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  • Mark Westbrook

What Should Be included in a Drama Course?




If you have decided to take the plunge and delve into the world of further education in Drama, then no doubt by now you have been hit with the onslaught of various programs that exist and may be staring blankly into the void wondering “What on earth is any of these supposed to be?” Should I do an HNC? HND? BA? BFA? Why are there so many letters?


What do they mean...I JUST WANT TO ACT!!! 


Breathe.


When it comes to drama courses the most important things to look at initially are time and content. An HNC will last one year, an HND two, and a BFA/BA anywhere from three to four. It’s at this stage that you need to look at where your skills already sit and how you might want to proceed. 


Beyond looking at the time commitment the content of the course is paramount. 

The holy trinity of any course in drama should be: Acting, Voice, Movement. If the course somehow misses these as major components in the year, RUN. Don’t look back. Even if the course promises to incorporate Voice and Movement into their Acting course, beware, Whereas they work together, they must be given equal and separate attention to develop a truly dynamic performer. Trying to jam them into a single all encompassing class does a serious injustice to all three and will ultimately leave you with gaps in your training.

 

Once you have determined that Acting, Voice and Movement are given equal weight you can begin to look at the methodologies attributed to a course that best suit you. 


The last century has given us a plethora of methodologies when it comes to acting and any drama course worth its salt will begin with Stanislavisky’s system of acting. The venerated Russian actor who took the world from the doldrums of melodrama to the heights modern acting must be present in some form of your tutelage. Even if a school claims to teach the works of another master (Meisner, Adler, Hagen, Checkov, etc) all roads lead back to Stanislavski and to ignore his initial practice and its evolution is a fed flag in selection of a course. Acting needs to be about creating a role, working with an ensemble, and self improvement of your instrument and its emotional capacity. 


Drama Courses should almost always have some component of Shakespeare in their programme. Although some might see this as “too classical” We have to understand that his works are the most performed texts in existence and have lasted over half a century. Classical training in Greek, Roman, and Restoration acting styles are a bonus, but Shakespeare is a must. 


So, we have the major components covered, and now you can look at the elements of a drama course that might have particular interest to you. Do you want to be a film actor? Acting for the Camera courses are key. Musical Theatre? Dance, Ballet, Voice...a must. Or perhaps you want a general more well rounded drama course that turns you into a general practitioner. Find a school that offers additional classes in Make-up, Scenic Design, Costuming and Lighting as superlatives to your main track in Drama.


There is a lot to choose from but the best form of approach is to simply ask yourself what you want...what kind of practitioner you want to be? Once you know, find a course that gives you the “must-haves” focused with a methodology that fits your learning style, and finally a selection of courses that engage and fulfill your interests and passions.  


Happy Hunting and Break a Leg!

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