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Islington Tribune - by SIMON WROE
Published: 7 August 2009

A performance at the Young Actors Theatre. Its artistic director Andrew Harries has warned drama schools will “suffer big time”
Slump sparks fear curtain will come down on drama classes

School closure blamed on recession as job cuts force students to drop out

STAGE schools across Islington are bracing themselves for more recession drama after the shock closure of the Method Studio last week.
It is feared more theatre courses will face the same fate as the Holborn-based drama school, which announced it would not be running classes in the new academic year because of poor student numbers.
Andrew Harries, artistic director of the Young Actors Theatre, in Barnsbury Road, Barnsbury, warned that drama schools charging high fees would “suffer big time” as the economic downturn continued.
“It’s getting harder and harder for people to justify that kind of expense when what they are paying for is a career that is going to mean long periods of unemployment,” he said.
“I’ve noticed things are a bit sluggish. Stage schools are always going to be something of a luxury.”
The Method Studio is the second drama school to shut in central London in the last 12 months, following the closure of The London Centre for Theatre Studies, in Old Street.
Kay Potter, the Method Studio’s director, said aspiring performers had been unable to find funds for classes in the economic downturn.
“We are a victim of the recession,” she added. “We just don’t have the number of students to continue for next year. A lot of them had to drop out or not continue at the end of courses because they were losing their jobs or having their hours cut down.”
Mr Harries said it was sad to see institutions with integrity suffering, such as the Method Studio, whose tutors included Lee Strasberg, Don Sellers and Godfather II actor Marianna Hill.
He added: “I think tertiary institutions and expensive courses are going to suffer big time. A lot of the drama schools are charging an awful lot of money – up to £9,000 for a year-long course.”
The Method or Stanislavski system of acting was set up to teach people to be as truthful as possible on stage and to use their own experiences to create characters. Sir John Gielgud was one of its leading practitioners.
Other schools, such as the Drama Centre in Clerkenwell, had affiliated themselves with universities, said Mr Harries, to help raise sufficient funds through grant money.
But Alex Andreou, a drama teacher at the Poor School, in Pentonville Road, King’s Cross, said the recession had a silver lining. “We are buoyant,” he added. “People have been forced to reconsider career options in the current climate – it’s a healthy time for training providers.”

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