East 15 Acting School

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The East 15 Acting School (Hatfields / Loughton campus)

East 15 is a British drama school[1] 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 Theatre and Studios.

The school is accredited by Drama UK and its degrees are awarded by the University of Essex, with which it merged on 1 September 2000.[2]


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 shared 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[citation needed] as a performance and learning space, and renamed the Clifftown Theatre and Studios.

Present day[edit]


East 15 Acting School occupies two campuses; Loughton and Southend on Sea. Courses taught at Loughton include BA Acting, BA Acting (International), BA Acting and Contemporary Theatre, BA Stage and Production Management and Certificate of Higher Education in Theatre Arts. The Loughton campus is also home to the postgraduate courses which include MA Acting, MA/MFA Acting (International)and MA/MFA Theatre Directing.

BA courses taught at Southend include Acting and Stage Combat (the only course of its kind in the world)[citation needed], Acting and Community Theatre, Physical Theatre and World Performance (also a completely unique course). In 2014, East 15 began to offer the Certificate of Higher Education course at the Southend Campus. [3]


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.[4] 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 the first 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, Acting and World Performance, and Physical Theatre, as well as Stage and Production Management, which is based in its own dedicated studios and workshops at Unit Four, located next to the main Loughton campus buildings. Postgraduate courses embrace Acting and Directing including the most recently opened course MA/MFA 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.

Graduate work[edit]

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, Fox & Hawk, 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[edit]

The East 15 Loughton campus Accommodation Office provides support in identifying approved accommodation in the local area. These include rentable houses or rooms, although there is also the opportunity to board with host families. By contrast, students attending the Southend-on-Sea campus have recently built halls of residence at their disposal.

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable graduates from East 15 include:

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°38′58″N 0°04′36″E / 51.6495°N 0.0768°E / 51.6495; 0.0768