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About this program

MA Acting: Classical

This course draws on the 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. Four key periods of innovation and transition in Western theatre are examined: Greek Tragedy, Clowning and Commedia dell’arte, Shakespeare and the English Renaissance and Stanislavski. Students are encouraged to understand the demands of both art and craft, as participants in, and practitioners of, these theatrical traditions.

Admission 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. Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test.

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Program content

In the first four-week intensive (September – October), the ensemble principle is nurtured through practical work on the chorus of ancient Greek tragedy (with examination of several different choric styles), neutral mask and intensive physical and vocal training. Accompanying seminars address Aristotelian theory of tragedy and the social and political discourses of ancient Greek drama. Regular voice and movement training continues throughout the course.

In the subsequent studio (October – December), practical classes in commedia dell’arte, character mask and clowning accompany work on the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries: you will work on narrative structure and storytelling, textual form, heightened realistic expression, character analysis, gesture and movement psychology, and the actor’s relationship to the audience and to space. Practical assessments, showings and critiques take place at the end of each studio, and individual personal guidance from tutors is available throughout the year. Stage fighting classes also take place in this term, leading to a basic stage combat qualification.

In the second studio (January – March), the course examines the revolution of the realist and expressionist theatres in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and their contemporary legacy. Underpinning classes are the theories on narrative and character of Stanislavski and his successors. You can choose to work on scenes from a range of realist, expressionist and proto-naturalist plays (such as those by Chekhov, Ibsen, Strindberg, Brecht, Büchner, Williams, O’Neill or Shaw). Period dance classes in this term examine a range of historical dances and hone your movement and gestural skills.


In the second intensive (March – April), you will rehearse and perform in a fully-supported production of a Shakespeare, Renaissance or other appropriate play, integrating your work-to-date, in chorus, clowning, acting and characterization, movement and voice.

In the third studio (April – June), training in specific acting, voice and movement methodologies continues, with a focus on bringing the classical tradition up-to-date and on the professional preparation of the students. In addition, screen acting classes help to prepare you for auditions for TV and film. During this term, you will also perform in an industry showcase at Central or a professional venue together with students from the Contemporary course.

In the final intensive (July – August), you will rehearse and perform in a fully-supported production of a play from the Western canon as a final summation of your practical work. Both productions will be chosen and cast to challenge and best represent the particular character of the cohort and the individual students. Throughout the practical training, you will work on a Sustained Independent Project (SIP) of written and/or performance enquiry, part of which may be presented as a solo performance.

After the final intensive (August – September), there is a writing-up period for the final stage of your SIP.


Full tuition for EU students 18882 GBP

Full tuition for Non-EU students 21413 GBP

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About this institute

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a small specialist institution of the theatrical and performing arts within the University of London. With a long history of educating and training leading practitioners and have extensive connections across the...

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The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

62-64 Eton Avenue
NW3 3HY London
United Kingdom

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