East 15 Acting School
East 15 is a British drama school in Loughton, Essex. The main Loughton campus occupies an 18th-century house, Hatfields, and has its own theatre, the Corbett, which is adjacent. The Corbett Theatre is an adaptation of a 15th-century barn. The re-building and equipping of the theatre was largely funded by the actor, and alumnus of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, Harry H. Corbett. Part of the school is located at Southend, and is centred on the Clifftown Studios.
East 15 Acting School was founded in 1961 by Margaret Walker. It grew from the work of Joan Littlewood's famed Theatre Workshop, and the school's name acknowledges its debt - Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop was based at the Theatre Royal, Stratford, London, whose postal district is E15.
Much of the Littlewood approach was based upon the theories of Konstantin Stanislavski, and the company inherited the socially committed spirit of the Unity Theatre movement, which brought many new voices into British theatre for the first time. Theatre Workshop broke new ground, re-interpreting the classics for a modern age, commissioning new plays from socially committed writers, and creating an ensemble capable of inventing new work, such as the now legendary "Oh, What a Lovely War!". Littlewood created an ensemble, who combined inspired, improvisational brilliance with method, technique, research, text analysis, and the expression of real emotions. Over the years, new training methods were evolved to strip actors of affectations, attitudes and ego trips. The quest was always to search for truth: of oneself, the character, the text.
From 1998-2006, the school was led by John Baraldi, former Chief Executive of Riverside Studios, London, who oversaw the development of many new courses and the rapid expansion of the school. Since 2007, East 15 Acting School has been run by Professor Leon Rubin (former Artistic Director of Bristol Old Vic, Watford Palace Theatre and Lyric Theatre, Belfast), who has further overseen the further expansion of the school. This has included the acquisition of a Victorian Gothic church in Southend-on Sea, now re-designed at a cost of some £6million as a performance and learning space, and renamed the Clifftown Studios.
East 15 Acting School occupies two campuses; Loughton and Southend on Sea. Courses taught at Loughton include BA Acting (NCDT accredited), BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre (NCDT accredited), BA Technical Theatre and Certificate of Higher Education in Performing Arts. The Loughton campus is also home to the postgraduate courses which include MA Acting, MA/MFA Acting (International), MA/MFA Filmmaking and MA/MFA Theatre Directing.
BA courses taught at Southend include Acting and Stage Combat (the only course of its kind in the world), Acting and Community Theatre, Physical Theatre and World Performance (also a completely unique course).
East 15 continues to commission new work. Many of the school's undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are accredited by the National Council for Drama Training. This means that the actors who graduate from this course are allowed automatic entry into Actors' Equity, the professional actors' union. With the first year providing more of an introduction to everything that gets built on later, work looks at acting, use of voice for drama and singing, and also various aspects of movement. The Living History at the end of this year allows students to live the lives of others from a specific moment in history. The second year looks deeper into the foundations constructed in Year 1, and also deals with challenging texts (including Shakespeare and Brecht). The third year not only increases students' repertoire in acting for TV, film and radio, but also holds a series of performances of a wide range of plays.
The school also runs a BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre course. This aims to offer training which will prepare actors for the challenges of new ways of working in the performance arts. The training relates in methodology to the work of contemporary companies such as Complicite, Improbable Theatre and Kneehigh.
Other undergraduate courses include; Acting and Community Theatre, Acting and Stage Combat, Physical Theatre and World Performance as well as Technical Theatre, which is based in its own dedicated studios and workshops at Unit Four, located next to the main Loughton campus buildings. Postgraduate courses include Acting, Directing and Filmmaking as well as the most recently opened course Acting (International) aimed at training actors and actresses from overseas.
Showcases for invited agents and casting directors in major West End theatres are held at the end of the graduate year for each of the courses.
East 15 has produced many actors, directors, teachers and designers. In Britain, theatre companies such as The Royal Court Theatre, Bush Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Manchester Library Theatre have been headed by East 15 graduates. Companies including Orchard Theatre, Bruvvers, Scarlet blade theatre, Lumiere and Son, Hull Truck Theatre, Spare Tyre, Footsbarn, Women’s Theatre Company and The Half Moon Theatre, in Stepney have been created by East 15 graduates. In 2010 East 15 launched yet another graduate company called 15 Degrees East Theatre Company which works under the guidance of East 15's director Professor Leon Rubin.
Accommodation for students
The East 15 Loughton campus is currently in the process of building a hall of residence for first year students.
The first of these is rentable houses or rooms. Students must contact local landlords and property owners, who may have rooms or whole houses to rent for a year. In some cases, groups of students may need to be formed before a landlord commits to an offer.
There is also the opportunity to board with host families. These are generally the cheaper option, in which a student can take up residence alongside the houseowner(s).
Students attending the Southend-on-Sea campus have a recently built halls of residence at their disposal.
Notable graduates from East 15 include:
- Peter Armitage
- Ben Carpenter
- April De Angelis
- Annette Badland
- Marcus Bentley
- Sian Breckin
- Marji Campi
- Ian Champion
- Susannah Corbett
- Phil Cornwell
- Stephen Daldry
- Janine Duvitski
- Ross Finbow
- Alan Ford
- Paul Garnault
- Robert Gwilym
- Blake Harrison
- Elizabeth Henstridge
- Kipper Kids (Martin Rochus Sebastian von Haselberg and Brian Routh)
- Kevin Lloyd
- John Lyons
- Saul Marron
- John McArdle
- Ann Mitchell
- Diane Morgan
- Billy Murray
- Derrick O'Connor
- Saverio Deodato
- Jenny Platt
- Adam Randall
- Reece Ritchie
- Garry Roost
- George Rossi
- Chris Ryan
- Tony Scannell
- Ruth Sheen
- Marlene Sidaway
- Alison Steadman
- Gwen Taylor
- Oliver Tobias
- Steven Waddington
- Marc Warren
- Clive Wedderburn
- Kate Williams
- David Yip
- "Conference of Drama Schools - East 15 Acting School" Retrieved 26 May 2008
- "East 15 Acting School: University of Essex" Retrieved 26 May 2008
- "East 15 Acting School: Campus Resources" Retrieved 26 May 2008
- "East 15 Acting School: Campus Resources" Retrieved 26 May 2008
- "East 15 Acting School: BA (Hons) Acting Course (3 year)" Retrieved 26 May 2008
- Official website
- Andrew J. McCarthy Official Website
- The Conference of Drama Schools
- Scarlet Blade Theatre