So You Want To Be An Actor?

Please note this article was written for the Brighton version of the website. Make sure you explore the Actor Resources section fully to find local options elsewhere in Sussex.

The good news is that whether you’re a young person graduating from school or a more experienced person looking for a change in career, you’re in the right place. Here we discuss the options available to you in Brighton & Hove. Scour the Drama Schools and Children and Young People sections for information on schools elsewhere in Sussex.

As always, none of the schools or groups mentioned below are endorsed in any way by Ensure you do your own research before committing to any course of action.

Am-dram or professional?

The first thing so ask yourself is whether you want to pursue acting for fun, or as a potential career. Of course, there’s no reason why you can’t do both, but the levels of training required are significantly different if you plan to pursue a career as a professional actor. If you’re an adult looking for professional actor training, check out our Drama Schools section to find a suitable school local to your town.  Some provide training at evenings and weekends so that you can train around work commitments, while others offer full-time training during the daytime. All will require you to audition for entry, though they will let you know of their specific requirements, and some will be able to offer assistance in preparing for audition too.

If you’re curious about professional actor training and want to try your hand acting without committing to a full-time course, the Academy of Creative Training offers an introductory course of eight evenings spread over two weeks. This gives you an insight into the skills required of an actor, and an introductory training on voice, movement, working with text, and devising.

On the amateur scene, the New Venture Theatre runs a Monday evening drop-in whereby you can try your hand for just £5 per session (that’s the non-member rate – members pay only £2.50). These are usually run in four or six weeks blocks around specific topics – for example, Shakespeare, Method Acting or Improvisation, and you can attend all the workshops or drop in and out as your require. Workshops are run by experienced theatre professionals, and are open to all levels of ability and experience. Your first session is free.

Amateur dramatics

Most amateur dramatics organisations don’t require any previous experience – just an enthusiasm and willingness to give it a go! Some actors start in amateur dramatics before moving in to world of professional acting – some would say there’s no better experience than just doing it. However, be warned that it’s very easy to pick up bad habits in amateur dramatics (it’s also easy to do in the professional world but that’s a different story!) and it’s worth obtaining some level of professional training if you plan to move into the professional scene. Amateur performing credits are often disregarded in the professional world.

Locally we have a number of amateur theatres and theatre groups, and the quality of work is very high. In Brighton & Hove there is a large crossover between the amateur and professional scenes, and this means that in an “amateur” production, you may well see professional actors performing for the love of it!

Amateur theatres and groups locally

Brighton Little Theatre (BLT)

Brighton Little Theatre tends to stage classics, though occasionally they tread into more modern waters. They regularly take plays to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, and they also offer classes and workshops to members. It’s entirely volunteer-run, so there are opportunities to get involved backstage too.

New Venture Theatre (NVT)

The New Venture Theatre puts on a wide range of shows – from classics to modern scripts, from improvised shows to musical theatre. The building has two stage areas, a bar, and fully equipped dressing rooms. They also offer classes most Monday evenings. Like the BLT, they are also entirely volunteer-run, so opportunities exist to get involved in other areas of production too.

Other groups:

Professional acting reality

It’s important to be aware of the reality of the acting world before you embark on a career as an actor. Most actors remain in the business because they are passionate about what they do, but a large percentage drop out due to stop-start nature of the business. Some key facts to consider:

  • Only around 5% of actors are in paid work at any one time
  • 56% of Equity (acting trade union) members earned less than £10,000 as performers in 2013
  • More than half of all professional actors are under the poverty line (2013)
  • Acting contracts are usually short and not secure
  • You will most likely have to find alternative, flexible work to sustain yourself alongside your acting career

This isn’t meant to scare you off! Far from it. Most actors continue to work in the industry because they have fallen in love with a wonderful profession. A lot of actors create their own work, and the skills you learn can help you find work in other areas too. A lot of actors work as brand ambassadors for promotional events, take part in corporate role-play training, work in theatre in education (TIE), or help out at youth theatre groups.

Getting into drama school

Every drama school will have their own entry requirements, so it’s worth looking around at a number of options, both locally and nationally. Some practical considerations include:

  • Do you want to train locally, or elsewhere?
  • Are you looking to study full or part-time?
  • Does the school you’re applying to consider people of your age?
  • How much can you afford to pay in fees? Can you get government assistance or sponsorship?

Many drama schools prefer you to have life experience, and so don’t always take students straight from school or college. At the other end of the scale, some drama schools are aimed specifically at people aged 19 or over.

Whichever route you choose, is here to help you. We love acting, and we think you will too!

As with all of our pages – if we’ve missed off a local amateur dramatics group, or other useful point of reference, please contact us and we’ll get you added!