Postgraduate Training for Theatre Makers – Why Should I Do a Master’s Degree?
Whether you are approaching the end of an undergraduate degree and want to further explore the skills you have learned or are considering a complete career change into acting and theatre making, a postgraduate training course (or Master’s Degree) can be a great way to facilitate this!
A postgraduate degree is a great opportunity to dedicate more time to a specific area of training or interest, develop additional professional, practical and creative skills (such as project management, budgeting, and working collaboratively with others), enter the creative industry without a traditional arts background or existing undergraduate degree, or simply surround yourself with like-minded people with whom to connections to build a creative network for future projects.
To help anyone now thinking about their next step, check out our three reasons why a postgraduate degree could be the ideal choice!
Reason #1 – Explore & Develop Your Creative Skills
Postgraduate courses are an opportunity to delve deeply into a specific area of training or study, encouraging students to explore existing creative skills as well as helping them develop and evolve through this heightened focus.
For actors and theatre makers in particular, this in-depth focus makes a postgraduate degree a great way to explore the different aspects of their personal actors’ toolkit, as well as what helping them think about what really makes them “tick” as a creative and honing specific skills to help them stand out from the crowd and feel more confident in their abilities. Exploring and experimenting with creative skills and techniques through further training, rather than through the “trial and error” of professional work, means students still have support and guidance from practitioners and teachers – students will be encouraged to critique and reflect on their work and apply a professional attitude and approach in preparation for working within the industry upon graduating, with the security of being in a training environment to fall back on if necessary.
What is more, a postgraduate degree is an opportunity to explore new creative techniques and methods. If you always saw yourself as a performer when starting your training but found yourself gravitating towards devising, writing and directing or supporting your ensemble rather than seeking out the limelight, it could be beneficial to explore this through further training focused on the skills relevant to theatre making. This will build on your natural strengths and interests, help you gain a greater understanding of alternative routes into the creative industries graduating, and open you up to different ways of working and collaborating with other creatives as a theatre maker, as well as a performer.
Reason #2 – Embrace a Career Change
A postgraduate degree can be a great stepping stone for anyone contemplating a career change, particularly into an industry such as the creative arts – the training courses are typically shorter than undergraduate level degrees and courses (typically one year compared to two or three years), they provide a highly specific, in-depth level of professional guidance, and the training delivery itself is more likely to be offered on a flexible learning basis to allow students to more easily balance and accommodate training with existing family or professional commitments, for example through part-time rather than full-time delivery.
Learning new skills and being surrounded by like-minded creatives will help anyone in this position focus on their chosen new direction over the course of their training, as well as give them a chance to learn more about the different ways they can access a new sector and profession. It is also an opportunity to draw on previous work experience or education and the skills learned during this time to consider how they can put these to use in a new sector. For instance, if you always gravitated towards creating new work, building collaborative relationships and exploring different ways to share and deliver ideas in your previous career or sector, you might be ideally suited to researching and devising new pieces of creative work as a theatre maker, or to working collaboratively as part of an ensemble to challenge traditional ideas and think outside the box. In a nutshell, you will be building on existing practical knowledge and transferable skills, whilst equipping yourself with the new skills and awareness necessary to shift into a different sector.
What is more, postgraduate training is a fantastic means for anyone who might have an unconventional academic background or no undergraduate degree to gain a higher education qualification. Many drama schools, including Fourth Monkey, will consider your previous professional experience and your creative abilities as well as your academic record, either by asking you to complete a creative task as part of your application for an insight into what you are capable of or simply by assessing all applicants at audition only once they have submitted a straightforward application form. Plus, you will have an individual audition session in which you will perform your speeches and have an interview with the panel – this will be your opportunity to discuss your interest in the training, as well as why you are now thinking about a career change and how you intend to draw on your previous experience should you be offered a place.
(Image – The Fall, Experimental Fringe 2019, credit: Max Curtis)
Reason #3 – Develop New Creative Connections
Do you have a specific project or idea you would love to explore and evolve but are yet to find a suitable collaborator or partner for this? Have you been searching for a new network of like-minded creatives with which to share ideas and inspiration? Training on a postgraduate degree can be just the time and place to make these connections!
Thanks to their flexible delivery frameworks, in-depth exploration of a specific or niche subject area or creative discipline, and appeal to often more mature, experienced students or those looking for a career change, postgraduate training courses (especially within the arts) often attract students from a wide variety of backgrounds, making them an ideal environment in which to meet diverse creatives and form new partnerships and ensembles, diving into new and innovative ideas and inspirations as a result.
In turn, you will be supported by a teaching team made up of experienced, passionate experts whose job is encourage and enable new dynamic collaborations to form and share ideas, as well as introduce you to new ways of working. For instance, if you have chosen a theatre making-focused postgraduate degree, this might mean pairing talented writers with natural communicators and performers, looking out for dynamic workshop facilitators to collaborate with those who have a project ready to research and develop, or matching bold physical performers with those who are stronger vocally to let their respective talents and skillsets complement and support each other.
(Image – The Woman & The Canvas)
Did you know… here at the Monkey House, we offer the MA Collaborative Theatre training course – a unique postgraduate degree aimed at equipping students with the skills relevant to contemporary collaborative theatre making and intended to help form fledging theatre companies upon graduation.
Check out our “at a glance” guide to the MA Collaborative Theatre and how it can help theatre makers, courtesy of MA Co-creator, Director and Theatre Maker Alexandra Spencer-Jones – just click the button below!