. You won’t get accreditation but may learn some valuable skills.

If casting directors look at someone’s training, they are primarily interested in high level, high quality courses between one and three years.

Can I Get A Student Loan For Drama School?

Once you have secured a place, you face a funding issue.

If you received an offer of a place on a bachelor’s degree in acting, and you haven’t already been to university, you can get a student loan for the tuition fee. Depending on your household income, you may also be eligible to receive a student loan for maintenance costs.

But many institutions offer places on their Foundation degree course or deliver courses not qualifying for the student loan criteria.

If you move to London, the cost of rent is crippling. As hard as it is to win a place at drama school, obtaining a scholarship or financial support will be even tougher.

But don’t think “Well, I’m going to drama school near me” unless that happens to offer high-quality training and industry contacts to improve your chances of a successful career. Otherwise, you will spend years training and thousands of pounds in fees and living costs with little benefit in the long term.

Working During Drama School

Don’t be fooled into thinking a part-time job will provide the answer to your financial problems.

Many institutions specifically bar students from any work which interrupts their training. Even acting jobs for film and TV are prohibited, with some actors choosing to drop out of training rather than turn down a potentially breakthrough role.

A good musical theatre or acting course can have students on site from breakfast until the evening.

Once you graduate, fame and riches are a long way off, should they ever arrive. Analysis of graduate income shows that Performing Arts degrees consistently deliver the worst income outcomes five years later.

Reasons To Go To Drama School

So, why bother applying for drama school? We discuss some of the many benefits of drama school in our article about how to get into acting without drama school.