Incorporating the Variety Artistes' Federation
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So you want to be a performer?

Performers need to be talented and skilled.  They also need stamina, dedication and self-discipline. Nearly all professional performers have had training either at a drama or dance school or at university.  Courses at specialist drama, dance or other performing arts schools tends to be more vocational and practical than university courses which by and large are more theoretical.

There are BTEC National Diplomas in performing arts, which many colleges teach.  These are equivalent to A levels and normally require four GSCEs at grades A-C for entry.  These can be a platform to move onto training at a higher level such as the BTEC Higher National Diplomas, or specialist courses at drama school.

If you  are  interested in a career in drama (acting, stage management etc) should look at  DramaUK. The organisation accredits vocational drama courses and has a lot of useful information on courses, auditioning for drama school and fundraising facts. Professional training on an accredited course is perceived as by far the best way to enter the acting profession. Some government funding is available for people on such courses. Drama UK also includes the leading drama schools and is an advocate for excellency of training and collaboration between the industry and training institutions.  

The CDET (Council for Dance Education and Training)  provides similar information for those interested in dance. and choreographey. You can also get information on courses at all levels from your local library.  

Please note that auditions form part of the entry process for places at specialist dance and drama schools.

There is also training available for people wishing to learn circus skills

Younger people can find out about less lengthy training by contacting theatres in your area to ask if they run any theatre groups or workshops or whether they do any theatre-in-education work with local schools. You could also contact local private dance and drama schools to see if they run weekend or summer courses which will not clash with school timetables. The names of theatres, schools and their telephone numbers can be found in the publication Contacts, which also lists the names of agents who manage and find work for performers who are their clients.  A copy of Contacts can be obtained from Spotlight, tel: 020 7437 7631, or you could ask your local library to get a copy.  There is also the National Youth Theatre and the Youth Music Theatre

Another useful resource is the industry weekly newspaper The Stage which has general information about the performing arts in the "How To" Guides section