Acting - Classical, MA

Duration: One year, full-time, September start

Award: MA Acting (180 credits)

MA Acting - Classical - "As You Like It".


An intensive, advanced conservatoire acting programme. Maintaining Central’s tradition of innovation in actor training, we offer two specialist courses taught over 42 weeks, with up to 35 hours per week of tuition and rehearsals. Successful applicants are offered a place on either the Classical or Contemporary course.

About the course

Acting - Classical is a creatively, physically and intellectually demanding course designed primarily for students with previous experience and/or training. The course aims to hone the individual technical craft of the actor, and to release their collaborative and imaginative creativity within an ensemble.

The course combines intensive training in acting, movement, voice, period dance, and stage combat with occasional seminar-style classes in performance history and theory. Acting classes derive from various approaches including the Stanislavski System, improvisation, clown, text and character analysis and Method-based work. This course has a particular focus on the works of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

Course Detail

Acting - Classical follows the development of theatrical art from its earliest ritual roots to the birth of naturalism:

  • Greek Tragedy, Chorus and Neutral Mask
  • Clowning and Commedia dell’arte
  • Shakespeare and the English Renaissance
  • Stanislavski, the Method and ‘Realist’ Theatre.

Indicative course content includes:

First intensive (September - October), the ensemble principle is nurtured through practical work on the chorus of ancient Greek tragedy, in-depth neutral mask and intensive physical and vocal training.

First studio (October - December), practical classes in commedia dell’arte, character mask, clowning and improvisation examine the oldest unbroken European theatre tradition: comedy. In addition, work begins on Shakespearean text and the theatre of the English Renaissance.

Second studio (January - March) examines the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, alongside character analysis and movement psychology.

Second intensive (March - April), you will perform a fully-supported public production of a Shakespeare, Renaissance or other appropriate play.

Third studio (April - June), examines the revolution of the realist and expressionist theatres in the 19th and early 20th centuries and their contemporary legacy. You will perform duologues in an industry showcase at Central, or a professional venue, in collaboration with students on the Contemporary course.

Final intensive (July - August), you will perform a fully-supported production from the Western canon.

Throughout the year you will undertake a Sustained Independent Project (SIP) of written and/or performance enquiry, part of which may be presented as a solo performance.

Assessment is through practical assignment, with a single written assignment as part of the Sustained Independent Project.

Professional Focus

All staff are well connected within the industry. Students have in recent years taken part in workshops with writers at the Royal Court Theatre, on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe and in a research symposium there; taken part in masterclasses with directors Ian Rickson, Michael Grandage, John Caird, Laurence Boswell, Eugenio Barba, and RSC casting director Hannah Miller; performed at the Brighton Festival; made a film with Sir Donald Sinden at the Garrick Club; and attended lectures by Judi Dench, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Boyd and Declan Donnellan. Students from Canada and the USA have participated in the Drama UK showcases in New York and LA, and all students participate in Central’s MA Acting showcase.

Graduate Employment Includes

Actors in leading theatre venues around the world, including national and international tours, in the West End and on Broadway, and for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, National Theatre of Scotland, Royal Court, English National Opera, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Old Vic, West Yorkshire Playhouse, National Theatre of Norway in Bergen, National Theatre of Greece, National Theatre of Spain, the Shaw Festival Theatre in Canada, Lincoln Centre Theater in New York, the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Denver Center Theatre, and Sydney Theatre Company in Australia.

Many television and film performances by our graduates include: Downton Abbey, Hannibal, Game Of Thrones, Sons Of Anarchy, Camelot, Baby Daddy, The Hour, The Road To Guantanamo, Shifty and Four Lions.

Graduates have also worked as writers, directors, designers, filmmakers, producers, agents, musicians, singers, scholars, comedians, acrobats and dancers.

Entry Requirements and Admissions

Applicants will normally have either undertaken conservatoire training, have professional acting experience, or have a degree in the broad field of performance and drama studies. Students from other disciplines may be considered if you have sufficient experience of theatre. An offer will normally only be made after audition and interview, and you may also be required to take part in a short practical workshop and/or submit a short piece of written work.

English Language Requirements

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to prove their English language proficiency by gaining an overall score of 7.0 in an IELTS test. We do accept equivalent English language qualifications. Applicants are advised to gain this certification as early as possible.

Auditions in London

If you are selected for an audition for a place on MA Acting we will require you to undertake the following:

  • an audition for which applicants are required to prepare two contrasting speeches of their own choice lasting no more than two minutes each. One of these must be from an Elizabethan or Jacobean play, the other a 20th or 21st century modern piece. One or both of these speeches may be required during the audition. Applicants may be asked to discuss their choice of speeches and should be prepared to work on them as required
  • an interview to discuss your choice of speeches, your skills and experience, and reasons for applying to the MA Acting at Central.

Please wear comfortable, appropriate clothing, as for a movement workshop or a rehearsal. You may be asked to work barefoot.

The process will also give you the opportunity to learn more about the course. On the day all applicants will be allocated their individual audition time slots. Please leave the rest of the day clear of other commitments.

Selected candidates will be invited to attend a recall audition at a later date, and may also be asked to submit a short piece of written work (again at a later date) to demonstrate their aptitude for the course.

All candidates will be informed of the outcome of their audition at a later date.

International Auditions

Each year Central hosts a number of auditions outside of the UK, with a team of tutors from Central traveling to meet applicants. The international auditions are designed to replicate the London-based audition experience in every aspect (other than a tour of our site!). See our Events Finder for listings of upcoming audition locations and dates.

Distance Auditions

We are not able to consider DVD or distance auditions/interviews for this course - all applicants must attend a live group audition and interview.

International Students

Visit the International Students section to view details of English language requirements for Central's courses.


In only 10 years the MA Acting course has built up an impressive alumni list including:

Riz Ahmed (2006), Film credits include Nightcrawler, Ill Manors, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, The Road To Guantanamo, Shifty and Four Lions. He has been nominated for several British Independent Film Awards and a BAFTA Rising Star Award. AKA Riz MC, he is also an accomplished rapper having performed at the Glastonbury Festival and appeared in Gaddafi: The Living Myth at ENO and worked with Asian Dub Foundation. Together with Heems he founded The Swet Shop Boys.

Zoe Boyle (2006) Television credits include Lavinia Squire in Downton Abbey, Jean Truscott in Breathless and Trinity Ashby in Sons Of Anarchy. Theatre includes productions for the RSC, Royal Court, The Old Vic and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Jamie Cameron (2013) Immediately on graduating joined the company of Once, The Musical at the Phoenix Theatre in the West End.

Lara Jean Chorostecki (2008) Film credits include Michelle in Antiviral and Sally in Please Kill Mr Know It All. Television credits include Freddie Lounds in Hannibal, Bridget in Camelot , Charlie in Dan For Mayor and Sybil O'Brien in Copper.

Elicia Daly (2007) Theatre credits include Her Naked Skin (National Theatre), and The Beautiful Cosmos Of Ivor Cutler (Vanishing Point & National Theatre of Scotland) for which she received a Best Actress at the Critics Award for Theatre Scotland 2014).

George Kemp (2012) Has appeared in productions at The Hampstead Theatre and The Yoing Vic. On graduating he joined Sydney Theatre Company for their production of Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead with Tim Minchin.

Martino Rivas (2011) Film credits include Los Girasoles Ciegos (nominated for a GOYA for Best New Actor).

Nicholas Thompson (2008) Until recently was the Artistic Director for The Old Red Lion in Islington.

Peter Wilkinson (2007) Actor, writer, Senior Lecturer at Teeside University, and filmmaker. Girl In The Woods his first short film with Blind Crow Pictures was long listed for a BAFTA in 2013.


View profiles of the academic staff who teach on this course. Click on each staff member to see their CV.

Martin Wylde, BA, MPhil

Principal Lecturer, Course Leader MA Acting

Ben Naylor, BA

Course Leader, MA Acting - Classical

Sarah Davey-Hull, BA, MA

Course Leader, MA Acting - Contemporary

Current Students

Related Courses


Jamie Cameron

Jamie Cameron

Graduated 2013, immediately joined the company of Once, The Musical, currently showing at the Phoenix Theatre in London’s West End.

Tutors at Central encourage a work ethic and level of preparation that equip you for the professional acting world. We are encouraged to take creative risks and make bold choices. This helps your work stand out in the audition room and beyond.

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