Q & A with Head of Acting Training, Dave Bond

Is it possible to train to be a professional actor in one year?

There's no denying that it's a considerable challenge for both staff and student alike. The course is very intensive, requiring great stamina and focus, and you can expect to be in classes and rehearsals for at least 30-40 hours a week. However, having had a little more life experience, we expect you to be able to develop strategies for coping with a working week that will include classes in voice, movement, combat, singing and Alexander Technique - and that's just the mornings!

How many people are taken onto the course each year?

We have one of the smallest intakes of any vocational postgraduate acting course in the UK, with just ten places available each year. This is a deliberate policy because we very much value the close working relationship this allows between our tutors and their students.

Why is Cardiff a good place to train to be an actor?

There is every reason to believe that, free of the many pressures of London living, our graduates begin their career in very good shape and ready to take on the very real challenge of establishing a career in a tough profession, whether they decide to base themselves in London, Wales or elsewhere. Cardiff is an affordable, student-friendly, easy place to live, allowing postgraduate actors to focus on their training during what is a very intensive period.

Wales has become a lively hub for independent film and television production companies - working in both English and Welsh - and is a favourite location for big budget feature films (Jurassic World 2, Show Dogs, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Dark Knight Rises to name a few). BBC Wales and S4C continue to show their confidence in the College by employing ever increasing numbers of our graduates (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Casualty, and Pobol Y Cwm) - a position mirrored by the National Theatre of Wales, Sherman Theatre and The Other Room. Whilst leading casting directors and agents regularly attend our productions and Showcase in Cardiff and London, confident they will find the actors they are looking for.

It's a very happy College and the students often remark that, for them, the time passes all too quickly!

What do you look for at the audition?

Potential. Passion. Enjoyment. Instinct. Willingness to take risks.

Does the College use particular methods or systems of acting?

No. Our strength is that we have a very experienced and professional team of staff who will use whatever methods, ideas or systems of work they think are in the best interests of a particular student. What works for one tutor will not work for another, and the same is true of each individual student. It may well be possible to identify the ideas of key practitioners, such as Stanislavsky, Meisner or Michael Chekov in the teaching, but there is no single methodology which is championed by the course. The best method is the one that works!

How much of the course involves performance?

The work of the first term is centred on the self and making essential relationships with other actors in the work space. The key elements are practice and rehearsal - allowing an actor to develop through risk-taking and moving outside of their comfort zone.

In the spring term, postgraduate students join a cast of final year BA (Hons) Acting students in one of three public productions. In the summer term, the same students join to perform another three productions. This is a unique and very successful element of the course; the public expression of our belief that our students in the final stages of their training should no longer be defined by their 'one year' or 'three year' labels.

All in all, the College will mount over 15 fully-realised performances each year - anything from a cutting edge three hander seen at The Royal Court to a large classic and specially commissioned new writing. 

What kind of reputation does the College have within the profession?

Our students are always well-represented in the UK's leading theatre companies such as The Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre of both England and Wales, The Donmar Warehouse and The Royal Court. We are also very proud of our students' contribution to the success of Wales' own theatre industry, with its strong reputation for community and specialist theatre. The cast lists of major UK television, theatre and radio productions also bear witness to our students' talent and training. Our graduates regularly feature in leading roles in flagship television productions including Line of Duty, Crazyhead, Gotham, Casualty, Woldblood Secrets, Outlander, Poldark, Kiss Me First and Close to the Enemy amongst others. Radio, it should be noted, is a particular strength of the College, as evidenced by a string of successes in the BBC Carleton Hobbs Competition.

Any final tips/advice/words of wisdom?

Which ever college you hope to train at, do your homework before you apply. Find out everything you can about the college from ex-students, current students and, critically, contacts within the profession itself. Ask the opinion of professional actors, directors, theatre and TV workers. Visit the college and imagine how things might be over the year. As for the audition, try and enjoy it. Sounds impossible, but it will make a great deal of difference. Good luck!