So, you’ve got the acting bug and now you’re looking for a place to go to drama school. There are so many different choices, at home and abroad. Whilst doing your research you’ve noticed that in the lists of top acting schools there are a lot from the UK. Ah, wouldn’t it be nice to go to the land of Shakespeare, the West End and Bridget Jones’ Diary. And you could have Europe right on your doorstep as a career possibility as well! Or perhaps you simply prefer cold weather. There are a lot of reasons why actors think about travelling to work and study over in the UK and here at StageMilk we have compiled a list of the pros and cons to help you decide if heading on that 20-hour plane trip to the UK is worth it!
The UK offers so many different paths of study and opportunities for artists and actors, due to their thriving arts sector. There are so many benefits to receive your acting training over there, including its thriving arts sector and diversity of opportunities. However, studying in the UK is costly and there are factors like weather, homesickness and accent work that are worth considering.
#1 Studying within a Larger Acting Industry in the UK
It is no secret that the UK has a thriving arts sector, with such a large public broadcaster like the BBC producing original content, not to mention the amount of theatres on West End alone. There is constantly new work being made. If you’re from Australia, even the major cities like Sydney and Melbourne can’t compete with London or Edinburgh when it comes to the arts. No matter what it is, you will find your niche in the UK. You don’t even need to settle into a large city like London, as there are thriving arts pockets all around the country.
Not to mention, Europe is also right at your doorstep. If you are eligible for EU citizenship (which a bunch of Aussies who have heritage in Europe are) then try and snag a passport so that you can not only work in the UK but also on those artsy French films and experimental German theatre.
#2 Quality of Acting Training in the UK
There is no doubt about the fact that the UK has great drama schools. Check out this article on some of the best drama schools in the UK.
The quality of the training that you would receive at some of the UK’s top schools would provide you with a toolkit for your future acting career that can be hard to come by in other places. In many schools in the UK, it is common practice to have guest teachers and even sometimes permanent tutors who are actively working in the industry in a big way. To determine the quality of the training you will receive at each school, make sure you read the prospectus, attend a virtual or in person open day and talk to other current and former students about their experiences studying at the school. In particular, if you can talk to Aussies who did the course you may be able to get a more specific rundown of what your experience could be like.
#3 Prestige of Training in the UK
There is a certain amount of je ne sais quoi that having received your acting training overseas provides. If you get into one of the acting schools with a larger amount of A List alumni then that provides another bonus. Whilst prestige shouldn’t be the reason you go to the UK, it is definitely a plus.
Given the quality of the actors consistently coming out of the top drama schools, agents may be more likely to be interested in putting you on their books. However, this is unpredictable and also largely comes down to the climate of the industry and which schools are being held in highest esteem at that moment.
#4 Making Connections in the UK Acting Industry
One of the perks of going to drama school is the connections that you make with your fellow peers and industry members. In the UK, there are lots of programs dedicated to plucking young, emerging talent from drama schools and placing them into programs and industry placements.
Furthermore, several schools have incredibly strong alumni networking opportunities, so if that is something you are interested in make sure you ask the admissions centre about it.
#5 The Variety of Schools in the UK
In Australia, there are only so many drama schools to choose from that have various methods of practising. However, in the UK there is a HUGE array of different schools that all have different specialties. You can train in whatever you want, and if full time study isn’t your thing, there are literally hundreds of other courses you can take that are part time and help you focus on a specific skill or practitioner.
This vast array of choices will allow you to tailor your acting training to you. Full time study isn’t for everybody and that is completely valid and the UK has got you covered if you need a more flexible alternative or simply wanna brush up on a specific skill.
#1 The Cost of Studying in the UK
It is no secret that studying in the UK is crazy expensive. Even for UK citizens who reside in Australia, you still have to pay the international fees unless you’ve lived on UK soil for five years prior to commencing your degree. This means that there are financial barriers for most of us when it comes to studying in the UK.
There are possible work arounds for this, including some very limited scholarship opportunities. However, these are incredibly competitive and often before admission you need to be able to prove that you can afford to pay for the entire degree upfront. Not all schools do this, but some do so make sure you check.
Furthermore, it actually costs money to audition for some schools. As with most drama schools, there is typically an application fee and some drama schools have even started to require that you fly to London for your audition and call back. Jet-setting!
#2 Moving Away from Home to Study in the UK
Some people love being away from home, but I think it is worth thinking about where you want to land once you’ve finished drama school. As mentioned above, drama school is great for amazing connections to the industry and to your acting peers. However, if you wanna make the most of that, have a think about whether you’ll stay in the UK once you finish your degree. Knowing a lot of people in the UK might not be super helpful if you decide you want to continue your career in the US or Australia. Whilst the more people you know the better, you only really get one chance at the network that drama school can open to you.
#3 The Weather in the UK
This may seem like a silly one, but the difference in climate between most parts of Australia and the UK is huge. It is well known that a lot of UK-based Aussies take Vitamin D to supplement their bodies with sunlight whilst living in the UK, so if you’re someone who feels super down or unmotivated on a cold or cloudy day this may be something to consider. I have many friends who have made the move to London and come home due to the cold! It’s real and we Aussies just love the sun.
#4 Needing to Have a UK Accent to Get Work
This is a small con but given that you will be residing in the UK, most of your work will require accent work. If you’ve got an awesome RP in your back pocket then this shouldn’t be an issue, but if accents are not your strong point, then take some time to consider if you want to be asked to do a UK accent for most auditions. However, even if they’re not your strong point, this shouldn’t be a deal breaker because you can always get better at accents!
The UK is a wonderful place that offers so many opportunities to actors, creatives and the film & theatre industries. Over there, so much art-making is built into their culture and society in an enormous fashion. There are so many benefits to live in one of the Western world capitals of theatre, art and cinema. It will open many doors as an actor and as a general human being!
However, studying in the UK is unaffordable for many. Make sure you have sufficient savings or some kind of income that allows you to make payments whilst still focusing on actually studying and enjoying the experience. Other factors like weather, accent-work and being away from home are smaller factors that may be deal-breakers for you.
Ultimately, if you can manage it there are so many positives to being over in the UK, so why not keep on looking and find the school that is right for you!