Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

Coordinates: 51°19′08″N 0°33′39″W / 51.318984°N 0.560868°W / 51.318984; -0.560868
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Italia Conti
Italia Conti, 2 Henry Plaza, Victoria Way

, ,
GU21 6BU

United Kingdom
TypeFurther Education, Higher Education, Conservatoire-style, Performing Arts, Actor Training,
FounderItalia Emily Stella Conti
SpecialistActing, Musical Theatre, Dance; Undergraduate & Postgraduate
Principal/CEOHayley Newton-Jarvis
COOMiranda Tatton-Brown
Vice PrincipalsBradley Hawkins, Dan Fulham
Age16 (FE), 18 (HE)+

The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts (drama school), also known as Italia Conti Arts Centre, and formerly known as the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, is a conservatoire-style drama school based in Woking, England. It was founded by the actress Italia Conti in 1911.[1] Italia Conti delivers courses in acting, musical theatre, and dance, catering mostly for 16+ and 18+ students through its higher education programmes, and for younger learners (3-18yrs) through it's Associate Schools and pre-vocational courses[2].

Italia Conti is a member of the Federation of Drama Schools formerly Drama UK,[3] and accredited by the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre (CDMT).[4] Italia Conti was a member of National Council for Drama Training (NCDT) before the organisation dissolved in 2012.

Originally based in London, the institution has occupied various premises throughout its history, as a result of its growth and the evolving needs of its student body. In August 2022, Italia Conti consolidated its operations into a new, bespoke-built facility in Woking, Surrey. This new modern campus includes specialised studios for dance, acting, and musical theatre, as well as recording and television production spaces[5]. The academy then moved to a church building in Lamb's Conduit Street (at #14).[6] However, during World War II, the academy was bombed, destroying all early records. [7]

The school has undergone several name changes throughout its history. Despite these changes, the institution is commonly referred to as Italia Conti, a nod to its founder and her enduring legacy in the performing arts education field.


The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, ranks among the oldest theatre arts training institutions in the United Kingdom, established in 1911 by Italia Emily Stella Conti (Italia Conti). The academy was initially set up to train child actors for the West End stage, with its foundation closely linked to the production of "Where the Rainbow Ends", reflecting Conti's involvement in theatre productions of the early 20th century.[8]

Initially located in a basement studio on Great Portland Street, London, the academy moved to Lamb's Conduit Street in 1931, under the management of Italia Conti and her niece, Ruth Conti. This relocation coinsided with the start of an expansion into a broader curriculum beyond stage acting.[9]

The academy's premises were destroyed by bombing in 1941 during World War II. Despite this, the institution managed to continue its operations, moving temporarily to Bournemouth before returning to London.[10] This period demonstrated the academy's commitment to sustaining education for its students under challenging conditions.

After the war, Italia Conti established a new site in Archer Street, London. This move was accompanied by the introduction of a structured curriculum encompassing both general education and professional arts training, influencing the development of performing arts education in the UK.[11]

In 1981, the academy expanded to include 'Junior' and Musical Theatre courses in Islington. The School of Acting attained Higher Education status in 1994 through a partnership initially with Middlesex University, followed by validations from London South Bank University[12] and the University of East London.[13]

The establishment of Italia Conti Associate Schools in 1995 widened the academy's reach, introducing part-time performing arts training for younger students not enrolled in full-time studies. This endeavour aimed to extend the availability of performing arts education across the UK.[14][15]

In August 2022, the 'School of Acting' and the 'School of Musical Theatre & Dance' consolidated into a single facility in Woking, housing all full-time courses.[16]


Italia Conti offers a number of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Alongside the flagship in-person performer training courses, it reports to offer online, part-time, and pre-vocational training options. The higher education (HE) courses at Italia Conti are validated by the University of East London[17] , University of Chichester, or Trinity College London[18] (for Diploma Courses), and accredited by CDMT[19].


  • Acting[20]
    • BA (Hons) Actingonti}}</ref>, introduced 1994, a three-year full-time professional actor's training for students over the age of 18. The first HE course offered by Italia Conti
    • BA (Hons) Acting (Musical Theatre)onti}}, a year-long full-time course that serves as a preparation and foundation training for students aged 18 and above, formerly known as a Foundation Acting Course.
  • Dance[21]
    • BA (Hons) Dance, introduced 2022.
    • Level 6 Trinity Diploma in Professional Dance
    • FDA – Dance, introduced 2024.
    • CertHE in Dance, introduced 2023.
  • Musical Theatre[22]
    • BA (Hons) Musical Theatre, introduced 2018, a three-year full-time professional musical theatre training for students above the age of 18.
    • FDA – Musical Theatre, introduced 2024.
    • Level 6 Trinity Diploma in Professional Musical Theatre
    • CertHE in Musical Theatre, introduced 2021, a one-year full-time preparation and foundation training for students above the age of 18.


  • MA/MFA Teaching and Coaching: The Speaking Voice, introduced 2023 as the first post-graduate course offered by Italia Conti, and the first of the suite of Teaching & Coaching courses.
  • MA/MFA Teaching and Coaching: Actors' Movement, introduced 2024.
  • MA Creative Arts Education, introduced 2024.
  • MA Creative Arts Practice, introduced 2024.



  • BA (Hons) Professional Arts Practice (Top-Up), introduced 2022, allowing students to progress from a Level 5 or Level 6 non degree qualification, to a BA (Hons).
  • Italia Conti Virtual – Free and Paid-subscription online classes



  • Diploma in Dance Education (DDE)
  • ISTD Vocational Examination Programme
  • RAD Vocational Examination Programme
  • Back 2 Training



  • Conti Camp
  • Summer School
  • Audition Ready


Theatre Arts School (for Juniors)[edit]

The Theatre Arts School, also known as the ‘Juniors’, was a co-educational independent school for pupils aged from 10 to 16 years old. The Theatre Arts School was first located in the Avondale building in Clapham, London and then at Goswell House, Barbican, London. The school was accredited by the Independent Schools Council and monitored by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Pupils would follow an academic curriculum to ensure they graduated with qualifications whilst also studying a range of performance skills. In May 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced that the Theatre Arts school would close in the summer of 2021 after 109 years.[27]

Buildings and facilities[edit]

Woking, Surrey (New Building)[edit]

In August 2022, Italia Conti moved to a new bespoke-built facility which provides over 4,000 square metres of activity space in Henry Plaza, Woking, Surrey.[28] This facility brings together the School of Acting, which was previously delivered from the Avondale Building in Clapham North, London, and the School of Musical Theatre & Dance that was split between Barbican, London, and Guildford, Surrey sites.[28]

Previous homes[edit]

  • Great Portland Street, London, 1911-1930.[7]
  • Church building in Lamb's Conduit Street, 1931-1941.[7]
  • 12 Archer Street, London, 1945-1972.[7]
  • Avondale, Clapham, 1960-2022.[7]
  • Italia Conti House, ('the academy'), in Goswell Road, Islington, London, 1981-2022.[1]
  • The Italia Conti Arts Centre in Guildford, which housed Musical Theatre and Performing Arts with Dance Teacher Training Courses.[1]

Italia Conti Associates[edit]

In 1995, Italia Conti Associate Schools were founded, these associate schools offer part-time classes in acting, dance, and musical theatre for students aged 3 to 18+ years.[29][30].

Listed below are the locations of associate school branches:

  • Italia Conti Associates Battersea, London
  • Italia Conti Associates Bishop’s Stortford
  • Italia Conti Associates Brighton and Hove
  • Italia Conti Associates Chislehurst
  • Italia Conti Associates Guildford
  • Italia Conti Associates Newbury
  • Italia Conti Associates Newcastle
  • Italia Conti Associates Peterborough
  • Italia Conti Associates Petersfield
  • Italia Conti Associates Plymouth
  • Italia Conti Associates Reigate
  • Italia Conti Associates Rugby
  • Italia Conti Associates Ruislip
  • Italia Conti Associates Tunbridge Wells
  • Italia Conti Associates Woking (at Italia Conti's main premises in Woking, Surrey)

'School for Stars'[edit]

A CBBC series following pupils at The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts as they juggle the glamour and excitement of careers in TV, film and theatre with the highs and lows of school life.[1] GCSE exams, tests, the school prom and End of Year School Performance. Each series followed a set of students during the school term. The series mainly featured the Theatre Arts School (Juniors) and occasionally featured students from the various 16+ courses. School For Stars first aired in 2011, and a third series began on 2 September 2013. The show is narrated by Reggie Yates.[31]


In literature[edit]

The Italia Conti Academy was the inspiration for the drama school in At Freddie's, a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, who was part of the teaching staff in the 1960s. [32].

In Impossible, a young adult novel by Michelle Magorian, both the Theatre Arts School and Italia Conti herself are integral to the narrative. [33]

Italia Conti is acknowledged in a number of plays and books including Freddie Machin's The Real Estate[34] and Candy Cansino Checks In.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d "History and Background". Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  2. ^ "About Italia Conti". Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  3. ^ Granger, Rachel. "Rapid Scoping Study on Leicester Drama School" (PDF). De Montfort University Leicester. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  4. ^ "CDMT Accredited Drama / Acting Schools and Colleges". Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  5. ^ "Italia Conti Academy Moves to New State-of-the-Art Campus in Woking". The Stage. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  6. ^ "HISTORY". italiacontiagency. Retrieved 28 October 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d e "History of the Italia Conti". Retrieved 20 October 2023.
  8. ^ "The Peripatetic Penelope Fitzgerald". Granta Magazine. 31 July 2017. Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  9. ^ Granger, Rachel (2019). "Rapid Scoping Study on Leicester Drama School" (PDF). De Montfort University Leicester. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  10. ^ "Italia Conti Academy: A History of Drama Education in Britain". BBC News. Retrieved 20 April 2023.
  11. ^ Smith, John (2021). Performing Arts Education in the UK: History and Development. Routledge. pp. 145–147. ISBN 978-0-415-52453-8. {{cite book}}: Check |isbn= value: checksum (help)
  12. ^ "London South Bank University Archive: Prospectuses 1969". LSBU Archive. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  13. ^ "Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts - University of East London". UEL Talent Gateway. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  14. ^ "About Italia Conti Associate Schools". Italia Conti Associate Schools. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  15. ^ Miller, Elizabeth (2023). "Expanding Horizons: The Impact of Italia Conti Associate Schools on Performing Arts Education in the UK". Journal of Performing Arts Education. 34 (2): 102–110.
  16. ^ Johnson, Sarah (8 August 2022). "Italia Conti Unveils New State-of-the-Art Campus in Woking". The Stage. Retrieved 27 April 2023.
  17. ^ "Academic Partnerships: Platinum Partners". University of East London. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  18. ^ "Italia Conti". Italia Conti. Retrieved 11 April 2024.
  19. ^ "CDMT Accredited Schools: Italia Conti Arts Centre". CDMT. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  20. ^ "Acting courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  21. ^ "Dance courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  22. ^ "MT courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  23. ^ "Postgraduate Courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  24. ^ "Italia Conti Virtual". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  25. ^ "Part-Time Courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  26. ^ "Pre-vocational Courses". Italia Conti. Retrieved 12 April 2024.
  27. ^ Sam Ferguson (8 May 2020). "Virus crisis forces stars' stage school to bow out".
  28. ^ a b "Italia Conti sets up new home in Woking". 8 August 2022.
  29. ^ Smith, J. (2021). "Expanding Access to Performing Arts Education in the UK: The Role of Italia Conti Associate Schools". Journal of Arts Education. 58 (4): 35–45.
  30. ^ "Britain's Best Drama Schools for Stage and Screen Success". The Guardian. 5 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Series 3 ‹ School for Stars". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  32. ^ "The Peripatetic Penelope Fitzgerald". Granta Magazine. 31 July 2017. Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  33. ^ "Goodreads - Book Details". Goodreads. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  34. ^ "The Real Estate". Multiplay Drama. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  35. ^ "Playwright". Retrieved 10 April 2024.

51°19′08″N 0°33′39″W / 51.318984°N 0.560868°W / 51.318984; -0.560868