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Cosson’s: How this industry-focused drama school is making its mark with affordable training

Left to right: Cosson's head of singing Richard Kent, principal Sophie Cosson and head of dance Mark Iles. Photo: Shoot Me Club

Founded in 2016, Cosson’s School of Performing Arts has already made a name for itself, combining top-quality training with easy access to London and tuition fees that are affordable, manageable and flexible.

“Cosson’s is both affordable and industry-focused,” says founder Sophie Cosson. “We provide a personable and challenging environment where students are taught by working professionals to discover and explore a range of genres and styles, giving them more choice as performers.”

Cosson felt the financial burden of training at many schools was beyond the reach of the majority of working households, and so Cosson’s was started as a fresh alternative, providing quality performing arts training at fair prices for those aged 18 plus. Fees are just £6,000 per year and include private singing lessons, showcases and public performances.

“When choosing a school, students are often stifled not just by the fees, but by high rental costs. Many are left with the tough decision to pursue other careers, or somehow afford the costs through family, sponsorships and loans. We want to help those families,” she explains.

Payment plans are also on offer – students can choose to pay yearly, termly of even monthly, an option not offered by many drama schools. Cosson also explains this can be adjusted each year to suit the student’s needs.

“Affordability is a priority,” says Cosson. “Fees have to be manageable for working families where some cannot afford large lump sums up front every year, and so our plans look to address this. It’s important to us that we make our exceptional training accessible to everyone.”

What makes Cosson’s special, though, is that it can combine that affordability with all the opportunities London offers, thanks to its superb location.

Located in Chatham, Kent, the school boasts excellent links to the capital. Trains to King’s Cross are frequent, and the journey takes just 39 minutes. Students at Cosson’s enjoy the same access to London’s vibrant theatre scene as those at the city’s drama schools but pay far lower prices.

“Rent in Medway can be half the cost of some student accommodation in London. It really makes a difference to students who know they can afford to live in an area that provides such good training,” says Cosson. “All these costs add up.”

The school itself is situated in the picturesque Brook Theatre, a working playhouse that used to be Chatham’s town hall.

The building offers a range of studios that vary in size, meaning there’s always somewhere suitable to rehearse, to stage a scene, or to shoot a short film. It also has two theatres: the main auditorium, seating 400, and the smaller, more intimate studio theatre, which seats 60.

“The grounds are lovely, too,” adds Cosson. “There’s a park at the back of the theatre, so when the weather is good there’s plenty of space for the students to relax. At the front, there’s the River Medway and the town centre is minutes away. The amenities are excellent.”

Cosson’s currently offers two courses: a three-year musical theatre diploma and a one-year advanced diploma. The three-year course covers a variety of performance styles and offers plenty of performance opportunities. It is, says Cosson, “the full drama school experience”.

The one-year course, she continues, “acts as a top-up for those who have previously trained or worked professionally, and would like to hone and strengthen their skills before they embark into the industry”.

The courses are taught by a staff of working professionals, all of whom have trained and work regularly in the industry. Cosson herself is head of acting. She has been a professional actor for 10 years, taking major roles on both stage and screen, from West End plays to television dramas including Call the Midwife, Doctor Who and Downton Abbey.

Alongside her is head of singing Richard Kent, who has appeared in musicals such as Wicked, Les Miserables, The Phantom of the Opera and Monty Python’s Spamalot; head of dance Mark Iles, who has appeared in Elf, Oliver!, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Charlie and The Chocolate Factory; and head of TV Vicky Alcock, who has appeared in Bad Girls, Casualty, EastEnders, People Just Do Nothing and much more in over 25 years of onscreen experience.

Days kick off with a warm-up for the entire college that varies between cardio fitness and meditation, before students split up into their year groups for back-to-back classes for the rest of the day, be they clowning, ballet, singing, ensemble work, TV acting or anything else.

It’s a formula that, despite the performing arts school’s short life, is already providing results.

“We have had one set of graduates so far and all of them have gone on to work,” says Cosson. “They have been in feature films, as lead vocalists on cruise ships, in pantomimes and London fringe theatres.”

Cosson’s School of Performing Arts is accepting applications now and auditioning late into the summer for September 2019. Applications can be made at cossons.org/apply. For more information, prospective students can email info@cossons.org

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