• Mark Westbrook

What should I look for in a good foundation acting course?

Secondary school does not prepare most graduates for the performing arts. Experience in a school drama club or community theatre just doesn't cut it.

Still, no student with the theatre bug should consider the task hopeless, even a student starting at the very beginning. Foundation acting courses bridge the gap between aspiration and application. Your city probably has several institutions offering a foundational acting course, from major colleges like LAMDA and RADA, to smaller vocational schools.

Even when offered by a major drama school, a foundation acting course typically does not offer higher education credits. Nor does it guarantee admission into the degree program at the parent drama school. A foundation acting course, however, could be a stepping stone for aspiring actors.

What should you look for when shopping schools? Here is what a good foundation acting class should include:

Audition Preparation.

From top drama schools to professional acting jobs, the audition is everything. A great foundation acting course tackles it head-on. Look for a course that offers one-on-one audition coaching, group feedback, and assistance with selecting the audition piece. Many students pick Hamlet because they think that is what people want to hear. On the contrary, monologue selection is an opportunity to play to your strengths and show how you are unique — qualities you may have a hard time judging for yourself.

Creativity and Technique.

The joy of acting comes from self-expression. A foundation acting course should train voice, movement, text analysis, and possibly dance and improvisation. Whatever gets you excited about acting, make sure it is covered!

Discover what technique, if any, the course teaches — Stanislavski, Meisner, Alexander, etc. Research, watch introductory videos, and see if one of them resonates with you. Technique is the critical hard work of training. Actors who do not rise to the level of their creativity fall to the level of their technique. Get that level as high as it can be.

Professional Readiness.

Choose a foundation acting course that has its finger on the pulse of the acting industry. Remember, the goal isn't to be a professional acting student, but rather a professional actor. Look into the school's industry contacts, professional partnerships, and engagement within the world of professional theatre. Seek opportunities for introductions and chances to get a feel for the industry.

Student Outcomes.

Do graduates of this course go on to institutions you admire? Have careers you would like to emulate? If possible, get statistics for course outcomes and compare between the two. A foundation acting course with a proven track record of student success is worth a serious look.

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