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*** Cygnet is still open for Applications for September 2020 ***

Cygnet Theatre has forty years’ experience of helping young actors to develop their individual qualities.

Actors joining Cygnet’s unique full-time professional training:

  • work as part of an ensemble (Cygnet Company), committed to public performances from day one.
  • learn from expert professionals, their peers and their audiences

Cygnet graduates have gone on to work successfully for stage, film TV and Radio, form their own companies and found theatres.

Click here to download our Cygnet Prospectus

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“The Cygnet Theatre is unique in its training of actors. At some drama schools there is an emphasis on theory with actual performance being the end in view rather than a regular process. When I saw “The Long Mirror”, it was a joy to see J.B. Priestley’s little-known play,  performed by young actors learning on the job, guided by an expert, their director Richard Digby-Day, once director of the professionals at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre .

The Cygnet’s method is eminently practical and reminded me of my own early invaluable experience as an actor in regional repertory companies, tackling play after play through the year.  Audiences taught me more than any academic class could.

In future, when I am asked what an aspiring actor can do to advance their hopes for a career in live theatre, I shall recommend applying for a place at The Cygnet.” Sir Ian McKellen, Feb 2018 


Ian McKellen with the Cygnet Company and cast of
The Long Mirror directed by Richard Digby Day
February 2018.
Image by Benjamin J Borley

Our Three Year Professional Acting course is an on-going developmental process. Student actors learn technical skills and key approaches whilst playing increasingly demanding roles in front of a paying public. Students gain practical  experience of various theatrical styles from Ancient Greek theatre to classical and modern works  including devising and new writing.


The Merry Wives of Windsor (Cygnet Production 2019)
Directed by Amanda Knott
      Image by Jorbein Photography

Cygnet Theatre plays a key role in the region’s arts scene, supporting local artists to present their own work at our venue and with over 60 performances in professional venues in Exeter and on tour: Exeter Northcott, Poltimore House and The Actors Centre, London. In addition, touring to local communities with summer tours of the West Country bring the Theatre School’s work to new audiences in the wider and varied communities.

Short courses and workshops are run for those wanting to develop their stage or screen acting, whilst the Theatre School’s thriving youth theatre, Cygnet Youth Theatre, runs throughout the year to engage with school age young people. These activities build self-confidence and team working as well as instilling a lifelong love of drama.

‘So rehearsal, listening to the others, getting closer and closer to the partner, improvisation and then the presence of an audience are all the tools for sharpening the actor’s inbuilt sensitivity. This is method without method.’

Cygnet graduates leave with confidence, skills and experience in all the areas that a modern working actor needs; a personal discipline about keeping up the physical and vocal skills the craft demands; experience of at least twelve productions played to a paying public audience; experience of touring to a variety of venues; knowledge of how to set up a company and to make their own work; experience in showcases in a variety of venues in the South West and London; a show-reel of film clips (original work); the opportunity to make a voice-reel with our resident radio expert but most importantly a network of working Cygnet actors (Swans) with whom to share experience, information and contacts.

Click here to download our Cygnet Prospectus