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Former Poor School staff set up new actor training centre

Course run by the School in January 2019. Photo: Sophie Wilson
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Former staff members of the Poor School are opening a new institution to “continue the ethos of affordable acting training”.

The Poor School, in London’s King’s Cross, was founded by actor and director Paul Caister in 1986 as a lower-cost alternative to accredited drama schools. It announced its closure in 2016 and shut its doors in July last year.

The Poor School in London to close after 32 years

Now two long-serving members of staff at the school, Trudi Rees and Marcelle Davies, have set up a new training institution called the School, which will have a similar offer to the Poor School and is being backed by Joanna Lumley as patron.

The School will be based at Harecourt United Reformed Church in London and will open in October this year.

It will offer a two-year “conservatoire-level acting training” course, covering classical and contemporary theatre, as well as musical theatre.

The course will take place over weekday evenings and weekends, to enable participants to work while they train.

It will cost £2,500 per term, with three terms a year. Audition fees are £25.

The programme will be entirely practical and will not include academic elements. It will not result in a formal qualification, which is similar to how the Poor School was run.

Rees said: “I am passionate about the ethos of a training that is accessible to anyone.

“The cross-section of ages and backgrounds is integral to what we do. Theatre should reflect the world we live in – if audiences see only one set or one class of people then itʼs just not true.”

Lumley said: “The School’s potential contribution to the acting profession is of incalculable importance.

“People from all walks of life, whose circumstances have denied them access to other drama schools, have every possible chance of flourishing in this social melting pot, particularly those from working-class backgrounds.

“The School embraces all-comers and that is its great strength. I am delighted to be a patron of this unique establishment.”

Other staff members at the School will include former voice tutor at the Poor School Christian Fellner, movement tutor Jen Malarkey, who is also artistic director of theatre company Encounter, acting and voice tutor Clare Davidson and fight director Alison de Burgh.

Alongside its two-year training programme, the School will also run short courses throughout the year.

Can only rich kids afford drama tuition today?

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