I’ve been talking to Brian Timoney whose training organisation, The Brian Timoney Actors’ Studio in north London, expanded this term to offer a one-year, part-time course in Method Acting a la Lee Strasberg and co. (cost: £ 9,775).
“We are trying to offer something different,” he tells me, “by being a boutique drama school focusing entirely on Method Acting as opposed to the big schools which take the portfolio approach. Method Acting is one small part of what they do.”
He also feels strongly that every drama student should be taught to manage him or herself as a business. “We bring in marketing experts and casting directors to teach these skills,” he says, adding that potential actors are creative people by definition and they need to learn to use some of that creativity to sell themselves to the industry.
Until this year Timoney’s school offered only short, intensive courses with the option to re-attend and actors such as Jamie Roberts and Freya Parker passed through these. He still runs three-day ‘boot camps’ in Method Acting (cost: £495). Students are beginning to use these as tasters to help them decide whether or not to commit themselves to the year-long, part-time course which runs mainly at weekends with other ad hoc sessions. The part-time includes a week in Los Angeles training both in Method Acting and in business management for actors, the cost of which is included in the fee.
So who teaches the students, week by week, back in London? Timoney himself does some, of course, and he has four other teachers working with him. “We audition our teachers before we take them on which I think is probably fairly unusual,” Timoney tells me. “But we have to be sure the people we are employing really do know and understand the Method. All our teachers are working professionally elsewhere as well.”
I can’t help wondering how much notice the industry is likely to take of a small, non-accredited school which restricts itself to one way of working, but Timoney seems sure of his ground. “The Method is used by most successful actors, including many Hollywood stars, and we believe it meets the needs of the modern industry in a way that some traditional ways of working no longer do,” he says.
There are places for 20 students who are recruited twice-yearly in groups of 10 and this year the school has its full complement. Students do a showcase at the Groucho club to which casting directors and agents are invited. They are also trained in film techniques and produce a showreel.
£9,775 in tuition fees seems a lot to find given that students have to be self-funding, although the part-time nature of the course is such that participants can, of course, work at the same time to pay the fees and keep themselves.
On the other hand, if the course is as effective as Timoney says it is and its ‘graduates’ get work at the end of it (and these are two big ‘ifs’) then it is cheaper than three years in drama school with annual fees of over £3,000 and three years’ keep to pay for too.
But wouldn’t you have to be unusually confident in your own talent and the efficacy of the Method to put all your eggs in one training basket as Timoney advocates? Let’s hear your thoughts and experiences, please.