I have always been against foundation acting courses. Most of them are needlessly expensive. Short at 20 or so weeks. And simply do not offer the full experience of drama school, but a chance to pay above average fees to be a tourist within the college. They seem like a way to squeeze money out of people by giving them that ‘tourist’ experience.
That was until I saw why they were needed. There are a lot of people with some raw desire, commitment and ability to be a professional actor. But they have little or no experience of acting, and little or no experience of what actor training actually is. They watch movies, they might go to the theatre, they almost certainly don’t read plays. And then they enter a training environment with a desire to act. But they are missing almost every bit of experience they need to succeed.
Because that’s what a foundation acting course is. It’s the chance to gain the skills, knowledge and experience on a fundamental level. Most people will not get into drama school, that’s just statistics. Those that do often undertake a period of real growth and development before they get in. Most of the students that I know who received an offer on their second, third or fifth attempt, did so because they worked to become the kind of actor that drama schools accept.
Most applicants don’t know how to do that for themselves. A foundation course does not guarantee that the student will go on to further training, but it does give them the chance to see for themselves what professional training is like, and if they are suited to each other.
These days more people than ever want to try acting. To me, a foundation course is a way to dip your toe in the water before committing to a career that at best isn’t the most stable and is obviously highly competitive. Liking the idea of something is not the same as being able to do it. A foundation acting course gives you that opportunity to see for yourself. To learn about yourself and learn about the craft of acting and performance.
We’ve started a unique foundation acting course at Acting Coach Scotland. It’s a chance to develop skills, knowledge and experience before making the bigger step to the level of training where 1.1% of applicants receive a place.
Mark Westbrook is the Head of Acting at Acting Coach Scotland