3 Year Acting for Film and Television - Curriculum
The students are given a range of techniques for text analysis, character creation and scene study using the creative explorations of Stanislavski, Sanford Meisner, Mike Leigh and others. They are encouraged to explore and utilise their own physical, emotional and psychological resources as part of the creative process. They learn how to use improvisation as part of the rehearsal process and how to analyse heightened text and present it with confidence and truth.
There is a practical application of the training in productions of plays by Chekhov and Shakespeare; the American classics of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams; the theatre experimentalists such as Pirandello, Brecht and Berkoff; and British playwrights from Coward to Pinter, and more recently Jim Cartwright, Jez Butterworth and Che Walker.
This course gives a thorough training in acting for film and television and the students spend a lot of time in front of the camera, both in the acting studios and out on location.
Using observation of people in real-life situations; their own imaginations and emotional memories; and the techniques of Mike Leigh, the students learn how to create fully rounded and truthful characters.
The students are taught how to make an in-depth analysis of a text using the methods of Stanislavski. This includes units and objectives; obstacles and actions; and methods of “actioning” the text. In year two the students are taught how to analyse the iambic pentameter and the rhetorical language of Shakespeare in order to bring the text to life.
The students are taught how to improvise truthfully and creatively and then that skill is applied to the exploration of character and relationships in the rehearsal of a play.
The screen actor needs to be able to do lots of preparation on his or her own. ArtsEd enables the actor to stimulate their imaginations alone and gives them a range of methods and techniques to reveal the character to the camera. The screen actor has to be able to concentrate on what they are thinking, as the character, at every moment of the scene - for at least twelve hours a day, remaining calm, relaxed and focused in the most stressful environments. By putting the students through many hours of shooting they develop a profound grasp of what they need to do to reveal a character on screen. They will discover how to reveal thoughts to the camera, how to be emotionally alive and in the moment. How to shape and judge their performance for the frame size the director has chosen. Most importantly how to focus their vocal range for the camera, putting their energy into their thoughts and not their voices. They also get to crew their own projects giving them a crucial insight into how a real film set actually works, giving the student an appreciation of the rhythm of film making. Knowing what is happening around you gives the actor the confidence to know how to reveal their character on screen.
For the screen actor the process is non linear and non organic. It takes enormous courage to reveal ones characters vulnerabilities to the camera. To develop that courage the student actor has to have the full range of modules that ArtsEd teaches.
The students are taught how to create their own interesting and entertaining material for solo performance. The purpose of this module is to empower the students; give them total ownership all aspects of a performance; and help them develop a shared relationship with an audience.
The students are given extensive sight-reading classes to ensure that they are able to bring life and realism to a scene when they read it aloud in interviews, auditions or first-readings.
The students learn how to use their own particular vocal qualities to express their inner thoughts and emotions. They learn how to develop a range of texts and effectively fill a space, however large or small, through precise articulation and muscularity. They also learn how to master various dialects and accents.
The students are taught how to use the International Phonetic Alphabet in order to develop a personal notation system for the spoken word.
Dialects and Accents
The students are taught how to study and acquire and accent without professional help. The learn Received Pronunciation (or Standard English Pronunciation) appropriate to their playing age, together with a range of dialects and accents
The students study and perform various political speeches in order to develop an understanding of the use of language and the vocal skills required to have a strong effect on the listener.
The students are given classes in the use of poetic or heightened language using texts by writers such as William Wycherley, William Congreave, Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward.
The Recorded Voice
The students are taught radio technique and microphone skills in order to provide them with a broad range of out-of-vision acting skills – drama, voice-over, adverts, station announcements, live sports events, etc. Students are entered for the BBC Carlton Hobbs Bursary and the Hobson’s prize for voice-over.
Each student explores his or her individual singing voice through the medium of choral and solo work. They learn how to sing the lyrics with truth and use them to communicate character, sub-text and emotion during the performance of a song. Many fine singers emerge during the period of training and all students develop a confidence in, and sense of ownership over, their own innate musicality.
The students are taught basic musicianship, the first principles of vocal use and ensemble singing
The students develop an understanding of the narrative qualities of a singing performance and learn the appropriate processes to deliver a song as a singing-actor. They also develop a repertoire of songs appropriate to their individual talent.
The students learn how to perform a piece of Music Theatre integrating the singing and acting disciplines in a duet.
MOVEMENT AND DANCE
The training promotes a sense of individual confidence in the body. The students work in a range of physical areas including broad-based dance techniques, physical transformation and Alexander Technique. They also receive a thorough training in stage combat skills, basic safety devises and combat choreography. Each student is entered for the BADC Level 1 qualification.
The students learn how to use their body as an expressive actor’s instrument while developing a growing awareness of their unique physical range of expression. A range of practitioners cover areas such as Mask, Commedia and Clowning, drawing on the work of Jacques Lecoq.
The students learn how to use their imagination to fulfil the given choreographic structures. They learn how to perform choreographed dance pieces with precision, confidence and style.
The students are introduced to the practice and principles of Alexander technique as it applies to drama training. They learn how to let go of tension habits and use their body and mind in an easy, light, free and co-ordinated manner.
The students receive a thorough training in stage and screen, combat skills, including basic safety devises and combat choreography. They are taught how to give and receive punches and kicks without injury to themselves. They also develop a competence in single sword, rapier and dagger and longsword (broadsword). They perform a naturalistic fight sequence within a dialogue scene from a play or film. Each student is entered for the British Academy of Dramatic Combat (BADC) Level 1 qualification.
The students explore the historical roots of live theatre and film. They attend theatre performances, watch classic films and discuss both contemporary and classical plays. The school is ideally placed for easy access to the West End. Dyslexic students are given additional support for any written work.
In order to prepare the students for work in the profession, they are given extensive training in personal and professional presentation.
Interview and Audition Technique
During Year Two the students are given classes in sight-reading, interview technique and self-promotion. These include extensive “role-play” interviews and interview/auditions with professional directors. Dyslexic students are given additional support with sight-reading.
Professional Employment Skills
The students are given a comprehensive series of lectures from visiting industry professionals:
Agents – from co-ops to middle range agents; and top personal managers
Casting Directors – for theatre, film and/or television
Directors – theatre directors, television directors and film directors
Actors – ex-ArtsEd students; working film, television, theatre and radio actors
The Actor’s Centre
They are also given lectures in:
How to manage financial matters including tax-returns for the self-employed
How to set up your own theatre company
How to market yourself on the Internet
Role Play – how to find corporate work as an actor
They also learn how to produce an informative CV and create an Action Plan for the year after they finish the course. They are given advice on their promotional photographs and are taught how to present themselves to agents and casting directors.
What our graduates go on to do
Despite the stiff competition for work in the profession, we have a very high percentage of students receiving agent representation and finding work at the end of the course.
In the last three years many of our students have found work in television drama, sit-coms and films both in England and the United States. Several students have joined the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company and others have worked in West End productions. Free-lance directors who have worked at the school have asked ex-students to be in their professional productions. Many students have also found work in smaller theatres and nationwide tours.
Martin Clunes, Nigel Havers, Hugo Speer and Catherine Zeta-Jones all trained at the Arts Educational School.