History of East 15 Acting School

"The contribution of East 15 actors to the British theatre, television, and film over the past decades has been immense. Several generations of brilliant young actors and actresses have come out of this highly original conservatoire." Mike Leigh, film and theatre director.

For 50 years, East 15 Acting School has produced actors, directors, producers and theatre technicians for stage, TV, film and radio including Oscar nominee Stephen Daldry, award winning director of Billy Elliot, The Hours and The Reader

East 15 was founded by Margaret Bury and grew from the work of Joan Littlewood's famed Theatre Workshop and is one of only a few drama schools to have come from such a background. Theatre Workshop broke new ground, re-interpreting the classics for a modern age, commissioning new plays from socially committed writers, and creating an ensemble capable of inventing new work, such as the now legendary Oh! What a Lovely War. Littlewood created an outstanding ensemble, that combined inspired, improvisational brilliance with method, technique, research, text    analysis, and the expression of genuine emotions. Much of the Littlewood approach was based upon the theories of Stanislavski and the company inherited the socially committed spirit of the Unity Theatre movement, that introduced many new voices to British theatre.

Over the years, new training methods at East 15 evolved to include approaches from diverse practitioners such as Michael Chekhov, Rudolp Laban, Jacques Lecoq, Jerzy Grotowski and other important contemporary trainers.

In September 2000, East 15 merged with the University of Essex, opening an exciting new chapter in the history of both institutions and offering new opportunities to students. Several million pounds have been spent on new buildings and facilities at East 15 on both campuses since then, including the purchase of a Victorian gothic church in Southend which has now been converted  into a state-of-the-art theatre and performance space, and re-named  The Clifftown Theatre and Studios.

Many staff at East 15 are leaders in the professional performance arena and are engaged with practice-led research, publication and professional activity; this work feeds into a constantly alive and flexible curriculum that whilst preserving continuity of tradition is also informed by recent developments and changes in the professional world.

East 15 continues to move from strength to strength, with the two exciting campuses in Loughton and Southend, plus a range of innovative and unique undergraduate and postgraduate schemes, many of which are Drama UK accredited. This has been reflected in recent and successful surveys, with undergraduate students at East 15 responding positively about their experiences as part of the National Student Satisfaction Survey and Student Satisfaction Survey, while postgraduates responded positively as part of the Student Satisfaction Survey.