Director of National Youth Theatre Says “You don’t need to learn how to act, you need to learn how to sell yourself”


national-youth-theatre-logoPlenty of talented and famous actors never went to drama school, and I’m sure while some of them would recommend that people take acting classes others would recommend against it. 

But one person you wouldn’t expect to call acting schools a waste of money is the artistic director of a program that counts the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis, Helen MirrenBen Kingsley, Matt Smith, Rosamund Pike and Daniel Craig among its alumni.  But that’s exactly what Paul Roseby, who has been the artistic director of the National Youth Theatre (NYT) since 2004, is saying about drama school.

Roseby isn’t trying to put himself out of a job, but he feels there is too much focus on education in acting. He points out that while he feels acting training is important, there are other skills that actors need that are more crucial than a three-year formal education. He explains, “Drama schools are incredibly expensive and the majority of actors don’t need three years’ training. They need various modular courses every so often to go to. But they don’t need three years. You don’t need to learn how to act, you need to learn how to sell yourself. You can either act or you can’t.”

In Roseby’s view, one of the most important things an actor needs to learn is how to handle rejection, either from roles or from small programs like the NYT.  He elaborates, “The learning point is rejection. You have to learn the art of rejection as well as acceptance.”

Naturally, there are many who disagree with Roseby including his counterpart at the Royal Academy for Dramatic Art, Edward Kemp. Kemp argues that formal training is incredibly important and replies, “If Paul Roseby wishes to defend the arts from being seen as ‘soft skills’, it is strange that he chooses to attack precisely the institutions which have spent many decades bringing rigour and expertise to the training of actors and theatre technicians.  Student loans are available for all undergraduate courses, and drama schools are no more expensive than any other form of higher education.”

via The Independent

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