Been to drama school, got the certificate, training done and dusted, right? Wrong! For most actors, training and learning about the art of acting is a lifelong process. Most actors regard every role as a chance to learn and better themselves, but they also see keeping their talents up to date and well-exercised as a crucial part of their skillset. As the saying goes, use it or lose it.
Almost everybody has gaps between jobs and most actors fret about getting out of practice. So, developing as an actor, whether you’re being paid or not, seems like a no brainer. That might mean running lines with friends, filming a new audition piece, or for many of us, it means saying yes to more training, admitting we can always add more skills to our acting CV and crucially, embracing further professional development.
Topping up your training mid-career is a chance to look with new eyes at the career you love. Maybe you’ll learn methods that are new to you since you trained first time round like Viewpoints and Suzuki, or perhaps you’ll bring new life experiences to bear on a course you completed years ago. Whatever your motivation for signing up to more training, it’s likely to be a chance to renew your passion for acting.
With that thought in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best top-up acting classes available in London.
Based in venues across London, the City Academy specialises in the performing arts and runs lots of different types of acting classes, from advanced Method, Stanislavski, Meisner, and Augusto Boal classes to assorted screen acting, stage combat, Shakespeare, and voiceover training sessions. All the classes are taught by industry professionals, and the academy’s ambition is to fit around your working schedule so you can learn at lunchtime, weekends, and after work.
An interesting offering from the academy is its Resident Companies, which run alongside the classes to give students the chance to get involved with productions in a more hands-on manner. They’ve got a Musical Theatre Company, several theatre companies, and six choirs to get hands-on experience with. The academy regularly holds events in London’s premier venues including Sadler's Wells, the Dominion Theatre, and Soho Theatre.
How much does The City Academy cost?
There’s no membership fee – you just pay for each class as and when. To get some idea of price, a four-week Screen Acting course costs £1,995, though online tuition is also available.
Holborn’s City Lit is a London institution offering classes on a vast array of subjects. You may not be interested in their Data Analytics with Python or Trees of London modules, but there are plenty of acting courses which might be right up your street.
Short courses on subjects like Stanislavski, Laban, the Lecoq Method, the anatomy of the voice, and America’s popular Viewpoints technique are all on offer here, and City Lit, which bills itself as “where London learns” might be a good choice if you want a wide choice of classes at affordable prices.
One thing to think about is that students here are from all walks of life, so – unlike other places on this list – it’s likely you’ll be working alongside non-actors. The City Lit does have professional classes aimed at working actors such as sessions on the Alexander Technique and preparing for auditions, so if you’d rather stick to those then keep your eyes peeled, but many actors enjoy getting stuck in with a range of participants.
How much does City Lit cost?
Fees start at around £89, but it’s worth bearing in mind that’s for four two-hour sessions over four weeks. It’s also worth taking a look as to whether the course is online or in-person – City Lit do both.
Based in Central London, Actors Crib offers intensive classes designed both for beginners and experienced actors. The workshops are "pragmatic, no-nonsense sessions to help develop actors skills and confidence in an intimate setting".
Actors Crib centres on holistic styles including Stanislavski, Meisner, and The Method. It also offers would-be participants the chance to observe a session for just £12.
How much does Actors Crib cost?
One-to-one tuition is £70 per hour. Online classes aimed at experienced actors cost £30 for two hours. And in-person group training sessions, which run under the banner 'theatre deli', start at £35ph.
Unlike the other institutions on this list, 1970s institution The Cockpit Theatre is a venue rather than a provider, but it’s still worth checking out as it regularly holds classes in its Marylebone space. The Salon Collective seems to be the main organiser of classes, running Meisner sessions for actors with differing levels of experience of this method. If you’ve never heard of them, we’re sure you’ll be reassured that Miriam Margolyes is their patron. More generally, The Cockpit seems to have a fun, creative ethos aimed at actors and performing arty types, so it may well be worth checking out if you’re after like-minded people and a nice spot of networking.
How much does The Cockpit cost?
One-to-one sessions are £45 per hour, other classes vary.
Actors Studio was started in 2004 by former agent Tim Kent, and its base in Pinewood Studios might give you a clue as to its main interest when it comes to acting. Led by industry professionals, Actors Studio offers screen acting courses for reasonable prices: the one-day Screen Acting Workshop costs £75 and offers time with an experienced television or film director, as well as giving networking and business tips. If Pinewood seems too far away, they also offer a weekly acting course in central London which culminates with you getting a professionally shot showreel.
How much does Actors Studio cost?
The weekly acting course costs £750
Describing itself as London’s “boutique Drama School,” City Acting offers courses to actors of all levels. If you’ve already had some training or some acting jobs, they suggest the following courses: Intermediate’s Scene Work, Character Building, Voice & Communication Skills, and Monologue & Presentation workshops. They also run an Amateur Theatre course, where actors are directed as a theatre company over a ten-week course, with each student taking a role in a well-known play. The school is mainly based in Waterloo and has been going for eleven years.
How much does City Acting cost?
The eight-week Intermediate’s Scene Work course costs £195
Over in east London’s Brick Lane is the Actors Door Studio offering drop-in Meisner classes onwards. The drop-ins are on Saturday afternoons and offer two and a half hours of Meisner-based training. The Studio also offers courses on American accents, intensive scene study, and audition workshops – all for relatively good prices considering their central London location. Dialect coach Shaun Morton offers teaching over Skype if you’re in urgent need of some Received Pronunciation refresher time or any accent-coaching.
Actors Door Studio also has its own film production company, Angry Bee Films, founded by the studio’s director Fay Beck.
How much does Actors Door Studio cost?
The advanced screen acting course is £380. Online one on one coaching sessions start at £70.
Okay, so it’s not cheap but it is RADA. The Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, probably the UK’s most prestigious drama school, offers short classes – for a price. No audition is needed for its elements of RADA workshop, which each week covers individual subjects like voice, movement, contemporary text, classical text, and improvisation, all for £50 a pop. The classes run from 7pm to 9.30pm on Mondays and Wednesdays, and there are only 12 people in each group so you’re sure to get individual attention from a bona fide RADA teacher.
How much does RADA cost?
£25 per two-hour class.
This is one to keep your eye on as they regularly offer intensive acting workshops expressly for professionally trained and experienced actors. Techniques taught are drawn from “the great acting teachers of the world” – that means “Stanislavski through to Lee Strasberg, Uta Hagen, Sanford Meisner, and Stella Adler.” They won’t let just anyone in on these courses, but it’s based in the middle of Soho, so is very handy.
How much does the Giles Foreman Centre for Acting cost?
A Professional Actor Weekend with Giles Foreman costs £220. Email the centre for details.
Billing itself as "London's ultimate professional acting workshop", relative newcomer The Actors Yard (TAY) offers a straightforward and affordable series of drop-in top-up classes for actors. They are aimed at both recent graduates and more experienced professionals.
How much does The Actors Yard cost?
Each class is £30 and booked on a first-come, first-served basis each week. Recent graduates (within the past three years) can claim a 20 percent discount.
Ready to get to work? Check out Backstage’s London audition listings!