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A couple of new courses

National Youth Theatre Rep Company Members Ruby Wild, Hannah Morrish and Lewis Griffith in As You Like It in September 2012. Photograph by Ambra Vernuccio
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Everywhere I go I am now hearing of new, imaginative approaches to training which offer an alternative to the standard – now very expensive – three years in drama school studying acting, musical theatre or technical theatre. Here, for example, are two that I’ve learned about in the last week.

First, National Youth Theatre of Great Britain is launching Epic Stages, a NYT practical course for under 18-25s designed to equip the best young performance and production talent with the skills and knowledge they need to enter the theatre industry.

Over six intensive weeks the full-time summer course for 100 people will offer creative and professional development, with skills-based sessions from acting technique to interview technique and backstage expertise to budgeting skills. There’s a performance strand and a production strand and NYT is promising that both routes will cover all elements of the industry with an emphasis on preparing students to make and stage their own professional work.

The last two weeks is based at The Backstage Centre, the National Skills Academy for Creative & Culture’s new production venue in Purfleet where students will stage and perform a high production-value show to an invited industry audience.

Applications for acting auditions and technical interviews are open until March 15 2013. The course fee is £2,000, which sounds steep but is actually less per week than most short courses offered by drama schools. 10% of places on the course are free bursary places which will be offered to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who are at risk or marginalised.

And there’s a new full time diploma course in Musical Theatre starting at Associated Studios, founded by Leontine Hass, who is its Artistic Director, based at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. The 32 week, three term course runs from 10.00 am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday. It starts in September 2013.

So what are they offering? They say it will be rigorous and that the whole range of performance skills will be brought up to the level required in ‘consummate professionals.’ There is also an emphasis on developing proactivity so that as well as working with established directors, casting directors, agents, writers, composers and performers, students will learn how to devise a cabaret, balance a programme, deal with a venue, prepare a demo tape and succeed in an audition. The cost of this course has not yet been announced.

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