Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts

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Italia Conti Academy
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Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Italia Conti Academy
Goswell Road


United Kingdom
Type Independent school, Further Education, Higher Education
FounderItalia Emily Stella Conti
SpecialistActing, Musical Theatre, Performing Arts
Department for Education URN 100461 Tables
Age9 (SE), 16 (FE), 18 (HE)+

The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts is a performing arts educational institution based in London, England. It was founded in 1911 by the actress Italia Conti [1] and delivers a variety of disciplines and theatre training at Secondary Education, Further Education and Higher Education.


The academy grew out of the first production of the play Where the Rainbow Ends . Italia Conti, an established actress with a reputation for her success working with young people, was asked to take over the job of training the cast.

The academy then moved to a church building in Lamb's Conduit Street. However, during World War II, the academy was bombed, destroying all early records. In 1972, the academy relocated to a building in Landor Road, Clapham. It was the home to all full-time Italia Conti pupils for nine years.

In 1981, the academy grew and developed so much that it had to expand to Goswell Road in Islington where the Junior and Musical Theatre courses are run. The BA Acting and CertHe Intro to Acting programmes are still held at the Avondale site in Clapham. It is a member of the Federation of Drama Schools. [2]


BA (Hons) Acting

The BA (Hons) Acting Programme, validated by the University of East London and accredited by the Federation of Drama Schools, is a three-year full-time professional actor's training for students aged 18+. It is based in Italia Conti's Avondale Building in Clapham, London. The programme is run by Chris White (also the Head of School of Acting), with staff and directors including Kate Williams, Paulette Randall, Karen Henthorn, Dugald Bruce-Lockhart, Lawrence Evans, John Gillett and Anna Jordan. Graduates of this programme populate the performance industries and include Karla Crome, Mark Ebulué, Jess Ellis, Karen Gillan, Aisling Jarrett-Gavin, Matt Lapinskas, Carla Langley, Bethany Muir, James Nelson-Joyce, Racheal Ofori, Gemma Salter, Lucie Shorthouse, Fiona Skinner, Gary Trainor, Nina Toussaint-White, and Dwane Walcott.

CertHE Introduction to Acting

The CertHE Intro to Acting Programme, validated by the University of East London, is a one-year full-time preparation and foundation training for students aged 18+ who wish to subsequently pursue or explore an actor-training, or vocational course within a performance-related field. The programme is run by Bradley Leech and operates alongside the BA (Hons) Acting Programme in Italia Conti's Avondale Building in Clapham. Before HE validation, this programme was previously known as the Foundation Acting Course.

BA (Hons) Musical Theatre

The BA (Hons) Musical Theatre Programme, validated by the University of East London, is a three-year full-time professional musical theatre triple-threat training for students aged 18+. The single programme runs two cohorts across two of the Italia Conti's buildings; The Academy in Barbican, London and the Arts Centre in Guildford, Surrey. The programme is run by Richard Mulholland, FRSA, MA, PGCLTHE. The first intake of students for this programme was in 2018.

Performing Arts Diploma

The Performing Arts course is a three-year full-time course for students from the age of 16; it takes place at Italia Conti Academy and Italia Conti Arts Centre which is accredited by the CDET (Council for Dance Education and Training). It is designed for students who require an all round training in performing arts. The emphasis is on training in the three main art forms; acting, singing and dancing.

Performing Arts with Dance Teacher Training

The Performing Arts with Dance Teacher Training is a three-year full-time course for students from the age of 16 and takes place at the Italia Conti Arts Centre. The course trains students to become performers and dance teachers by providing performing arts training and dance teaching qualifications. With the introduction of the ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing) qualifications in 2006, the academy provided students with the opportunity to take these examinations. The course follows the same path as the Performing Arts Course but also incorporates the teacher training by offering the FDI (Foundation in Dance Instruction) qualifications in classical ballet, tap and modern dance. This allows students to become qualified dance teachers to teach up to grade 5 in the ISTD syllabus. Aspects of the course include Dance, Acting, Singing, Contextual Studies and Additional Content such as ISTD examinations, PGCE work, latin dance, music, performance, pilates, presentation and professional skills, stage combat, video production and theatre in education production.

Theatre Arts School

The Theatre Arts School, also known as the ‘Juniors’, is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged from 10 to 16 years old. The Theatre Arts School is located within the Italia Conti Academy building in Barbican, London. The school is accredited by the Independent Schools Council and monitored by the Independent Schools Inspectorate. Pupils follow an academic curriculum to ensure they graduate with qualifications whilst also studying a range of performance skills. In May 2020 it was announced that the Theatre Arts school would close in the summer of 2021 after 109 years. Campaigns are currently underway to save the academy's oldest course via fundraising, petitions etc.[ citation needed ]

Buildings and facilities

The academy has three sites:

The Academy

The main centre 'Italia Conti House', commonly referred to as 'The Academy', is based in a former office block in Goswell Road, Islington, London. It is home to the Musical Theatre BA (Hons), Diploma courses and Dance Diploma Course. The Goswell Road campus also houses the Theatre Arts school. The building covers nine levels and has 18 dance, acting and singing studios, equipped with sprung floors, full length mirrors, ballet barres and sound systems. Italia Conti House has lecture rooms, academic school rooms, specialist classrooms, an art room, a video studio and editing suite, an IT suite, a resource library, first aid and treatment room, dressing room, student common room and a canteen. In early 2020, it was announced that the Theatre Arts school would be closing in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.


The BA (Hons) Acting Course takes place in the 'Avondale' building, in Clapham, London. The impressive Edwardian building was the home of all courses before the Academy moved to Goswell Road; it now hosts the acting courses. The building features the Avondale Theatre, which can be adapted for a variety of productions and seats an audience of up to 152. The theatre has retractable seating which can be moved to offer one of London's largest rehearsal spaces. In addition, the Avondale building also has use of the Sheridan Studio Theatre, six acting and movement studios, a fully equipped recording studio, a sound studio, a TV edit studio, green room, IT facilities, a library, property store rooms, dressing rooms and student social spaces.

Italia Conti Arts Centre

The Italia Conti Arts Centre is in Guildford and houses the Performing Arts with Dance Teacher Training Course, as well as part-time associate courses. The Arts Centre has seven air conditioned studios with sprung floor and mirrors. Other facilities at the Arts Centre include a dance wear shop, a recording and video studio with editing suite, a class room, lounge and cafeteria area, student common rooms and changing rooms.

Associate schools

Listed below are the locations of associate school branches which take place around the country and provide courses in part-time performing arts training:

GCSE exams, tests, the school prom and End of Year School Performance. Each series followed a set of students during the school term. The series mainly featured the Theatre Arts School (Juniors) as well as occasionally featuring students from the various 16+ courses. School For Stars first aired in 2011 and a third series began on 2 September 2013. The show is narrated by Reggie Yates. [3]


In literature

The Italia Conti Academy is the inspiration for the drama school in At Freddie's , a novel by Penelope Fitzgerald, who taught at the academy in the 1960s. [4]

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  1. "History and Background". Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. Archived from the original on 9 July 2010. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  2. Granger, Rachel. "Rapid Scoping Study on Leicester Drama School" (PDF). De Montfort University Leicester. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  3. "Series 3 ‹ School for Stars". Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  4. "The Peripatetic Penelope Fitzgerald". Granta Magazine. 31 July 2017. Archived from the original on 21 September 2017. Retrieved 20 September 2017.

Coordinates: 51°31′20″N0°05′52″W / 51.52222°N 0.09778°W / 51.52222; -0.09778