The Poor School

Pentonville Road, London

The Poor School
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8/10 from 11 user reviews
We are an All In London Recommended Business
6
users have recommended this business
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Address:242 Pentonville Road, London
London, N1 9JY
Map:Map & nearby
Region:London
Nearest Station:King's Cross St. Pancras
Category:Universities & Colleges
Telephone:
Email:Send an email



About: The Poor School and Workhouse Theatre is a drama school situated in King's Cross, London.

The Poor School was created in 1986 by Paul Caister in response to the need for a first class acting training which was financially within the reach of all, or almost all.

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The Poor School features and articles

4Stars from remotegoat
Compelling revival of Wilde's masterpiece
Added on January 25, 2018

4Stars from Remotegoat
Drama school students seize opportunity
Added on November 19, 2017



The Latest User Reviews of The Poor School


User Rating: 2 / 10
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Emina Mok, London
Added: Jul 2016
Four Day Course was not worth it. The content relevant to acting could've been condensed to one day. There was very little learning or individual feedback. There were 2 days of time fillers that had nothing to do with acting (i.e. Movement teacher had us play tag with each other for 40 mins and for the last hour had us lie down and do stretching exercises and watered down yoga moves). The Voice teacher spent 40 mins talking at us about voice and another 40 mins having us do very basic vocal exercises and at no point were we allowed to ask question. We learned a dance that again had nothing to do with acting. I did not pay gbp75/day to to do dance and yoga moves on a filthy floor. When I tried to ask questions about the curriculum, I was patronised by both the teachers and the Director and treated as if I was some bratty teenager, rather than a paying customer. Very poor attitude.

User Rating: 10 / 10
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Martha, Hackney
Added: Mar 2014
All In London User Recommended Business
I did the four day course last month and I have never had a better week in my life! I knew I would be pushed out of my comfort zone but I didn't know how much I would enjoy it. The teachers are amazing!! I had heard lots about the director of the school and thoroughly enjoyed his Shakespeare class. He was straight, honest and fair. I have made wonderful new friends and am going to be applying to take the three week course in the summer. I can't wait!!

User Rating: 9 / 10
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Dominic, London
Added: Jan 2013
I went to the school and graduated in 2012. I must say up front that it's a very tough two year training, but more than worth it. A friend described it to me as an acquired taste when I was thinking of going, and it certainly is that. You have to be prepared to be critiqued on every level. But if you're open and honest about who you are and what you want then The Poor School offers some of the best training around. The teachers more than know their subjects and can awaken skills in you that you never knew you had. If you want to grow, go there. The 4 day course is a good taster. It got me in

Name: Dominic
Location: London

User Rating: 10 / 10
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Harriet, Streatham
Added: Dec 2012
All In London User Recommended Business
I never normally post online reviews (although took the course at the poor school on the basis of the ones on hotcourses - which are all amazing) but when Ben (who posted below and I was on the same course as) told me there were some less than 100% positive ones here I felt inclined to post and say how absolutely completely amazed i was by the quality of the teaching and the course in general. as all the reviews on hotcourses had been so posiitve i was expecting something pretty good but it did exceed all expectations so dont listne to any of the rubbish - go, experience it for yourself.

Name: Harriet
Location: Streatham

User Rating: 10 / 10
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Ben Thomas, Dorset
Added: Dec 2012
All In London User Recommended Business
Absolutely class. I think some people get disgruntled because it's not all luvvie and you get honest feedback - which can hurt! - but the teachers are the best I've ever come across and just a few days I felt like I made friends for life. Completely unforgettable.

Name: Ben Thomas
Location: Dorset

User Rating: 10 / 10
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anon, london
Added: May 2012
All In London User Recommended Business
I did the four day course and the negative things said may have been true at the time but my experience was just amazing. They were encouraging, passionate and constructive. If you cant take the criticism then life is going to seem a whole lot harder. Go to a four day course, you will discover a lot

Name: anon
Location: london

The rating for this review is no longer counted due to a response being added, see below for the official response.


platform9
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Member since: Apr 2012
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I attended the four day course in 2012 and have no acting experience. Don’t believe their website when it says this is a taster for people of any background. In reality, it’s a continuous audition.

It seemed that your opportunities were set from the morning of the first day based on your photo and a movement class. Previous reviewers are correct that the school is only interested in selecting students for the two year course.

Classes are run as mixed ability groups. Mine contained models, extras and those with considerable skills. This is not a safe environment for beginners.

The facilities are minimal and grimy with décor that dates back at least 30 years. Given the low cost of the course, this could have been overlooked.

However, most teachers are not amiable and have zero customer focus e.g. no handouts were provided other than the timetable and the list of attendees. They don’t ask why you’ve enrolled or what you’re seeking.

Although the course was not a feel good experience for me, the class I enjoyed most was stage combat; an informative session with an entertaining teacher.

This course may be suitable if you; 1) are reasonably experienced (i.e. can act by sight reading, have a strong singing voice and/or dance experience) and 2) are seeking selection for traditional theatre training in an authoritarian environment.

This comment has an official response:

This review is very concerning and is not consistent with most of the feedback we have received on this site & directly from students.

It is regrettable that you did not enjoy your experience. Our short courses are open to absolutely everyone as long as they are capable of taking on what is in involved. We do not audition for our short courses & as a result have people of all different abilities on each course.

The short course is not set out to be a continuous audition. Our short courses have been set up to give a realistic taster of the drama school experience. This is achieved by the high quality of teaching provided in the disciplines offered to full time drama students. It is important that each student attending any of our courses is committed & ready to give each class their best. This is what makes the courses work best. There is an option to use your short course as an audition for the two year training. This gives students more of an opportunity to show thei ability & potential.

We do not run classes exclusively for beginners and because there is no audition for these courses, our intake of students are always of mixed abilities. Throughout the literature on our short courses, it is stated that the short courses are for everyone; whether you have experience or not. This does not impact the teaching in any way & everybody is treated the same.

Our facilities have had considerable refurbishment since being damaged in a fire in 2011. We have also recently expanded & have added two more studios. We have made vast improvements to our outside area with the addition of decking & a cafe last summer.

It is not general practise at the school to provide handouts during any of the classes. We believe that acting is not something that can be studied intellectually, but rather a craft that is learned almost through osmosis. Our teachers are highly qualified & always happy yo help. They are happy to oblige any student who would like any extra help, including the provision of notes.

We do not ask students why they have enrolled on our courses because it is essentially not important to the course. Everyone has personal reasons for attending whether it is trying to improve, try something new or the realisation of a lifelong dream. Whatever the case, every student has the same chance to enjoy the classes & achieve what they set out to, whatever it may be.

We are pleased to hear you enjoyed stage combat. We have the privilege of employing the first female stage combat instructor in Britain.

It is not correct that string singing or dancing skills are required. This is something that is taught as an acting exercise & there is nothing expected here in terms of levels of accomplishment, even on our two year training. It is also not true to say that you need to be experienced. Many of our short course students have no previous experience & gain a lot from the course. It is possible to substitute a short course for a traditional audi


From: The Poor School
Position: MD



User Rating: 10 / 10
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markwatson
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Member since: Feb 2012
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Totally agree with Julie. I've had two friends who've completed the two year training and gone on to have pretty good careers in the industry. They would talk about the poor school SO MUCH I decided to do the three week summer course just so I could join in the conversations! It's a brilliant place, a but run down but I heard it's had a recent revamp of sorts.. it was totally individual and full of character and all the staff are a bit mad but they totally know what they are talking about - real professionals. The voice teacher has been around for about 100 years and worked with just about EVERYONE you can think of and the guy that runs the place is a total character and can be a bit rude but it is so refreshing to have a bit of honesty. I would trust anything he says about acting! I can totally understand where my friends are coming from now.. I could talk about this place forever. I won't go on about it though - just go and see for yourself.

User Rating: 10 / 10
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julie876
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Member since: Feb 2012
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These reviews are ridiculous! This is a fantastic and very highly regarded drama school in the centre of London where although the teachers are renowned for being tough, the students are hard working, talented and dedicated. Although the short courses are not for everyone, or certainly not for the sensitive, given the honesty of the feedback given, the two year training has a remarkable success rate in getting actors working. In fact, quite a few of the graduates are pretty well known and well regarded actors. I always see Poor School graduates in theatre programmes pretty much wherever I go and if you look on their wikipedia page you'll see that they go on to work at the National, the RSC, for the BBC, HBO, movies, loads of stuff and some have even set up theatre companies - so it's gotta be doing something right! I think the below reviews were written by the handful of people who just couldn't quite hack the honest feedback but if they can't even handle that after four days at the school, at least they learnt that they don't have the temperament for the profession - which is probably the most valuable lesson they could have got. From what I know the courses and the training are the best available for that price and time table and the school maintains a pretty solid reputation in the industry and has done for over 25 years.

The rating for this review is no longer counted due to a response being added, see below for the official response.


Xlib
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Member since: Dec 2011
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I attended this course in 2011. The leader of the school is extremely offensive. If he does not like you, he will not watch your performance or give you any constructive feedback. When you join you will be split into groups for the final performance, only 3 people from your course will be picked for the 2 year course. You can tell who these will be from the way the teachers respond to them and the roles they cast them in for the final play and how much time they spend rehearsing their scenes. If after the first day you sense you're being ignored,it's because you are. You won't lose anything by not going back. I joined the course as I was interested in the Shakespeare lesson. This is not really a lesson but an audition. The building is in a state of dilapidation and this is in keeping with the skills of the teaching staff. If you're not extremely weird or extremely mainstream you will not be given the time of day here. If you want a course in acting i.e to learn something don't go here as you will not learn anything. If you like to be humiliated and ignored this is the place for you. Just look at their success rate, have you ever heard of any successful actors who have trained here? No I think not. It's basically a scam, you pay your money to audition for the course or take the short course in the hope that you'll be picked for the 2 year course. But selection is not based on talent but on the whims of the bigoted leader and his minions.

This comment has an official response:

It is regrettable you did not enjoy your experience. However, many of your gripes with the course & the school are personal & are not based on the course itself & we will not address these.

Firstly there are no auditions for the short courses so the course will have people of all abilities. The groups are split prior to the course commencement & before anyone has acted & it would be impossible to split them according to ability because of this.

Secondly, there is no set number for how many people will be offered a place on the two year training from the short courses. Not everyone in every course wishes to use their course as an audition & it is based solely on the ability they have shown through the week. It could be 2 people, it could be 10 people. This is not predetermined.

It sounds as if you did not complete the course which is a shame & something that rarely happens. We are confident you would have a different experience if you had completed the week. Also it is not fair to comment on the entire course if you have not completed it.

The Shakespeare lesson is not an audition. The aim is help students to understand Shakespeare without any fanfare. The lesson seeks to look at the text like any other & direct the students to perform it in as true a way as possible. This is an incredibly difficult task for anyone & is a tough class. However, if students do their best, they will always be given time & encouragement & direction.

The building has gone under a massive refurbishment following a hugely damaging in the summer of 2011. It sounds as if you may have attended shortly after the fire. Our short courses continued in the rooms that were least damaged & fixed up as best they could be. This would have been explained to all of the students & we also offered refunds to anyone who did not want to attend under these circumstances. Since then we have refurbished everything, added outside decking, a cafe/bar & have recently expanded into the upstairs; we have two more studios.

Success in acting is not always marked by fame. Most of our alumni work regularly in acting, directing & producing & have contributed greatly to the arts. Most in the industry would agree that this is considered as huge success. If you are more interested in which 'famous' actors attended the school, there is a short extract on our Wikipedia page.

It is abhorrent to suggest that a drama school that has been open & running courses for 27 years is a scam & completely untrue. Implying you understand why or how students are chosen for the two year training is arrogant. Students are chosen based on talent, potential & also on whether or not training would fit them. The references you have made to, I'm assuming the school's director, are personal attacks & should not be taken into account in a review of the short course.


From: The Poor School
Position: MD



User Rating: 1 / 10
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EmpressNocturna
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Member since: Sep 2011
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I attended the three week course at the poor school this year and in the beginning I was planning to also audition for the two year course later on. My plan changed very quickly While some teachers at this school did a wonderful job in pushing a mostly amateur group to the heights of the abilities they didn't know they posessed, they were in the minority. The headmaster of the schoo/ teacher of our Shakespeare class was not only a disappointment but a downright outrage. Not only did he dismiss the monologues we had spent months learning in two minutes without giving us any useful criticism - he just made the impression that he did not consider our efforts to be worth his tiume, which was exactly the opposite of what any teacher on a course costing almost 700 pounds should do. Instead, he chose to spend most of our lesson spewing his own nonsensical theories on what can guarantee an actor success. He also claimed to be able to recognize potential in an actor within 10 seconds! Professionalism there was none, personal egostroking -much. After our play was performed, we did not receive constructive information on our strenghts as actors, just some minor pointers that were not really helpful. The headmaster again behaved appalingly - he turned his back on the participants when they were being given their crits and sometimes he even left the room. My utter disgust with the man and his absolute lack of professionalism was complete when we smelled alcohol on his breath during several classes where he was supposed to be "observing & assesing us" and the items visible on his desk wer; wine and beer openers and mouthwash. The international students were treated even worse than the rest, one of them even openly ridiculed for his heavy accent. Nobody informed international students that the poor school does not allow international students on the 2 year course, even though it is happy to welcome them (and their money) on the short course - probably as a form of amusement

User Rating: 7 / 10
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Jonno33
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Member since: Nov 2010
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I largely agree with the first review above - the 4 day course is varied, largely fun and overall it represents fantastic value for money. I would recommend it.

There are one or two things about the course however that I feel I should point out:

The website suggests that you don't necessarily have to learn a Shakespeare text by heart - let me just correct that and say that you most definitely have to learn it by heart - if you haven't learnt a reasonable chunk of it, you'll basically be ignored during the Shakespeare classes, or worse.

The director of the Poor School takes the course very seriously and has his own very definite ethos and views... - that's all I'm saying!

User Rating: 10 / 10
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A Customer
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Member since: Sep 2006
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I just did the 4 day course last week. I did no research before booking it . . .it was one of the few schools that did short courses and I was in a hurry. Sometime later I checked it out and was a little worried because I heard some good and some bad things about it. It also looked a bit rough and ready and not in a great area. When I actually made the trip to London for the course I had no expectations - my head was full of too many other things. Then I walked through the door . . and my god was it fantastic! I can't fault it! There were more students than i'd expected - about 36. We were split into 3 groups so only 12 per group. Our group (C) was way the best!!! Immediately we began classes and we didn't stop til the course ended. The timetable was tight but varied . . .jazz, movement, dance, singing, voice, acting skills, shakespeare. I'm 49 . .it had been a long held dream to go to drama school because I love acting but i can't sing or dance at all. So I was a little worried about the singing and dancing stuff but it was brilliant. Non of it was too difficult or strenuous. If you throw yourself into it you'll love it. ALL the teachers are amazing! They've had brilliant careers - are masters of their craft - and teach in such a fun yet effective way. Can't believe how they'd transformed all of us in just a few days. The premises may not be a palace but thats totally irrelevant . .its what goes on within the walls that counts . .and at The Poor School its sheer magic! I laughed non-stop. I've left with a group of wonderful friends with whom I have shared my dream! If you're hesitating . . .don't . .just do it! I stayed at the Novotel St Pancras - 5mins walk away which was great. We drank at the pub opposite - nice beer roof garden. I'm still high from the whole experience and I never want to come down! If you do go make sure you learn your shakespeare - for your own benefit! Good Luck!!

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