Drama school is expensive, so if you decide to go, you’ll be wanting to know whether or not it’s worth your time.
There’s not really a straightforward answer to this question.
Some actors will rave about their experience in drama school, others speak of the toxic environment, while some of the best actors in Hollywood didn’t attend at all.
Above all, drama school is great for practice. You learn to perform in front of other people, which helps build your confidence. You’re also surrounded by other aspiring actors, so you can learn from your peers and become exposed to many different kinds of people.
You also get to attend showcases and take part in regular shows. The more you perform, the more you evolve as an actor. Plus, many actors say that drama school is a great opportunity to make links with the industry and establish connections that can help you when you graduate.
There’s also value in the technical training that drama school offers.
This is something actor Laura Donnelly stresses: “The work I received in that college, particularly the technical training in terms of voice and movement, was invaluable.” she says.
“I find myself drawing on that in every single job I do, whether that’s stage work or screen work. To really know the technical sides of your craft, particularly for stage actors, is just so important because it really helps you release a character.”
However, others will disagree that drama school is necessary, and for every actor who says it’s worth it, another will dismiss it.
Some people use the simple argument that you can either act or you can’t act. There’s certainly some truth to this, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to be a better actor and hone your craft.
Joe Mazzello of “Bohemian Rhapsody” argues that the best education he
got “was on movie sets.” Of course, you have to get onto movie sets in the first place, but it’s true that learning how a set works, the different roles of the crew, and getting to work with a range of talented actors certainly allows you to evolve as an actor.
Others will simply say that drama school can be competitive and negative, but again, this depends on where you go and how you respond to college in general - some people will thrive, while others won’t.
This is why some actors chose to study a different subject to drama as a way to enjoy college life without the pressure of trying to make it in Hollywood while all your friends are out enjoying themselves.
Actor Sheila Vand says college gave her a chance to become herself: “The more in touch you become with yourself, the more you have to give to your acting,” she says. “Don’t think it’s all technique and classes and meetings. It’s not.”
You also have the option of taking on acting classes or courses alongside your other college course, or alongside a job. Even acting classes with an amateur group can provide you with great experience.
Plus, going to drama school isn’t the only way to hone your acting skills. Books, YouTube, and simply practicing in your own time can certainly help you progress without having to put yourself in thousands of dollars of debt.
Is drama school a waste of time?
Nothing is a waste of time if you make the most of the opportunity. The only issue with drama school - and college in general - is the hefty price tag.
So it’s not that drama school is a waste of time, because it isn’t - you’ll learn technical skills, build a network of friends and fellow actors, and will get to perform frequently - it’s more so whether it’s value for money.
The truth is, drama school isn’t 100% necessary. So if you can’t afford to go, you shouldn’t feel like this is a barrier to you becoming an actor. Many great actors didn’t go to drama school, from Johnny Depp to Brad Pitt to Cameron Diaz.
However, drama school shouldn’t be dismissed as a ‘waste of time’ either. You’ll evolve as an actor if you go to drama school, in the same way that you’ll evolve as one if you take acting classes or act in a friend’s film, or join a community theatre group.
Drama school won’t be the golden ticket to your acting career - you’ll still have to work equally hard afterward to land roles and auditions.
If you are considering drama school, be sure to apply to the best ones in your state or country. And, if you don’t get in? It doesn’t mean you can’t make it as an actor. Continue what you’re doing: work hard, learn new skills by reading or taking courses, watch films, read up on your favorite actors - and practice, practice, practice.