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The British Alternative

Preparing a report on a subject that inspires such enthusiasm has been a rewarding experience. There appears to be no difference of opinion when it comes to the topic of American students at drama schools in London. The schools welcome the Americans with open arms. RADA vice principal Ellis Jones raved of his American students, "They bring a breath of energy and joy," a fairly typical comment. The students themselves rate their decision to come to London as among the best they have ever made. "I feel welcome," said one. "They look to us and want to see how we do things." Evidently this Anglo-American entente is extremely cordiale.

Even allowing for the fact that no school would have been likely to introduce me to a student dissatisfied with the course, the atmosphere at every school I visited was incontrovertibly buoyant and optimistic. No one loves the idea of a conspiracy more than I, but a British drama school cover-up cannot be conceived. Everyone is having a lovely time--and it's close enough to the truth to say that everyone always has.

Growing up in Belfast, Kenneth Branagh had no idea how to become an actor. "Then I discovered drama schools," he recalled recently, "those insalubrious places where you could hang out and be disreputable." If you ever have considered training for the stage in the land where Branagh learned his craft, now is the time to put your plan into action. The questions you may have--What can I get in London that I can't get here? What school should I audition for? How can I survive in London?--are all answered in the next few pages.

SUB: On Your Feet and Acting

The cult of the independent acting teacher has never existed in the U.K. There has never been a British equivalent of Adler, Meisner, and Strasberg. Of the three, only Strasberg is listed in "The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre," and it's likely that even he wouldn't have merited an entry had the Method not had so much adverse publicity in the British press. The Method is to this day a joke. In rehearsal an actor has only to ask, "Why am I doing this?" for someone else to jeer, "Bloody Method actors." Method acting, studied as the British perceive the Americans to do it--in between acting jobs for the rest of your life--is not the British way.

The British way is to concentrate the study of many different teachings, Stanislavsky high on the list, into an intense period covering five or six days a week for one, two, or three years, and then never to set foot in a drama class again. To the casual observer, it seems as though there should be a happy medium. But there isn't. According to our British interviewees, finding a full-time course in the U.S. that doesn't involve theory is very difficult. British schools mock American conservatoires that offer only a few hours' training (i.e., getting up and actually performing) in their curriculums. "We have 50 hours of training a week," boasts Mountview's founder, Peter Coxhead. "That's unheard of in America."

In the U.K., however, where individual drama coaching consists almost entirely of old, unemployed actors listening to your audition speeches over the kitchen table, there are a great many drama schools that demand your unquestioning commitment virtually 365 days a year. "There is a belief," Coxhead continues, "that the method of training in England is the most thorough anywhere in the world." If this is the kind of sacrifice you think your art demands, perhaps it is becoming clear that the U.K. is where you ought to be.

SUB: A Standard to Choose By

The question of which school to choose is not as easily resolved. By the 1970s many industry people felt that standards of drama training in the U.K. had fallen and that the time had come to protect eager teenagers, desperate for stardom, from unscrupulous schools that banked the fees and gave little in return. The National Council for Drama Training, established in 1976, accredits schools able to prove that they are achieving their goals to train working actors. For nearly 20 years I advised everyone who wrote to me only to audition for accredited schools. It seemed the right thing to do at the time, when British agents claimed they would not even read a resume sent from an actor who had trained at a non-accredited school.

Things have changed. Or perhaps it's just that I started talking to more drama students. I realized that accredited schools are examined only once every five years. This means that an accredited school can employ bad teachers for four years or more. And some of them have. Agents are no longer influenced by the name of a posh school if the actor who went there doesn't possess saleable skills. All the agents I called while writing this agreed that what they are really looking for is an all-rounder with whatever look is in vogue. The ideal actor plays every sport and a musical instrument, speaks more than one language, and looks good. It doesn't matter where he trained.

Obviously, if you are talented and lucky enough to be accepted by the likes of RADA or LAMDA, you can anticipate working with high-caliber tutors. But try to find instruction in what you want to learn. Robert ("Trainspotting") Carlyle is currently a very hot actor indeed, but hasn't got a good word to say about the training he received. "At drama schools they played us records of Olivier and Gielgud and I found it so over the top," he complained. "Olivier may have been one of the best actors of his generation--I don't know because I never saw the guy live--but his style in films is ridiculous. It has no relevance."

Many of the leading British schools now audition in several cities throughout the States. If you like the sound of the prospectus, you could go and give your one modern monologue, one Shakespeare, and all it may cost you is the audition fee. (Yes, every school charges you to audition.) But this may not be the way to achieve the peace of mind you require. Sooner or later, if you're successful, you're going to have to come to London. So why not come now? Visit the schools themselves (I know of none that won't welcome you), perhaps see graduation shows and talk to other students. The students I met had made their decisions after just this kind of research, and that's why they had no regrets.

This article focuses on London because it would have been impossible to examine the whole of the U.K. in similar detail. On page TK you'll find a list of all the accredited courses throughout the country, and there are many more non-accredited courses, at least 65, in the book "Contacts." It's available from The Spotlight--the British casting directory--at 7 Leicester Place, London WC2H 7BP; tel: 0171-437 7631. Although the choice may seem bewildering at first glance, I can guarantee that the process of elimination will be rapid. I could hasten it further by listing the schools to avoid, but life is too short to spend even part of it defending a libel action. Fortunately the Internet is not subject to such restrictions. You'll find my e-mail address on page TK.

SUB: The Future Before You

When you have made your choice, you must be prepared for the possibility that British drama training will change your life irrevocably. Bonds will be forged and discoveries made, especially during the maximum three-year course, that may make it difficult for you to go back to the life you left. You are probably aware that, shortly after your student visa expires, you are required by law to leave the U.K. No drama school in this survey will recommend an attempt to flout the law, but it would be ridiculous for me to pretend that successful attempts are not made.

Alternative magazines are full of advertisements from those requesting or offering an "M.B.A." (mutually beneficial arrangement.) Two American actresses in London, Ruby Wax and Kit Hollerbach, have been quite open about their marriages of convenience. It is worth pointing out, however, that the majority of overseas students who decide to stay in the U.K. are unable to find enough work to support themselves, and eventually move on. The name of a good British school on your resume can mean more in the States than it does in the U.K. There is a small community of American actors, mainly in London, who are permanent U.K. residents. You are bound to meet them and they will be able to give you advice you can use.

First things first. Collect together your prospectuses. Talk to your friends and relatives. Prepare a budget. But above all, take your time. You are about to make one of the most important investments of your life. Once you have made the right choice, the scope of the adventure awaiting you can only be hinted at in these pages

SUB: The Schools: Six Profiles

SUB-SUB: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA)

Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree founded the Academy of Dramatic Art at His Majesty's Theatre in 1904. The school moved to its present address the following year. Its Royal Charter was granted in 1920. The present Vanbrugh theatre was opened in 1954. RADA is in the center of London. Write: The Registrar's Secretary, RADA, 62-64 Gower Street, London WC1E 6ED.

The sculptured portals of RADA can only be described as hallowed. RADA is without question the most famous drama school in the world, and through its doors have passed students who went on to become some of the world's most famous actors. Hundreds are so renowned that surnames suffice, among them Hardwicke, Gielgud, Laughton, Attenborough, McCowen, Finney, O'Toole, Courtenay, Bates, Hopkins, Pryce, Rickman, Rylance, Branagh, Fiennes.

If it is difficult to understand how one school could exert such power and influence throughout this century, it should be remembered that, right from its inception, RADA has had some very powerful friends, including Sir James Barrie, W.S. Gilbert, and especially George Bernard Shaw,--who helped pay for the conversion of RADA's premises in 1927, and later bequeathed a third of his royalties to the school. Success breeds success. In the early years, children of actors paid half-fees, and theatrical dynasties flourished.

And let us not forget the Royal Charter. "Anything with the term 'royal,' even bearing in mind the debased coinage of today's Royal Family, takes on reflected glory," says Vice Principal Ellis Jones with a wry smile. RADA is the school to which every would-be actor considers applying. Many Americans are called (every year, in New York), but few are chosen. Jones consults his notes. "This last month we auditioned 140 people and short-listed five. Most years we'll take one or two North Americans, but sometimes there are none," he announces.

Needless to say, the three-stage audition process is rigorous, as Jones recounts: "We have the preliminary audition in New York and recall people the same day. The short list comes back to London. Everyone on the short list has to come to a workshop in London for a whole day. It's really worthwhile. There's an hour's movement class, then we move on to a voice class, then a two-hour rehearsal, then a free improvisation class, and by this time members of the audition panel are observing. After the improvisation, the students form into three groups and work with directors in a class situation preparing a speech they will have brought with them. The panel then moves into a Vatican-type enclave and makes the final short list. We normally inform applicants within the next few days."

It goes without saying that, having made the effort to come to London, you still may not get into RADA. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket," is Jones' advice. "There's a mystique about RADA, but a number of schools provide excellent training." Nevertheless it is not easy for someone who has set his heart on the most famous drama school in the world to accept second-best. RADA may make the highest demands of its students, but it offers the most in return. "Yes, all the major agents and casting directors come here," Jones agrees. "London is a terrific place to be if you're a theatre animal, and RADA is just up the road from the West End. You might easily see Alan Rickman in a corridor, or run into Dickie [Attenborough, RADA's chairman] going to a board meeting. In fact, one of our American graduates, Diane Witter, had a part in Dickie's film 'In Love and War.' You do get the exposure. Last July, 29 students graduated and, by September, 25 had found employment. That includes major parts in films and television. One boy's first theatre job was opposite Diana Rigg at the National."

The one criticism regularly made of RADA is that it produces clones. There is some validity in this criticism, even today. In a recent issue of RADA's magazine, four Americans studying at RADA were interviewed. All are university graduates, all professed admiration for Finney, Hopkins, and Branagh. And, if the magazine is to be believed, the students have nothing but praise for their illustrious school. "Some of the teaching here is the finest in the world," declares Qarie Marshall. "I cherish that."

(RADA closes in July for a two-year re-building program involving the complete demolition of the Vanbrugh theatre. During this period, classes will be held at nearby Chenies Street, and performances will be given in rented theatres. The Gower Street premises are scheduled to reopen in the fall of 1999.)

SUB-SUB: Mountview Theatre School

In 1945 naval rating Peter Coxhead began organizing drama lessons and shows for demobilized troops in Ceylon. When he returned to the U.K. in 1947, he established a community drama group in a former girls' school in Crouch End, North London. This had developed into a drama school by the late 60s. The Crouch End building remains Mountview's head office. It is a bus ride from Finsbury Park tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: one hour. Other Mountview premises in nearby Wood Green are the Ralph Richardson Memorial Studios, opened in 1987, and the Sir Cameron Mackintosh Studios, opened in 1996. These buildings are a short walk from Wood Green tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: 45 minutes. Further expansion is planned. Write: The Admissions Secretary, 104 Crouch Hill, London N8 9EA.

I put it to Peter Coxhead, founder of Mountview and now its chief executive, that the school's Acting and Musical Theatre Course is one of the best in the U.K. "I think it's known to be the best," he corrects me. The course has grown in prestige over the past 10 years and now supplies the West End with a stream of new talent--not just chorus members but principals, too. American Corey Skaggs went straight into "Sunset Boulevard" with Petula Clark. Skaggs says that what he particularly liked about Mountview was the variety of teaching styles. "What I got from that," he says, "is the different ways you can adjust to the director to try and get the desired effect."

Coxhead reveals more about this approach. "We're often asked what method we use," he begins. "The answer is that we have a range of teachers from different backgrounds: Brecht, Grotowski, Stanislavsky. The student keeps a log in order to build his own method. He has to be adaptable. When he finds work, he may have to follow a martinet director or a free-wheeling experimenter who says, 'Let's see what you can do.' We're all different, and to say that you should rely on one approach is nonsense."

Although he has always encouraged American enrollment, Coxhead has become an active promoter abroad for his school only during the past five years. He is just back from Chicago, where Mountview was one of 25 schools that took over a hotel for auditions. "They came in their hundreds," he says with delight. At the Thespian Festival in Lincoln, Nebraska, he saw 2,000 auditionees in one week. One of them, Joshua Dallas, is the most exciting discovery Coxhead has made in many years. He immediately arranged for a wealthy friend to sponsor Dallas' Mountview training.

Currently Americans constitute 8-10% of the student body at Mountview--a high percentage, but not the highest. (London Academy of Performing Arts has 20%.) "They love it here," Coxhead enthuses. "The vast majority expresses a passionate desire to remain in the U.K. For one thing there is a quality of theatre here you won't see anywhere else in the world. We have to warn them that they must go back unless they have dual nationality. They should have no difficulty working in America. English training carries a great deal of weight. It immediately says that the actor has a certain technique."

Is there anything that Americans find it hard to come to terms with? "The disciplines are very different in the two countries," Coxhead confesses. "There is a free-and-easy attitude in America and it comes as quite a shock for a student to find that if he's a minute late for the morning class, he's not allowed in for the rest of the day. We're training people for a very disciplined profession. If you arrive after your director, you've lost your job."

SUB-SUB: The Poor School

The Poor School was created from derelict commercial buildings in Kings Cross, North London, in 1986. An adjoining theatre, formerly a bicycle shop, opened in 1993. The school is a three-minute walk from Kings Cross tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: 20 minutes. Write: Paul Caister, The Poor School, 242 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JY.

Why is The Poor School different from other drama schools? "It isn't," claims Founder-Director Paul Caister. But, while it's true that Caister's avowed intent (to "be a good school" and to "train actors who work") is hardly a radical departure from conventional practice, his school is as far from the pomp and tradition of RADA as it's possible to imagine. Situated amidst the burger bars and porno stores of Pentonville Road (London's answer to New York's Eighth Avenue), The Poor School has few outward pretensions. "It's less expensive and certainly less palatial," admits Caister.

First-year students work Monday-Thursday evenings and on Sundays, thus allowing them to keep day jobs. Second-year students must be prepared to commit to the course full-time. The course attracts all-comers, from professionals to "people who are in jobs to get by and people who are cagey about exactly what they do." The prospectus boasts that "we have offered many places to applicants with no experience whatsoever."

The course isn't accredited and isn't likely to be. Caister doesn't see eye to eye with the National Council for Drama Training. Last year he criticized the Council for failing to publish statistics showing how many graduates from accredited schools find acting work. From his own research, Caister reckons that Poor School graduates are more successful than those from most of the accredited schools. "We are expected to believe that the N.C.D.T. is a good thing in the absence of any evidence," he wrote in The Stage.

Caister disliked his own years as a drama student. "Recently I went back to the Bristol Old Vic, where I trained, and I found the place filled with eager starlets," he says with disdain. "I think anyone behaving like that here would be laughed at." The Poor School has three basic disciplines, he elaborates: "Turn up on time, come in even when you're ill, and do the work asked of you. Providing they're met, we have a giggle."

Today Caister seems more determined than ever to bait the establishment. He has just appointed to his staff Sharon Hamper, whose talent agency crashed last year with debts of more than £750,000. Part of Hamper's job, declares The Poor School's press release, will be "to identify the commercial possibilities of individual students." It concludes, "It is an appointment we are exceptionally lucky to have made."

Despite Caister's unorthodox approach, The Poor School does produce results. In 1990 a BBC documentary about the school showed graduate Paul McNeilly walking straight into a job on a TV commercial. Subsequently Caister was inundated with enquiries. More recently several graduates have been snapped up for the top-rated soap "EastEnders." Caister no longer feels obliged to give The Poor School a hard sell. "Somebody who's interested should find out as much as possible about schools in general, see the shows, experience the audition process," he suggests. "We have a good record of people choosing us when they have a choice."

SUB-SUB: Drama Studio London

Founded in Wandsworth, South London, in 1966, DSL moved to a large house in the West London suburb of Ealing in 1969. A theatre, constructed at the back of the building, opened in 1995. DSL is a short walk from Ealing Broadway tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: about 30 minutes. Write: Elinor Hilton, Drama Studio London, Grange Court, 1 Grange Road, London W5 5QN.

Peter Layton, former actor, now executive director of Drama Studio London, comes across as both genial and erudite, a rare combination, as he explains why he opened his drama school in 1966. At that time, he claims, London's great drama schools--RADA, LAMDA, the Central, and Webber Douglas--were run by diehards who had spent 30 years in the classroom. Layton had conceived a new kind of school geared to the realities of the profession, and specifically to the problem of finding work.

Right from the start, a lot of interest came from the States. Americans liked DSL's one-year course. They would take a year out from their academic courses at Antioch and New York University and immerse themselves in "intensive practical instruction." Americans admired the British films of the period, a lot of social realism with understated yet technically sound performances. "It made a refreshing change from mumbling," Layton observes--referring, needless to say, to the Method. "You can't do Shakespeare in Method," Layton elaborates. "You can't add 'umms' and 'errs' to iambic pentameter."

Layton first toured the U.S., looking for students, in 1976, and eventually made so many American connections that, from 1980 to 1988, he ran an American branch of DSL at Berkeley, Calif. Five hundred students, including Forest Whitaker, learned the DSL approach until the worsening economy sent Layton back to London. But he has maintained strong ties with the U.S. Students can be auditioned in Chicago, New York, in the South, the Mid-West, and on the West Coast. A preparatory term, beginning in July, is designed specifically to acclimatize foreign students, who are then joined by the natives in September.

Students receive an all-round training. "They have to be able to conduct themselves in a whole range of plays," states Layton. (The range even includes English pantomime.) Because of his commitment to his original vision, there are also classes in television technique. Layton marvels at the news that one American student recently earned more from a General Electric commercial than most actors will earn from theatre in their entire lifetimes.

At the end of their course, before they are returned to the real world, students receive advice on how to maximize their potential. "Personally I feel there's no point in a British-trained American actor competing with every taxi driver in New York," Layton declares. He asks students to consider other locations, for example a theatre-friendly city like Seattle, and also deals with such concerns as which union to join and when.

During a break from a typically strenuous class, some of this year's American students breathlessly try to marshal their thoughts about what they've learned so far. Matthew Gray, 26, was born in Dallas, Tex., then moved to Chicago. "I worked at Second City and I had great training at Columbia University, but that was nowhere near as intense as this," he admits. "There's so much to learn. But it's not like I'm drowning. I've never felt I've been in love with the art form before."

Melissa Riemer, 43, also from Chicago, agrees. "You feel like you've gone through a transformation," she adds. She, her husband, and two children are now British residents.

Kimiko Shimoda, 24, from Flint, Mich., previously did a theatre studies course at the University of Michigan. "Here it's much more specific about how to apply Stanislavsky to characters, much more in depth," she says. "It's a great course." She plans to base herself in Seattle. "Americans see any foreign training as a bonus," she claims. "My resume will make them stop and think."

SUB-SUB: Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art

The Webber Douglas School of Singing was opened in 1926 in a row of Georgian houses in Kensington, South West London, which the Academy still occupies. It is a five-minute walk from South Kensington tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: about 10 minutes. Write: Academy Secretary, Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, 30 Clareville Street, London SW7 5AP.

This distinguished drama school, known to generations of its students as Webber D. (and, to some, apparently, as Rubber Ducklas!), traces its roots to a school established at the venerable Theatre Royal, Margate, in 1882. Alumna Ellen O'Malley moved to Webber Douglas in 1929. O'Malley developed Webber D.'s dramatic program which, by the end of World War II, had gained prominence over the singing classes.

The Academy has turned out actors notable for their individuality, but has had conspicuous success in producing the kind of British actor Hollywood likes: Stewart Granger, Angela Lansbury, and Patrick Macnee in the early years, then Terence Stamp and Samantha Eggar, and most recently Julia Ormond and Minnie Driver.

Raphael Jago has worked at Webber D. since 1957 and has been its principal since 1966. He also helped prepare the report which led to the setting up in 1976 of the National Council for Drama Training, which he still chairs. He has family connections with the U.S. (his daughter, Alexandra, who trained at Webber D., is now in Hollywood) and has held regular auditions in New York for as long as he can remember. Last year he began auditioning in Los Angeles.

The competition for places is fierce. Jago sees only 30 to 35 American applicants each year and recalls perhaps five or six. Describing the training as "totally non-Method," he explains, "There's a lot more working from the outside in than the inside out. In America perhaps you'll take 25% from the writing, and the rest has to come from you. Here we're always concentrating on the form, the shape, and the rhythm of the text, and you're adding to it."

Although its work centers on classical theatre, Webber D. gradually has altered its approach in keeping with the demands of the industry. "Castability is as important as ability," is a favorite Jago maxim. He agrees with one of his voice teachers, who encourages American students to hone their standard American before tackling standard English. "We spend a tremendous amount of time identifying the strongest element of someone's personality and tying it up with their look," Jago continues. "We recognize the values that underline the industry. Obviously it's now more likely that a student's first job is going to be on TV, not in the theatre."

Jago admits that Americans can find it difficult adapting to the change of environment. "Yes, they get ill," he confirms, "Colds, all that caper." He implies that Americans with no experience of the British way of life would profit from more preparation. "Our two cultures seem so intermingled that Americans are surprised at the differences that are still here," he says. "We know a lot about American culture. Americans know much less about modern British culture."

But the biggest shock, he warns, is the cost of living: "London is one of the most expensive cities in the world. It'll cost much more than you ever thought. You should add 30% to your budget." Jago goes on to recount the tale of an American student, due to enroll at Webber D., who was held up at the airport because the authorities suspected he lacked the funds to support a two-year stay in the U.K. Only the intervention of the Academy's lawyers prevented the boy from being put on the next plane out of the country.

SUB-SUB: London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA)

The London Academy of Music was founded in 1861. Elocution lessons appear to have been introduced shortly afterwards, thus making this the oldest drama school in the English-speaking world. It was renamed LAMDA in 1938. Since 1945 it has been based in a house in Earls Court, South West London. The nearby MacOwan theatre opened in 1963. The buildings are a five-minute walk from Earls Court tube station. Traveling time to the center of London: 20 minutes. Write: The Admissions Secretary, LAMDA, Tower House, 226 Cromwell Road, London SW5 0SR.

The U.K.'s second-most-celebrated drama school is a far less awe-inspiring place than RADA--a virtue, perhaps. At LAMDA there is no great staircase embellished with busts of theatrical luminaries and scrolls of honor. It is far less apparent that the school enjoys royal patronage from HRH Princess Alexandra, and has the longest history in the U.K. of producing solid, dependable actors. David Suchet, Janet Suzman, Brian Cox, and Toby Stephens all went here.

It is also famed for its One Year Classical Acting Course, established specifically (in 1956 following a request from the Fulbright Commission) for overseas students. Throughout the 1960s and 70s this course was dominated by Americans. More recently it has been discovered by British students. The competition for places is now far more intense, but LAMDA retains a genuine desire to encourage American interest and assist successful applicants. There are still 20 to 25 North Americans in the course every year. "It's a very good deal," says Principal Peter James. "It's not unusual to pay $25,000 for a year's tuition in the States. It's cheaper to come here, even after you've paid the fare and living expenses."

James enlarges on the efforts made to help foreign students over their initial nervousness. "A week before term starts," he reveals, "we have an initiation, bonding exercises with the new students in the Three Year Course and the Stage Management Course. They're just silly, touchy-feely games to make people feel more united. The most important thing is to make the actors aware of an environment in which they can take risks without damage. Our Admissions Secretary is a fund of information on where to find local things. Tony [Sprackling], our administrator, helps with banking business, and there's a bursary fund for students in financial trouble. There's no reason for anyone to get into accommodation or money problems because there's someone they can go to."

The course is encapsulated by James as "classical training with an eye to the modern industry." He adds, "I'd like to think that an encounter with a LAMDA teacher comprises the teacher accepting the student as a human being and making decisions about what is trainable, and the student accepting his judgment and being flexible and willing to be trained."

The roots of the training lie in Stanislavsky and Michel Saint-Denis' Old Vic school, with a heavy Alexander influence. Students tackle not only Elizabethan, Jacobean and Restoration drama, and Russian naturalism, but also, for example, flamenco and historical dance. "Why?" is the question James is often asked. "Not because we want students to go away with a bunch of pavans in their repertoire," James reveals, "but because it's a different kind of physical focus."

At the moment LAMDA is specifically addressing the needs of the American industry. The school has made enquiries about renting a space in New York next year to stage a showcase for its American students. One problem, however, is unlikely to be rectified. Two or three students every year want to stay in the U.K. "It soon becomes clear to them that they can't," says James. "Students used to find someone to marry, but this is now very dangerous. The authorities came down on that five or six years ago. We don't recommend it."

Perhaps the finest tribute to The British Alternative is that a substantial percentage of those who opt for it don't want any other.

David McGillivray produces, directs, writes, and performs for radio, stage, and screen. He is the editor of McGillivray's Theatre Guide, and author of Back Stage's monthly "London Calling" column.

Those seeking further information about studying drama in the U.K. may contact David by mail c/o Back Stage (1515 Broadway, New York City, NY 10036), or via Carrollfan

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