Bodens College of Performing Arts is celebrating a landmark year. The Barnet-based college goes full-time in September and, for the first time, becomes a partner in The Stage Scholarships scheme.
Worth £11,790 The Stage/ Bodens College Scholarship covers tuition fees and examination costs for the college’s inaugural two-year performing arts course. Students will study for a BTec, level three extended, in per-forming arts plus a Trinity level four associate diploma in either musical theatre or acting. It is a foundation course, an alternative to going into sixth form.
From Bodens, students will go on to university or three-year vocational drama school courses. Part-time students at Bodens have gone on to RADA, Mountview, LAMDA and more. Some have even gone straight into the business, but Bodens does not recommend that path. The college is about preparing students for further learning, providing a stepping stone.
We give them a grounding, a realism of what the industry is about. We make sure they have options to suit them when they leave here
Bodens was founded by the late Tony Boden, an RSC actor, who was asked to give speech and drama lessons to a friend’s son. Word spread and more parents asked him to teach their children. Lessons moved to a church hall and Bodens came into being as a school in 1973. The school continued to grow, became a college and is now in a huge, former warehouse building. It has magnificent studios and a well-equipped, 80-seat studio theatre. Having such facilities had a lot to do with the decision to go full-time.
Tony Boden’s son, Adam, is now the manager at the school. “I’m still learning and working,” he says cheerily. “Even now I’m studying for an MA, at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, in applied theatre. Part of that is to support the community theatre elements of the BTec course here.
“We do quite a lot of work within the community. At the moment we’re doing an inter-generational project at a local community centre. We are opening up contacts for our full-time college students. We have agreements in place with local primary schools and community centres where we have been with workshops.
“Students will take their theory in education to these places and put it into practice. So they will have experience working practically, rather than just talking about it. They will be managing their own projects. Our course is two years of working and learning as a performer and every aspect of that. At the same time, we keep as many doors open for them as we can when they finish.”
Adam Boden uses the phrase “keeping doors open” quite often. He knows that youngsters can change their minds about which direction to take, in the performing arts, and he is prepared for that. He stresses the depth and practicality of the course.
“We give them a grounding, a realism of what the industry is about,” he says. “We will only take 20 students each year and we know them individually. We make sure they have options to suit them when they leave here.
“I just know the value of creativity and initiative. When you see the students making decisions in their work it’s really fulfilling for us. And there is the joy in getting them to realise that they can do something they didn’t think they could do. The most important experience they get here is through creativity and initiative. If they get that, whatever their level of intelligence or talent, they will make a success of whatever it is they do in life.”
Bodens College of Performing Arts Barnet base boasts quick links into central London, and a list of recommended accommodation addresses is available.
So this is an exciting year for Bodens College and it could be the same for you. The decision is yours. Bodens will have stand 936 at the Stage-sponsored event Perform, March 8-10 at London’s Olympia, so go along and ask your questions.