Why Speech and Drama?
There are many things which motivate people of all ages and backgrounds to seek training in speech and drama. Quite apart from the obvious reasons – coaching for auditions to enter drama school or to seek professional work – there are some which are, perhaps, less obvious.
The area of speech and drama training is very wide and can provide many useful skills for both adults and children with applications in all types of career and in business generally, as well as in the amateur or professional theatre. Some of these are outlined below:
Speech Training for Children and Adults
The gift of language is among the greatest that we have and, if we know how to use and appreciate it, is a very powerful tool, which will not only be of invaluable practical use, but also open up a beautiful and fascinating world of literature and dramatic art.
Children are, of course, introduced to reading and books early in their school career, if not before, but overcrowded classrooms and the increasing demands on the time of a schoolteacher of today means that he or she cannot hope to give enough individual attention to those who show a particular interest and/or aptitude for reading aloud or reciting from memory. In a world full of easily accessible instant entertainments offering little scope for creativity, the child who has a natural love of words and a drive to self-expression should be seized upon as a rare orchid and nurtured so that he or she does not miss out on the opportunity to gain a range of life-enhancing skills which could go a very long way towards a creatively fulfilled adulthood.
When we speak of “speech” training, this does not just mean what used to be called “elocution”, ie, how to speak clearly and expressively (not how to “talk posh” or to change a regional dialect) in ordinary everyday communication, but also to appreciate and to interpret poetry and prose, both in reading for performance and reciting from memory.
Serious speech defects are best referred to a qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT), but lazy speech, eg: indistinctness, confusion of “th” and “v” sounds, sibillance (lisp), glottal stops and dropped aitches can very often be improved or even eliminated with articulation exercises. We can also work on negative muscle tension, breathing techniques and voice production generally.
LAMDA Grade Examinations
No student will be pressed to take exams if they do not feel confident enough. However, the most tangible evidence of achievement in any field is a certificate or medal from a reputable examining body and students who reach the required standard will be encouraged to take the grade examinations of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). LAMDA runs examinations for children as young as five years old in the form of an “Introductory” grade, then “Entry Level”, for which students become eligible at age eight. The grades proper start at Grade 1, for age 9+, right up to bronze, silver and gold medal standard (Grade 8) for older teenagers to adults. The age range is limited at the lower end of the scale only - there is nothing to stop an adult starting at Grade 1 if he or she wishes to do so! Beyond the medals there are diploma courses (including the teaching diploma) which are rather more academic and which may take up to two years to complete.
Drama Training for Children and Adults
If someone enjoys reading aloud or reciting to an audience, it is quite likely that they will also enjoy performing in a dramatic production. The world of theatre holds a magical fascination to those who have been “bitten by the bug” and can open up a whole new dimension to life. Very few people who undertake drama training, even at degree level or at a drama school, end up as professional performers, but very many people enjoy performing in amateur productions, which can be of a very high standard. In fact it has often been observed that a really good amateur production can sometimes be of a higher standard than some professional ones!
Whether you have ambitions to work in the professional theatre or are an enthusiastic amateur or even a complete beginner, private one-to-one lessons will give you the stagecraft skills you need to get the very best out of your performances.
LAMDA Grade Examinations
As with the speech syllabus, LAMDA runs examinations in Acting at the same grades and they can be taken as solos, duologues or groups (everyone in the group gets a certificate or medal if the group reaches the required standard).
The RADA Shakespeare Certificates
This is the first time that RADA have offered public examinations. They offer bronze, silver and gold certificates for individuals and groups aged 16 years upwards.