Five reasons to choose a one-year actor training programme

Are you thinking about what type of programme will be the right fit for you as you embark on your actor training journey and start applying and auditioning for drama school? We know that whilst this is a very exciting decision to make, it can also be a little overwhelming and daunting, especially if you are worried about your existing acting experience or knowledge.


If this sounds like familiar, have you thought about doing an initial one-year training programme as a first step? A one-year training programme will give you the space and the tools required to build strong creative skills, let you grow your confidence and performance abilities, and teach you how to work and collaborate with a diverse range of people as an ensemble.

In a nutshell, it will lay the foundations you need to help you feel better equipped and ready for an acting degree or similar further training!

If this sounds interesting, why not check out our five reasons why a one-year training programme, such as the Year of the Monkey One Year Intensive Training Programme offered by Fourth Monkey, can be the perfect way to start your drama school journey to help you decide what might be the right fit for you…

Reason #1 – Develop and build on your existing skills

Foundation-style or one-year intensive training courses have been designed with exactly this reason in mind – they are intended to take your acting existing skillset and abilities, whether this was learned during your time at school or as part of a youth theatre, and help you develop these to take you to the next step as an actor and a creative.

You will learn about different theatre techniques and training principles developed by practitioners and creatives whose work may be completely new and unfamiliar to you or who you may have never heard of before. If this is the case, don’t panic! The material and classes covered during this time is supposed to be new, fresh and completely different to anything you may have done before, so jump in with both feet and get ready to be bold and play as you learn and develop as a performer. The intention of a one-year training course is to give you a solid grounding in actor training and to introduce you to a broad range of practices and disciplines, from Voice to Puppetry, from Audition Prep to physical theatre and everything in-between, so that you develop an actor’s toolkit that is bursting with new skills and knowledge to serve as the foundation for any further training or practical experience working in the industry.

Reason #2 – Grow your confidence

Watching your confidence in your abilities over the twelve-month training period goes hand in hand with developing and learning new skills – the more you challenge yourself and learn new things, the more you will see yourself as being capable of doing.

The Year of the Monkey One Year Intensive Training Programme is a chance for students to explore and play with various techniques and disciplines, under the guidance and encouragement of experienced teachers and practitioners. Unlike your previous academic drama and theatre studies training at school, for example, there is a focus on the practical, the vocational and the physical, as well as working as an ensemble with the other actors in your class. You will learn how to create and devise work that celebrates the collective and the individual, that ensures every voice is heard, and that everyone involved feels their contribution was valued. Within this ensemble-focused environment, you will be encouraged to try new things, explore different aspects of yourself as a performer, experiment with alternative approaches and methods when coming up with ideas and devising pieces of theatre within the safety of a collaborative learning environment, all of which will help your confidence as a performer grow at the same time.

Reason #3 – Public performance opportunities

You now have a newfound confidence and belief in your newly developed acting skills and in your ability to create interesting work as part of an ensemble. Great! The next step is sharing this work with others via a public performance to further build on your confidence, and to give you an experience of performing to a paying audience.

The Year of the Monkey programme boasts plenty of these performance opportunities for students on the course, from sharing sessions to allow students to engage with and celebrate each other’s work throughout the duration of the course, to more formal public performance ‘seasons’.

These performance seasons range from a Devised Project, performed in the studio spaces at the school, to the Camden Fringe season which represents the culmination of the skills you will have learned over the course of the twelve-month training programme, and are intended to give you a real insight into what goes into devising and rehearsing a piece of theatre to get it ready to share with an audience, as well as an insight into some of the wider skills required as a theatre maker. For example, you might discover that you are a whizz at promoting your work and drumming up interest via social media, a skill that will be extremely helpful when marketing any work you create independently or with collaborators in the future. Or, you might find that you are a dab hand at communicating and explaining ideas and suggestions clearly and concisely to the wider ensemble to ensure that everyone is working together and understands what they being asked to do and why – an essential skill for any aspiring directors!

Reason #4 – Diverse and accessible training environment

Your initial steps into actor training should be in an environment that is relaxed, welcoming and diverse as well as challenging and rigorous.

It should feel as though you have moved away from the academic structure of your school or college drama training into a more free-form, vocational training space that drives you to explore and discover who you are as an actor and creative, whilst still being protected by the support and encouragement offered by the peers and practitioners around you, many of whom will comes from varied and diverse backgrounds and disciplines – after all, it is supposed to be enjoyable as well as educational!

Foundation-style training programmes and one-year courses are intended to be open and accessible to anyone who wants to develop their skillset and this will be reflected in the other students on the course with you as well as in the teaching and the practitioners leading your classes – the other students on the course may vary from those who have come straight from school or college, to those who have already completed previous actor training and are now looking to develop new practical skills, to those who are having a complete career change.

Fourth Monkey’s Year of the Monkey training programme has been designed to be as accessible and inclusive as possible, from offering free of charge, full day auditions to all prospective students (including any recall auditions) to creating and nurturing a learning environment focused on the collective as well as the individual to ensure that everyone has the same chance to explore and develop new skills whilst they act, make, move and collaborate as part of an ensemble training process.

Reason #5 – Work and train at the same time

Starting out on your drama school journey can potentially be expensive, and many students may want to be able to work alongside their training.

To help with this, the Year of the Monkey has been structured to allow for just this, with the twelve-month training split between two terms where teaching takes place solely during evenings and weekends, and two terms where teaching moves to be “full-time” in rehearsal and preparation for the public performance seasons that take place in the second half of the year. The structure of the training programme has been created specifically to both allow students to work and train at the same time, to  give them time and space to work on their own personal development during their spare time, and so that it appeals to a wide variety of people from all walks of life to create a diverse and varied ensemble with diverse and varied life experiences and perspectives.

Interested in applying to audition for the Year of the Monkey One Year Intensive Training Programme? You can book your virtual audition, as well as get full details on what to expect and how to prepare, via our Auditions landing page.

Looking for expert advice to help you nail your audition once you have submitted your application? Our Artistic Director Steve Green has shared some of his top tips here.

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