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Training before training: are foundation courses worth it?

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In recent years, short courses and foundation courses have become increasingly popular at drama schools. Many students undertake a part-time or one-year training course in order to prepare for a full time actor training course.

In the past, these courses have been slammed for being too expensive and because many people don’t actually make it onto future training courses. So we decided to find out if it really is worth it from those who have done it.

"Rose Bruford Foundation really prepared me for a BA Acting course. We constantly learnt new techniques and skills and it just furthered my aspiration of becoming an actress. My confidence got a lot better without me realising too. We did a lot of work on monologues that without, I feel I wouldn't have done as well this year."

Elle Wilson, Foundation in Acting, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance

Find out more about the course here.

"Grab all the experience you can get as soon as you can get it. Not only will you have a hell of a lot of fun, you'll also learn massive amounts that will help you in the future, and that's never a bad thing. Don't sit around doing nothing for a year; get working and training as soon as possible and you'll be so glad you did!"

– Francesca Dell, Foundation in Acting, Academy of Live and Recorded Arts

"I learnt how to present my best self. You'll end up doing so many mock auditions and so many spine roles that nothing surprises you in the auditions - even if you're unaware of it, you'll be ready."

- Molly Walker, Foundation in Acting, Academy of Live and Recorded Arts

Find out more about the course here.

"It was definitely worth it. Without sounding like an arrogant prick, I'm now at GSA. I wouldn't be here if I didn't have some talent, and I think that talent is down to Conti's foundation training. Don't doubt foundation courses. Yes, it's what you do if you're not ready, but it makes you ready."

- David Paynes, Foundation in Acting, Italia Conti

Find out more about the course here.

"I did a foundation course at Oxford School of Drama before coming to Drama Studio London and I'd say, if you're lucky enough to have the money, they can be a great way of working out whether drama school is for you. You honestly don't really understand what it's going to be like at drama school until you've been to one, and it could save you a lot of time and money in the long run if you realise after a foundation course, that it's not what you want to do. It can also make you hungry for more, and drive your determination to get on to a three-year! You don't need a foundation course to get on to a three-year, but if you're having a year out, make sure you use it productively and get proactive with improving your acting."

Eleanor Doherty, Foundation in Acting, Oxford School of Drama

Find out more about the course here.

"It's taken me four years to get my place at drama school, and I think that's hugely because when I started out I wasn't mature enough and didn't have enough experience to survive a drama school training - and those schools that I applied to could obviously see that as well.

"However, over these four years I have gone out and gained experience, through a combination of a drama school course and a year with a theatre company, and I have a lot to thank for the experience these opportunities gave me.

"I know that some people think that gap years and foundation courses aren't worth the hassle and I would agree that some charge very high fees, and often for only part-time hours, making these types of courses inaccessible for many.

"But there are schools out there that offer similar courses or even government funded courses. There are some out there that offer a really good introduction into training. I would also ask, what else would you be doing if you weren't doing a foundation course or something similar? Be careful that you know what you are paying for, but if it keeps you active, engaged and meeting likeminded people then why not?"

Elizabeth Bell, Part-time Diploma in Acting, Royal Central School of Drama & Peer Productions Theatre Company

Find out more about the courses here.

"What they require you to do in drama school is not for everybody. It is a serious training and you are expected to work as professionally as you were on a film set, and the process demands you to work hard, physically, emotionally, psychologically, and mentally; therefore, I believe that doing a foundation course before approaching the training is one of the best ways to understand if you're done for this - if you've never had any kind of experience, or just come out of high school, or even if you actually have had experiences previously.

"It is not only a course where you learn techniques, you learn about yourself and how far you can push yourself, and what being an actor means. You grow as a human being and that will make your attitude much stronger, will develop your personality and at the end of it you will be able to make your own decision. It is all about commitment."

Luca Ippoliti, Foundation in Acting, Giles Foreman Centre for Acting

Find out more about the course here.




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