Business Spotlight: Edinburgh Acting School

1 May 2023

Acting has a reputation for being hard to get into - the stuff of Hollywood dreams and exclusive conservatoires.

But Edinburgh Acting School has been making moves to change the landscape in our city for more than 40 years. Their courses, classes and workshops are open to everyone, from kids learning in a playful setting, to beginner adults wanting to improve their confidence, to professionals keeping their skills sharp. We spoke to the owner, principal and creative director Stephen Graham-Martin about how they make acting "EASy".

How did EAS get started?

EAS has been running since 1982 so we celebrated 40 years in September last year. I've run the school since 2017, and five years in we are now doing some rebranding and looking at how our establishment can impact the creative arts more than it previously has, and how we can offer the best part-time training in acting in Edinburgh and Scotland.

What programmes do you run?

We run training courses in Acting that look to develop skills in a supportive environment. Our Stages is a chance for our actors to work with a tutor in a studio setting, aiming to improve their skills and give them the tools they need to do so.

We also offer a performance course that looks to offer the actor the chance to work with a director in a rehearsal room setting, resulting in a public performance. 

We have a diploma course that operates alongside Trinity College London to give our students an accredited certificate.

We also have our Actors’ Gym, which is a supportive network for working actors in and around Edinburgh. It is a special place that has created great work and started projects that have gone on to do great things within the Scottish arts industry. 

We also operate kids classes via our Youth group, currently operating with 35 young people from around Edinburgh. 

We frequently run workshops with industry professionals in various styles and theories. 

So there's lots going on and something for everyone at EAS!

Your company takes actors at all ages and stages. How important is dismantling barriers into acting?

One of the most important things for EAS is that acting and the arts is accessible to everyone. We don’t leave anyone behind and try our hardest to open doors for as many people as we can. We always look to have affordable fees and minimal classes so full support can be given, and a community that lives and breathes and supports itself with the students (current and previous). 

We’ve also had the Jason Telford Scholarship in place for five years that gives some students the opportunity to attend sessions at discounted rates or even under a scholarship scheme, It has put adults through their diploma, children the chance to attend classes and paid for specialist workshop leaders to come to EAS. 

How do you create such a safe space?

By working with a venue that is focused on it’s community engagement and by working to the ethos that ‘limited class sizes to offer full support’ means that we can offer a safe space. We also believe that the arts in Scotland should be widely explored by everyone and that there is a space for it in everyone's lives. We set our space and our boundaries and let people explore within that. All the team are passionate about the progression of training in Scotland and showcasing the best of it - and that stems from giving actors the space they need, to feel safe and to feel supported. 

Can you tell us about some success stories or testimonials that you're proud of?

We have previous students who are still active in our community - working professionally and creating their own work and shaping their own narrative - that’s really special to us. We have current members that have set up their own companies to create work together, we have students that have been granted funding to put on important and valuable pieces of work, we have members that are actively thriving in the industry. There are too many ‘success’ stories to mention as any of them that have gone out into this industry and make a place for themselves is a success story. For us, the success lays in the contacts they keep with us and continue to make with other EAS members, giving them the next chance. Success is sometimes about giving others the foot up or opening the door for the person behind you.

Do acting skills and techniques also translate into other jobs and life situations?

100 per cent! We have students that attend to focus on voice projection for a work project, to build on public speaking for an interview or even looking to build their confidence because they are new to Scotland and want to feel more comfortable. All our Stages classes look to improve these skills and give people the tools they need to do this. 

What are you most proud of EAS achieving?

I’m proud that we have been part of the Scottish arts and training industry for 40 years. Anna Tinline and Kirsty O’Sullivan who previously set up and ran the school set some amazing standards for the school to follow - this is why it has sustained throughout the years - especially over the previous years of COVID. I’m personally proud of the team we have at EAS - we have a dedicated and supportive team that is passionate about what we do and are always looking to push it further. We all believe that the arts have a place in everyone's lives and need to be accessible. We continue to have conversations about this and want to continue writing a new narrative that we can reach everyone that wants it if we can work together. 

Photos by Hannah Ferrier Baker.

To find out more about Edinburgh Acting School, visit their website, Facebook and Instagram.

This company is a Business/Professional Member with Creative Edinburgh, and one of the benefits is a Business Spotlight article to showcase their work in the Edinburgh creative community.