Stagecoach and RADA have created a new “vocational training preparation course” to start this September for 32 students. Intended for young people aged 16-19, it aims to help aspiring performers wanting to do vocational training in professional drama schools, musical theatre academies and universities.
It’s certainly an enticing idea — a part-time course which allows students to continue their academic studies or employment while gaining “triple threat” expertise in acting, singing and dancing. And the involvement of an elite conservatoire such as RADA gives it the kudos which part-time training for school students would not normally have.
The two-year course is to be taught by “experts in their fields” at weekends and via specialist workshops held at RADA and at Stagecoach’s head office at Walton-on-Thames. The idea is to enable young wannabes to keep their options open while they make up their minds what they really want to do in the future.
Each student is promised three hours of training per week, plus five intensive workshops during the holidays. The lesson time is to be dedicated to preparing students for examinations in teaching, and a final performance at a London theatre. Organisers seem to be confident that it will give these youngsters a real insight into professional training.
Of course the leaders of the two organisations are saying all the right things. Stephanie Manuel, joint MD of Stagecoach, said: “It has long been my ambition to offer a course that will extend students’ skills and prepare them to audition for drama school while they continue with their academic studies. The RADA Stagecoach course offers a solution to the FAQ of 16 year-olds and their parents ‘What now?’”
Edward Kemp, Director of RADA, added: “Every year more and more young people are applying to drama schools and drama courses. There is a growing number of training programmes and youth theatre opportunities for young people from the very earliest age to start to learn about performance and acting. RADA has joined together with Stagecoach, one of the leading providers of pre-vocational theatre teaching, to help to provide a more rigorous pathway for 16-18 year olds who may be considering applying for drama training or who just wish to take their interest in performance to a more advanced level.”
There are 22 schools in the Conference of Drama Schools and many good ones outside it. We also have several major, very successful providers of part-time training for children via franchised centres - although Stagecoach is the largest. Could this be the first of many such collaborations?