Based in Reading and in its 10th year, Read College has a 100% success rate for its foundation course pupils gaining places at drama schools. Paul Vale reports
Read College in Reading was established in 2008 by Jamie and Helen Read with the aim of preparing young people to audition for further training and help them to form links with industry professionals. Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, the independent college continues to provide excellent foundation training for students wishing to pursue a career in the performing arts. Once again, Read is proud to be part of The Stage Scholarships scheme, offering two applicants the chance to win a 50% scholarship, one for the acting course and one for the musical theatre course – awards valued at a total of £7,575.
Last year, Masego Makgobe, 18, from Redbridge in London, was the lucky winner, having been chosen to attend the musical theatre one-year foundation course at Read College.
Masego recalls the day that she heard she’d won: “When I got the call about the scholarship I didn’t believe it at first, it took a while for it to hit me. I saw the talent that was there on the audition day, I felt so grateful to be picked, that they had seen potential in me. I would never have been able to do the course without a scholarship.”
The college, based in Reading’s St Bart’s Theatre, has every reason to celebrate this year, as in 2017 the acting foundation course achieved a 100% success rate for graduates gaining places at top drama schools in the UK. The musical theatre foundation course also has an unbroken record of a 100% success rate, marking the college as a leading provider of performing arts foundation training.
Co-founder and director of theatre Jamie Read offers a little insight into what the judges are looking for on audition day. “Our scholarship applicants this year will need to show us the potential in their practical skills but, more importantly, we also want to see that they have a great outlook and the right approach to their training,” he says. “We only take 20 auditionees at each audition round (spread across our musical theatre and acting foundation courses) and we like to work with candidates to give them corrections and redirection, so that we can see how they learn and respond.”
If you are applying for the one-year musical theatre course, you will be asked to act, sing a solo number and perform dance – jazz and ballet – in the first round. The auditioning panel will be looking for strength in at least two of these areas and the potential for training in the third. If you are recalled to the afternoon, you will perform a second solo song and a monologue.
It is a similar set-up for those applying for the one-year acting course, where you begin the day performing a monologue of your choice, either contemporary or classical. You will then take part in a workshop session with Seamus Allen, the head of acting, to explore how you work with other people and how quickly you pick up instructions. If you are recalled to the afternoon, you will then be asked to perform a second, contrasting monologue.
Read continues: “If they are recalled through to the end of the day, then they also have a one-to-one interview with the panel, where we can really get to know them and hear about their experiences prior to their audition day, and this is where we can see if they have the focus and determination necessary for such an intensive year of training.”
Intensive is perhaps the key word here. As Masego says about her place on the musical theatre course: “I am enjoying my time at the school so much, I have seen myself improve already in only two months. I want to say thank you to Read and The Stage for believing in me.”
Courses: One-year foundation course in acting or one-year foundation course in musical theatre
Educational level: Post-school
Number of scholarships offered: There are two 50% scholarships available. One for the acting course and one for the musical theatre course. The scholarships are not available for the sixth-form courses.
Value of scholarships: £7,575
What costs are covered? 50% of the fees
Where is the school? St Bart’s Theatre, St Bartholomew’s Road, Reading RG1 3QA. About 30mins from London by train and five mins from the M4 (Junction 10)
Likely audition date: May. Open to those who have been awarded a place at Read College, so applicants must attend a regular audition day first. Successful applicants will then be recalled.
How do I apply? At readcollege.org, or to request an application form call 0118 966 6275