Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Firm foundations at READ College

READ College’s 2015 showcase. Photo: mark dawson

Now in its 10th year, READ College offers acting and musical theatre courses for sixth formers and over-18s, providing flexible, focused training with proven results

Set your heart on a career in the performing arts but don’t feel ready for drama school yet? Help is at hand. Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018, READ College is the UK’s leading provider of foundation courses for the performing arts – courses that give you time to think and the tools you need to help you choose the right drama school for you.

Based in a restored Victorian church a short walk from Reading town centre, READ College offers two essential courses for would-be performers in acting and musical theatre. Its two-year, vocational sixth-form courses (for 15-18-year-olds) and one-year foundation courses (for those older than 18) are designed, says the college’s co-founder and voice faculty director Jamie Read, “to provide complete all-round preparation for the next level of study.”

That preparation involves 27 hours of teaching each week in class sizes of no more than 15 students – which means, says Read, “lots of one-on-one teaching”.

The flexible approach to lessons means courses “develop and evolve around students, not the curriculum”, says Read.

With substantial experience as an actor-choreographer in the West End, regional theatre and television, and more than 20 years in teaching, Read is well placed to appreciate the reality of what READ College students face when they graduate.

“The standard required to get into drama schools these days is what my generation hoped to graduate with 25 years ago. It’s increased exponentially for actors, singers and dancers who are expected to be proficient in an ever-changing variety of styles.”

That perception drives the college’s approach to teaching. So acting students can expect a thorough grounding in traditional speech and voice training with performance approaches ranging from Stanislavski and Brecht to improvisation and dance.

Photo: Mark Dawson

Musical theatre students receive equally broad tuition. There are classes in every dance form they’re likely to encounter on stage, private singing lessons and ancillary classes in a diverse range of subjects from music theory to arts administration.

The college also offers an extensive student support programme that provides access to osteopaths, massage therapists and vocal health specialists when needed, and to counselling services and a chaplain.

For Read, it adds up to an unparalleled offering with a clear and constructive goal in mind. “Our focus on vocational training aims to give students the practical skills they need to succeed,” he says. “But we recognise that success isn’t just about talent. So we teach them how to be entrepreneurs who can help themselves by forming their own companies, how to approach fundraising and manage budgets, and how to best make their way through three years of studies if that’s the next step they choose.”

There’s an invaluable emphasis, too, on acquiring good audition technique, explored in weekly classes on both the one and two-year courses.

“Auditioning is something every performer has to do and it can be hard on nerves and confidence. We focus on helping students be as well prepared as they can be for auditions.”

Attracting students from throughout the UK and internationally, READ College offers practical support with fees – 40% of current student have been helped by its generous bursary scheme.

Graduates of the one-year courses will take with them an ATCL Level 4 diploma awarded by Trinity College London, equivalent to first-year degree studies. Two-year course graduates receive an OCR Level 3 accredited diploma worth three A levels.

More than that, they leave equipped, prepared and confident to take the next step into an exciting but challenging career. Happily, the college reports a 96% success rate in graduates progressing to top-flight musical theatre, dance and drama schools. All of which makes READ College a great choice for your stepping stone to success.


We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.