The truth about drama school

IN THE SPOTLIGHT Drama school can be an isolating, confusing experience.

Make a good first impression

The stakes are always very high at drama school. Don’t go into any project half cooked. Every meeting, audition, opportunity and job prospect across your career will see you judged and appraised in the first 10 seconds. Learn that at drama school and you won’t need to pick up any other skill.

There is no such thing as a learning process

You are on display all the time – rehearsing, work-shopping, preparing, performing – never assume you’ll be given a break because you’re a student. You’re an adult, so take it seriously. There is only success or failure. The audience either likes the show, or it doesn’t.

At one point, they’ll try to get rid of you

It might be a case of the kind of reverse psychology that went out of fashion in 1980, but if a drama school wants to make you work harder they’ll threaten you with expulsion. Get used to surviving such stratagems, they’re an integral part of the performing arts. If you feel you’re about to be expelled, go down fighting, otherwise years of processing ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’ awaits you. There are plenty of successful people who were thrown out of drama school before graduating.

They’ll constantly tell you how precarious the industry is

It’s probably to cover themselves in case you try to sue them later, when you end-up one of the 99 per cent unemployed in the performing arts, but you’ll hear plenty of statistics about your chances. Don’t listen to them, because like all ‘odds’, there is no perfect tipster to predict what will happen in your career.

Someone you know will become famous

One or two might even become very, very famous. Plenty of others will give up the industry and you’ll never hear of them again. If you can maintain a career somewhere between these two extremes (with everyone else), you’ll be a resounding success in the performing arts.

You won’t learn everything at any one drama school

Despite what many schools offer, not one of them can teach you everything you need. The rest you must pick up along the way.

Once the show starts, it can’t be stopped

The greatest gift to the drama school student is that all performances are in the hands of the artist, not the teacher. Go for it, it’s your time to fearlessly shine.

Don’t fool yourself about your education

You could do honours, masters, bachelors and graduate diplomas, but as soon as you enter the industry, you’ll still have to make the coffee. Hint: don’t wave your certificates around, no-one cares.

Some people never go to drama school at all

They just get a job in the industry in their teens and work their way up.

© Michael Burge, all rights reserved. 

2 thoughts on “The truth about drama school”

  1. Couldn’t agree more. A bit like Olympic athletes, when it comes to it you’re on your own and there are no excuses!

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