An insight into IDSA’s Curriculum with our Head of Acting

26 January 2021

We sat down with IDSA Head of Acting (London) Sam Miller to gain an insight into the IDSA faculty, and what prospective students can gain from our innovative curriculum:

Can you share with us a brief background about your time so far at IDSA?
I started at IDSA as a tutor back in 2014. This was around the time I began shifting my own practice from a Stage Director to working with actors in training – at the time I was working with a number of different institutions, like East 15 and Birmingham School of Acting. My work as a tutor at IDSA quickly became the highlight of my freelance practice. I found – and this is a view which many colleagues across our industry have shared with me – that IDSA students are exceptional in terms of their work ethic, commitment, and total dedication to their practice.

As time went on, IDSA became a bigger part of my life, until I was offered the role of Head of Acting in 2017. Since then, it’s been my privilege to work with a fantastic team, incredible tutors, and wonderful students, all of whom share my own commitment to training that reflects not just the realities of working in our industry, but also the diverse and multicultural nature of our country.

What are the benefits of a part-time training programme at IDSA?
These days, I’m not a believer in full-time training. Personally, I feel that it envelops the student and that it can be a real danger – and in some cases a deliberately engineered programme – in a full-time experience to break down a student, rebuilding them in the model which the institution thinks is best. Part-time training means that an actor is able to keep developing as both a person and an actor at the same time, and this personal development filters into their practice and helps them develop their own unique, individual style. It also means they can live, work, earn, and not find themselves in colossal debt at the start of their career.

What can new actors/potential students experience at IDSA?
IDSA classes are practical and rigorous, and students can expect to be constantly pushed outside their comfort zone. Training at IDSA can be a formative and changing experience, not just for us as actors but also as people, and if students really embrace all their classes have to offer and dive in without reservation, they’ll find themselves making leaps and jumps in terms of their development as actors. Students can expect to perform constantly, to be given constructive feedback in every class, and to learn skills which they will return to time and time again over the entirety of their careers.

What makes IDSA stand out from other drama schools? What can they learn from us? (Both full & part-time)
Firstly, all of our training is based upon giving our students the skills which working actors actually need on a day-to-day basis, preparing them for a professional career. We don’t focus on theory as much as we do practice – academia has its place, and that’s important, but people come to us so they can learn practical skills which they can then go and use in a casting or performance. This has really developed with the online curriculum, as our industry moves online. IDSA was at the leading edge of developing online classes, and these skills are already proving to be tremendously important to a working actor. IDSA students have found themselves with a real advantage here.

The second point that I’d like to make about what makes IDSA stand out is that we are a family, first and foremost. When you become an IDSA student, you join a group of dedicated, driven people from across the world who share the same aspirations. You make friends who will stay with you for life, and share experiences which define you not just as an actor, but as a person.

What can we expect from IDSA in the future?
IDSA Online will continue after we reopen our London and Los Angeles studios. The programme has been a colossal success and there is much of value to learn on an online course, and we’re really seeing the results in students who have been working on IDSA Online for the last ten months. We’re also looking forward to being able to reopen our studios in 2021, and students will be able to learn the In-Person Course again from our amazing tutors. We’re constantly adapting and developing the curriculum, and we’ve built relationships with so many fantastic tutors and directors over lockdown which will continue.