Launching two new acting degree courses, Leeds College of Music, with its specialist facilities, is preparing students for a career by connecting them to local companies
The performing arts industry is a rapidly evolving world, and actor training courses need to reflect that evolution. Two innovative new programmes at one of the country’s leading conservatoires are doing just that.
Leeds College of Music’s BA (hons) Acting and BA (hons) Actor Musician are new, full-time, three-year degree courses with flexible, creative curricula at their heart. They ensure graduates are ready to work as actors in today’s climate, while encouraging them to shape the future of the whole industry.
“We need to start treating our actors as artists,” says Erin Carter, programme leader for both courses. “Actors need intensive skills training to succeed, but they also need opportunities to collaborate, to create work and develop the entrepreneurial skills they’ll need to sustain an artistic career for a lifetime. Our courses offer both. We are training actors who want to affect the industry and serve it.”
Both courses are full-time, intensive programmes, offering 30 hours of contact time per week, for 30 weeks a year, including individually tailored one-on-one training in voice or instrument. In the first two years, students study the fundamentals of acting (for both stage and screen), voice, movement and, on the actor-musician course, musicianship.
In the third year students perform a season of graduate work, serving as their industry introduction. As well as live performances, students create showreels and an online portfolio, all of which is shared with industry professionals. Graduates leave with everything an emerging artist needs to make their name.
“This level of conservatoire training is unique in the north,” says Carter. “We will be able to contribute the missing link for companies and theatres already doing excellent work in the region – a local source of conservatoire-trained performers. Our graduates will be ready to work anywhere in the world, but they can stay and support the arts sector in the north for as long as they want to. That’s really important.”
Collaboration is crucial in the performing arts, and so it is at Leeds College of Music. Both courses are run in partnership with two internationally renowned companies – Leeds Playhouse and Red Ladder Theatre Company.
“It’s been a priority to connect with people making excellent work in the region,” says Carter. “Our students will work with these companies through their development. It is the ideal time, when they are at their most creative, making theatre from nothing.”
The course will be taught by Carter, a writer, director and theatremaker, alongside a faculty of experienced tutors and visiting industry professionals. Training will take place across Leeds College of Music’s two campuses – the main site at Quarry Hill, and the bespoke arts campus, a 1,200-sq-metre facility with state-of-the-art studios and a purpose-built theatre.
“Everything is new and ready to go,” says Carter. “Leeds College of Music already buzzes with energy. It’s full of new ideas and ready for new theatremakers. My goal is to see students outgrow us. I want them bursting out of the walls – so inspired by their training they can’t wait to get out there and start making.”
Entry to both programmes is by audition and, in support of its mission to make art accessible to all, Leeds College of Music doesn’t charge any audition fees.
“I’m really interested in working with students that don’t necessarily think they ‘belong’ in higher education,” says Carter. “We’re looking for talented people that are determined to succeed. Irrespective of their background, I want storytellers from all walks of life, artists that don’t fit in a box, who are willing to work hard and reap the rewards.”
For more information on the two courses visit lcm.ac.uk