The Poor School Review

I was lucky enough to attend the Four Day course at Paul Caister’s The Poor School acting academy in Kings Cross this week.

The four day course is billed as a slimmed-down (but not dumbed down) version of the full two-year course, and I wanted to offer some reflections while the experience was fresh in my mind.

The cohort that I was in had 13 people aged from 17-50 with varying levels of acting experience.

Some initial reflections:

  • The four-day course does fully take over your life for the week you do it. Because of the demands of learning a piece of Shakespeare and a scene from a play in a week (to be performed before the other students at the end of the week), there isn’t really much time to do anything else outside the school. Bear that in mind so you can be fully committed on the week you do the course.
  • You are treated in much the same way a student would be. If your work isn’t up to scratch, you’ll get called out (in a nice way!) about it. This is really helpful for identifying weak spots in your game.
  • Because of the intensity of the course, you form some very close bonds with the students on the course. I felt like I knew everyone on the course a lot better at the end of the week, and there was an atmosphere of mutual encouragement throughout.
  • Although there is a heavy emphasis on Voice, Movement, Musical Theatre (a lot of fun!) through the course, there isn’t much in the way of formal acting training. I felt like there could have been more time spent going over content of the scenes – there was a lot of independent learning, and personally I would have benefitted from a little more guidance. Your mileage may vary though.
  • You learn a lot about yourself from doing the course. There are numerous learning areas for me that the course exposed, which I’ll now go and explore in more detail elsewhere. This was the biggest takeaway from the course for me.
  • Although you can treat the four day course as an audition for the two-year course, be realistic in your aspirations here. To get onto the course, you will require a significant amount of natural talent or ideally some kind of drama experience. I felt that I’d perhaps have been a little more relaxed throughout the course if I hadn’t been treating it as an audition for part of it.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend giving the course a go if you are considering a career in acting, or if you want a break from your day job for a week! At £295, the course is good value too.

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