Originally published in The Stage, April 2016
Recently, Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington mentioned in an interview that his aim upon leaving the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama was to become a spear-carrier for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Having been inspired by Ben Whishaw’s performance as Hamlet at the Old Vic, London, Harington had a passion for Shakespeare, and that’s where he set his sights – working for the big classical companies. That is, until War Horse and Game of Thrones came along to distract him.
Harington isn’t alone. There are many reasons people become actors, but a passion for Shakespeare is certainly a common theme, and, as theatres celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death with innovative new productions, a new generation of young actors are becoming inspired by his work.
It is a rare vocational course that doesn’t offer any Shakespeare, and most will offer a fair amount of modules dedicated to verse speaking, and a range of classical playwrights. But what about those students who want to investigate Shakespeare and classical work in more depth? BA courses are, by their nature, generalised, and as such rarely specialise in one form of theatre. But there are a couple of MAs that really pull focus on Shakespeare and classical theatre.