Our guide to acting
Alistair Stafford

Our guide to acting

First published date April 25 2014 Amended date May 01 2015

At some point in our lives, we’ve all been involved in some kind of acting. Whether it was a role as an extra in your primary school Christmas panto or after school drama lessons at your local amateur dramatics club, we’ve all stepped up to perform. Although your performing talents may not have been tested for many a year, an acting course will allow show you all the traits you need to make your long awaited return to the stage. 


Why bother?

Chances are that unless you’re already a household name from another profession or industry, you’re highly unlikely to break in to performing arts without some kind of acting training. This is backed up by Drama UK, who accredits acting courses and drama schools nationwide, as their research found that 86% of working actors here in the UK have had some kind of professional training to help with their career. Performers of all standards have benefited from acting training, from amateur actors to Hollywood stars, with courses giving you the chance to perform in front of an audience filled with casting directors and agents.


But I don’t want to become famous...

Even if you don’t have aspirations of becoming a West End star, there are still plenty of benefits in taking an acting course. You’ll be able to join the tens of thousands of thespians who regularly take part in amateur dramatics, which allows you to act and perform on a regular basis, often in front of a large audience, without the commitment of having to take up acting full time.

Not only that, but many of the skills you’ll develop during an acting course can then be transferred into any profession. Being able to perform in front of a crowd will significantly boost your confidence, while having to learn lots of lines in a short space of time will improve your memory – two important traits to have in whichever industry you decide to work in.  


What you’ll learn

The vast majority of acting courses will build up your technical ability while working towards rehearsing a specific production, although the amount of detail you go into will depend on the length and seriousness of the course you’ve enrolled on.   A beginners’ acting course will introduce you to some of the visual and verbal skills required to perform, looking at some of the ways to position yourself correctly and communicate confidently when on stage. Longer acting programmes are likely to include elements of working in a studio environment, showing you how to work under the bright production lights and multiple cameras. More advanced acting courses may include also include modules in dance or voice coaching, to allow you develop into an all round performer.


How the pros did it

As we’ve already mentioned, the majority of famous actors have received performance training, although others have made it to the big screen it. Here are how five well known film stars made their rise to acting stardom, each with their own unique route to fame:

. Bruce Willis – The face of the Die Hard series has heavily involved in amateur dramatics in his teenage years, but took various jobs after leaving high school before enrolling on a drama course at university.

. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Best known for his role in the Terminator, Arnie was a world famous bodybuilder prior to embarking on the road to Hollywood fame, never spending time on any kind of acting programme.

. Jonah Hill – The Superbad star studied drama at university in New York, where he started to write his own plays, before his acting career rocketed.

. Matthew McConaughey – Although the former Romcom favourite studied at university, it was a radio, television and film degree that the Wolf of Wall Street star graduated from rather than an acting programme.

. Johnny Depp – The American didn’t even make it to college, let alone drama school, as Depp dropped out of high school. However the Pirates of the Caribbean lead did attend performing arts classes at summer school.


Alternative careers

An acting course doesn’t necessarily commit you to an acting career, as you can use your new knowledge in numerous different positions within performing arts. Whether it’s working behind the scenes as part of a film production team or sharing your experiences with budding actors and developing future acting talent as a drama teacher, there are various ways you can put your acting course to good use.


Further inspiration

If our course guide hasn’t convinced you that acting is for you, then reading a student story of someone who has successfully progressed from an acting course or tips from a director who has worked at some of the world’s most prestigious drama schools may help you make a decision. Our guide to breaking into acting will enlighten you with some further expert advice, while the careers has extra information about a career in acting

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