I’ve been writing for Fourthwall for a while now, and this week I have begun training at drama school. I hope this is going to be able to give readers a bit of an insight into what training is really like these days. In an industry ‘saturated with actors and no where near enough jobs’, or so they say, there are stories, myths and legends floating around all over the place when it comes to drama schools and actor training. As I fumble along, finding my way, I hope to be able to share some of the exciting things I discover.
And I guess that’s a good place to start – being excited. I’ve been excited about starting drama school for years. Years and years. I suppose I have my parents to blame and/or thank. When I was seven and with all the best intentions they enrolled me at a local Stagecoach Saturday school in order to bring me out of my shell… I suppose they didn’t really anticipate that all these years later I’d be committing to a career in theatre.
I’m lucky; I have wonderful parents who have always been incredibly supportive of me. Through school, exams, countless amateur productions, rehearsals, tears, expensive outings into the West End, melodrama, and all the rest of it, my parents have always been there, keeping an eye, making sure I’m eating and sleeping and remembering to do my homework. For me, that’s been really important. But parents can struggle, I think, with the idea of their kids going off to be actors or creatives or what have you. It’s a business with a reputation for being notoriously difficult and lacking in security. And of course there is, in my limited experience, a hell of a lot of truth in that. But as I’m sure any young actor just starting out will have said at some point, I feel like I just have to give it a go. I don’t want to look back, one day, and regret not having tried.
So here I am, ready to start! This year I’m starting the Foundation Year in acting at East 15 Acting School (left), and I’ve been here for a week. The East 15 Foundation is a course with a great reputation, from what I hear, and we work with the same teachers and lecturers that work on the three-year BA in Acting. It is the longest full-time foundation course available at a British drama school, running for nine months, five days a week, nine in the morning until six in the evening. And East 15 is a beautiful, well-established school with a whole host of inspiring alumni and staff past and present.
As I say, I’ve been here all of a week. I moved in to my rented house the Saturday before Induction Week (aka Fresher’s Week) started, and jumped straight into the fresher’s lifestyle. By that I mean staying up too late, meeting new people every thirty seconds, forgetting people’s names, getting lost every now and then, having perhaps one too many glasses of wine and also trying to balance making a good first impression on the lecturers. But, only a week on and I’ve already made some wonderful new friends! That is the joy of fresher’s. Its exhausting, stressful and scary, but so very worth it if you really seize every chance to say hello to a new face and aren’t afraid to have the same small-talk conversations all week!
If I’m honest, it has been an overwhelming amount of change to face all at the same time. Due to my summer job I couldn’t move down any earlier, and I do wish I had been able to get here a little more in advance just to acclimatise. But not only that; I still haven’t quite got my head around the fact that I am actually about to start training after years of working towards it and waiting for it to happen! It is all quite daunting.
We have a full timetable of classes and rehearsals this term. Three days a week are dedicated to classes in various different areas – from dance classes to audition technique sessions to contextual study. The other two days are dedicated to rehearsals for our first performance project, which will be for an audience made up of other students from the school at the end of this term.
While I can’t wait to start, I’ve been feeling jittery all day! I even rang a friend and complained down the phone; ‘What if I can’t even remember how?’ A suitably vague complaint for a suitably vague feeling. But I think – and hope – it’s a natural thing to feel. Nerves are one of those things that I’ve always loved and hated in equal measure. So I’m just going to grab this opportunity by the scruff of the neck and give it all I’ve got.