What makes a great acting school? The question has different answers for different people.

For some, it’s about the experience.

If you’re joining an acting school for personal growth, to improve self-confidence, or develop your ability to stand up and speak in front of others, you’re really there to explore yourself and your potential through dramatic art. So for you, it might be about connecting to others, creativity and enjoyment. In this instance, you’re looking for a supportive atmosphere – teachers who’ll help you rather than criticize you, and a safe space to try new things.

For others, it’s about career.

If you are career-focused, in that you want a career in acting or a related field, it’ll be about content. You want to be sure that you have all you need to get started as an actor. You’ll want to learn technique. You’ll want to become comfortable in front of the camera or on stage. You’ll want to learn skills like learning lines. And you’ll be focused on getting acting jobs around Australia – how to find them, how to audition, and how to win the best roles.

Often people think you have to go to NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art) to become a successful career actor – because that’s the only acting school they’ve heard of. It’s true that this is Australia’s oldest and most prestigious acting school, and it has delivered many successful actors to industry, like Cate Blanchett, Mel Gibson, Richard Roxburgh, Hugo Weaving and others. But the truth is, there are many people now working in the industry who went to other schools and successfully built a career. You only need to attend an industry networking event and chat to some other actors to discover this.

Other well-known schools include WAAPA (West Australian Academy of Performing Arts) and VCA (Victorian College of the Arts).

With these big acting schools, you usually complete a Bachelor degree in acting. They’re difficult to get into – you have to audition to get in, possibly move your life interstate, find a job to support yourself there, as well as committing for duration of the course, which may be three years. With courses like those at NIDA, rumour has it that they accept 25 people each year out of around 2,500 who apply. Not only that, many people don’t actually make it through the course, even though they managed to get in. Dropouts from these big schools are plentiful. So an acceptance letter is not a sure-fire way to become a successful actor.

But if you don’t have opportunity to go to those schools, it doesn’t mean that you can’t build a career as an actor. Training is just the first step. If university is not your thing, a vocational qualification like those offered by Perform Australia will be more your style. You learn the practical skills of the actor quicker, as the courses are usually shorter, without the need to write lengthy academic essays that are often demanded at university level.

So for you, the best acting school may just be around the corner. The best acting school may in fact be unique to you, and your personal needs and goals. It may well be Perform Australia. Check out our faculty here and our qualifications here.

About the Author

Elizabeth Avery Scott is the co-founder and CEO of Perform Australia. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Mass Communications) from Macquarie University, a Master of Arts Practice (Scriptwriting) from Charles Sturt University, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, and a Graduate Diploma of Relationships Counselling among other qualifications.