ABSTRACT

This chapter surveys the histories and pedagogies of eight drama schools in the UK and Ireland: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, National Theatre School of Ireland (Gaiety School), and The Lir Academy. Using ethnographic research from interviews and onsite visits in conjunction with archival research, the chapter analyzes how drama schools approach training and negotiate their administrative responsibilities in the context of higher education. It demonstrates how each institution has dealt with draconian funding cuts that commenced in 1990 and persist today, thereby forcing the schools to affiliate with universities to receive state support and attract students. Additionally, the chapter positions British drama schools as “paternalist” institutions that use their storied histories to invoke perceptions of authority and expertise that influence training in other countries. In sum, it depicts conservatoires in the UK and Ireland as commercial endeavors relying on hallowed practices at the expense of pedagogical innovation and cultural diversity.