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MA Acting - Classical

Course Description


The MA Acting is an intensive one-year, advanced level conservatoire acting course. In keeping with Central’s tradition of innovation in actor training, it offers two specialist strands taught over an extended 42 weeks, with up to 35 hours per week of classes, rehearsals, seminars and tutorials. Successful applicants will be offered a place on one of the two strands.


The Classical strand follows the development of the theatrical art from its earliest ritual roots to the birth of naturalism:
> Greek Tragedy, Chorus and the Neutral Mask
> Clowning and Commedia dell’arte
> Shakespeare and the English Renaissance
> Stanislavski, the Method and ‘Realist’ Theatre.

The Classical strand draws on the hugely influential theories and techniques of the great French acting teacher Michel Saint-Denis, training the expressive body, voice and imagination. Working with some of the greatest dramatic texts ever written, students are asked to consider what they mean now, and how their 21st century reinterpretation and re-imagining still holds a ‘mirror up to nature’. Students are encouraged to understand the demands of both art and craft, as participants in, and practitioners of, the western theatrical tradition, through a course structure that examines, in chronological order, four key periods of innovation and transition.


The Contemporary strand addresses the actor’s relationship with the writer, from Early Modern times to the present day through the exploration of:
> Shakespeare and his legacy
> Chekhov, Stanislavski and the birth of naturalism
> the actor and 20th century playwriting
> new writing and the development of new work.

The Contemporary strand combines teaching in practical voice, movement and acting techniques with an exploration of some of the key playwrights that have helped forge the canon of Western theatre, from the Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists to Chekhov and from Beckett to Kane. Uniquely, it explores the relationship between the two artists at the core of much Western theatre: the actor and the writer.
From Shakespeare and the King’s Men to the work of modern day producing houses, plays are frequently developed in collaboration between actors and writers, sometimes directly and sometimes mediated by a director. Students are encouraged to explore their role as creative artists in relation to writers and the written word. Throughout the course you will have the chance to work with, and alongside, writers on plays in development, both the next generation of playwrights on the MA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media, and established playwrights with a track record of produced plays.


All staff are well connected to industry. In the past few years, students have participated in a research symposium and worked on the stage
of Shakespeare’s Globe, performed at the Brighton Festival, made a film with Sir Donald Sinden at the Garrick Club, taken part in workshops with Hannah Miller (Head of Casting, Royal Shakespeare Company) and attended public lectures by Judi Dench, Vanessa
Redgrave, Michael Boyd and Declan Donnellan. Students from Canada and the USA have participated in the Conference of Drama Schools
Showcase in New York and LA, and all students participate in Central’s MA Acting showcase.


Through a combination of practical and written assessments, including a Sustained Independent Project and research presentation.

Visit the MA Acting - Classical page on the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama website for more details!

(Student Profile)

George Kemp

Why did you decide to study at Central?

A friend of mine was auditioning and asked me if I might come along and audition with her that week to keep her company. I begrudgingly agreed and trudged along unprepared to Sydney Dance Company to audition for a school I, in all honesty, had heard of but didn’t know much about. As luck would have it, I somehow got in. And what a wonderful path it was! After researching the school more I knew it was somewhere I had to go and so I embarked on the money-hunt to study overseas. Having been a Shakesepeare-o-phile since 7th grade, I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to study acting in the motherland – and follow alumni such as Olivier, Dench, Redgrave…and French and Saunders!

What is your educational/training background?
I went to high school in Sydney and completed year 12 in 2005. I then went Charles Sturt University in Bathurst which is about 3 hours west of Sydney. I completed a Bachelor of Arts - Communication. It was the most wonderful theatre degree - a great three years of experiments, failures, successes and beers. I acted, wrote, directed and stage managed.

What was the best part of the course for you?

Firstly, the focus of the study. After such a broad undergraduate degree, it was exhilarating to be so fully immersed in acting. The fact that the Masters degree is one year instead of three was perfect for me to hone my skills in exactly the manner that I was hoping to.
Secondly, as I mentioned before, the international nature of the school was such a highlight for me. In my course of 16, half were from outside the UK with actors from Australia, Greece, America, Canada, Lebanon and Egypt! It was so exciting to witness the different approaches to the craft both practically and culturally and this cultural hot pot lent itself to such a rich learning environment.
And thirdly, the teachers. The staff at Central create such a beautiful teaching environment. It’s constructive rather than destructive – none of this ‘break you down to build you back up’ business, but a real focus on the student and the ensemble. They focus on the actor who turns up and help create, with their immense knowledge and skill, an actor who comes out the other side transformed and thoughtful and hard working.


Embassy Postgraduate Scholarships - No. of awards TBC

The combined awards add up to a total of £100,000 in available support ranging across both Open Awards and Postgraduate Support Scheme Awards. Open Awards will range in value between £2,000 and £5,000 each, and Postgraduate Support Scheme Awards will be allocated in the amount of £10,000 each.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Between £2,000 and £5,000 each


Home/EU/Overseas – Open Awards, Home/EU* – Postgraduate Support Scheme (must have been a £9,000 tuition fee payer for an undergraduate degree at a UK institution).

Application Procedure

Students interested in applying for an Embassy Postgraduate Scholarship must be holding an offer for an MA/MFA course by the deadline of 27 May 2016. All students holding offers by this date will be invited to apply for the Embassy Postgraduate Scholarships and will be sent an application form together with guidance notes.Criteria for the awards are based on a combination of merit (promise/ability shown in application form and at audition/interview) and hardship.For full information about eligibility criteria for these awards, please contact Central’s admissions office at [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

Applicants will normally have either undertaken conservatoire training, have professional acting experience or have a degree in the broad field of performance and drama studies. Students from other disciplines may be considered if you have sufficient experience of theatre. An offer will normally only be made after audition and interview, and you may also be required to take part in a short practical workshop and/or submit a short piece of written work.

Last Updated

13 October 2016

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