Part-time courses can be particularly helpful for school-leavers who are interested in an acting career but need to be absolutely sure before going down the full-time route. A summer school or evening class can be the experience that clinches the decision either way. And if it turns out not to be for you, a part-time course is a much cheaper way of finding out than starting full-time training and then realising you’ve made a mistake.
Ongoing part-time training can help actors keep their acting muscles warm. Nobody learns everything they need to know for a whole career in three years at drama school. Some things may not be covered, while there are others in which the actor might become interested only later.
The industry’s needs change continuously too. At the moment, actor-musicians and those with puppetry skills are in high demand but those who trained some years ago may have had to acquire these skills along the way because they didn’t used to be taught much in the schools and colleges. In another 10 years, it is quite possible that something else, not yet anticipated by drama schools, will be in vogue.
Yet actors are human beings. Their instrument is themselves and their lives, both of which change all the time. Professional development in the form of part-time top-up training helps actors to adapt the way they work.
The UK tends to have a culture of regarding three years of training as the be-all and end-all of learning to be an actor. It’s different in the US, where working actors frequently continue to take classes or one-to-one tuition. Perhaps we need to change our mindset. An actor should be constantly curious about his or her self and the surrounding world. Part-time training can often give an actor the best chance to explore both.
Part-time training is also a useful alternative for actors at the beginning of their career who can’t afford to embark on full-time courses. The performing arts can be expensive to get involved in – the cost of headshots, Equity membership, subscriptions to casting sites and audition travel all add up.
Training part-time can give actors the space they need in their lives to live, work and further their acting career at the same time. It is available to more people who, for whatever reason, cannot access or commit to a full-time course.