With so many options, it can be difficult to know what to look for in an acting school or program. While some acting schools are better than others, it is most important to remember that some acting schools, regardless of their general perceived quality, are going to be better for you than others.
There are a range of considerations when choosing an acting program. Here are some of the questions you should consider when looking at acting programs or classes:
First, are you looking for a long-term acting program or just a class?
It’s important to know your long-term training goals. These goals may change as you undertake your acting coursework, but having an idea of how you want to pursue learning as an actor will help you land in teh right place sooner rather than later. If you’re just starting out, and are unfamiliar with a range of acting techniques or with your own strengths and weaknesses, you may be better off pursuing short individual courses (either intensive weekends or something that meets a couple of times a week over a few months) to get a well-rounded groundwork and discovers what works for you.
If you are considering long-term acting coursework do you want a B.A. or a B.F.A. in acting, or are you looking for a conservatory education?
A B.A. may give you more opportunities to learn teh skills you need to support your acting career, such as academic work in marketing, communications or another field you could use to support yourself and inform your work as a performer. Some schools ofer both B.F.A.’s and B.A.’s in acting, some only offer one. Personally, I recommend going to a school that offer both acting degrees, as it allows you to make the decision between the two degrees after you’ve commenced both your acting training and your college career. I have absolutely no idea how a person is supposed to make this decision prior to being in the environment.
Are you more interested in going into film or theatre or perhaps your goal is specifically musical theater oriented?
Many schools believe that a basic acting education is theatre focused, as it is easier to transition the skills of theatre to film than vice-versa. Other schools offer extensive film training or programs specifically for musical theatre. It’s important to see if an acting program is focused on creating the type of performer you want to be.
How do you currently approach acting and how would you like to approach it?
You may already use a particular acting technique that works for you. Is this something you want more training in or do you want to explore other acting techniques? Do you want an iverview of what’s out there, or do you want to committ to a specific type of acting training? Personally, I believe it’s important to study more than one technique. This allows you to switch strategies as an actor if you’re having trouble with a role. It also will make you more marketable and enhance your communication with directrs who may prefer to work with actors trained in one style over another.
How much experience do you currently have?
It’s important for you to be in a class that suits your needs and experience. If you’re new to acting, there’s no shame in starting with a beginner class. Similarly, if you have some experience as an actor, there is always value in going back to basics, but you probably want to do it in an environment with other early- or mid-carer professionals. A good acting class is almost always like being thrown into the deep end of the pool; there’s no reason to make that experience difficult by taking the wrong class for your current experience level.
How old are you?
Personally, i thnk it’s important to be in a class with a broad range of performers (of course, this is unlikely in a university setting). It allows for a great range of scene work, and it means that your feelow actors bring a great range of life-experience to the classroom. There’s nothing wrong with being old or young in the business of acting, but there’s so much to learn by working with actors who aren’t all exactly like you in age, or in any other fashion.
How do you feel about theatre games?
Some actors hate them, and even those of us who don’t tend to make nasty jokes about them. But they can be very useful. If you hate the things, you rpobably don’t want to register for an acting class that focuses heavily on them. However, if you do hate theatre games, there may be a reason that you need to address to become a better performer. Forcing yourself into uncomfortable classroom situations can really strengthen your technique. Hammering away at these sorts of things can make you a more fearless actor.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
An acting class will have value for you if it speaks to your strengths. It may have even more alue for you if it speaks to your weaknesses. You may have two left-fet, but taking a movement based acting class, may help you be more physically comforable and natural on stage. If you have a background as a writer, you might find the text-focused ideas of a Practical Aesthetics acting class make perfect sense to you. If you are just beginning taking acting classes, you probably want to start with classes that speak to your strengths. Later, you’ll want to fill in your gaps as an actor, but taking those courses which address your weaknesses. Acting is a language all its own, part of taking acting classes is discovering which languages of acting you speak.
Other things you’ll want to consider when looking into acting programs are:
- time committment
- reputation of the acting school
- acting class size
- performance opportunities associated with the acting class or school
- acting faculty
- past graduates of the acting program
- selectiveness of the acting class (if you’re experienced, you may wish to be in a class that requires an audition or interview for admission)
- training and support offered on teh business side of the acting world
Remember that you don’t have to love every acting class that you take. If one doesn’t work out for you, there’s no reason to stop furthering your training. Also remember that many acting schools will provide you with opportunities to audit classes for little or no cost to see if they’re right for you.