Drama School – The difference between academic and vocational training

James Bowden is the founder of The Dorset School of Acting – nationally recognised and Dorset’s first and only full time independent drama school.
After graduating from Rose Bruford in 1994 James has been fortunate enough to have worked regularly as an actor in theatre and TV.
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Photo Credit: adapted from Steven Pisano via cc

The dramatic leap to Drama School

You’ve been to youth theatre, you’ve done your A levels or BTEC National now all that’s left on your route into a career as a professional Acting or Musical Theatre performer is Drama School.
That’s pretty straight forward isn’t it?
Well let’s suppose you get in……surely the hard work is done?
Don’t be too sure, the gulf between academic training and vocational training is enormous. There are only a few places that prepare you for the true rigours of Drama School training and even so a lot of the time Drama Schools have to re train you, breaking down your old habits and rebuilding your understanding of how to act.
This can be a very bitter pill to swallow especially if you were the big cheese in your school/ youth theatre.
There are many students who drop out because they just can’t believe that everything they have been taught to date in a lot of cases is not suitable for Drama School.
They find it hard to believe because the bad habits that they have stuck to have been lauded by their peers/ teachers/ youth theatre directors and they have been celebrated for the tricksy non truthful performances.

So what should you do?

First of all be prepared to forget everything you hold dear!
Be accepting of the differing ideas offered to you at Drama School and go with it!
Because the gulf between A levels/ BTEC is so large you may need training to get you ready. One way to do this would be to find a foundation course that offers you a training akin to the first year of a BA Acting course at Drama School and prepares you fully for the next level.
Also you could join a youth theatre that is attached to a Drama School to get a realistic preparation.
The Dorset School of Acting’s 1 year Foundation Course in Acting & Musical Theatre is based on the first year of a BA Acting and prepares it’s students for all the aspects of auditioning for accredited Drama Schools. Check out the course at www.dorsetschoolofacting.co.uk

About DSA

The Dorset School of Acting is nationally recognised and Dorset’s first and only full time independent drama school.
The DSA offers a vocational course preparing students for further training at drama school or a professional career in acting depending on ability.
With advisors from the most prestigious drama schools in the country, the school provides a systematical approach to the art and craft of the actor whether in classic and contemporary acting or musical theatre.
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