The Drama School of Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre has offered theatre education in Estonian for more than 60 years. The school grants a four year bachelor education for actors, directors and dramaturgs, two year specialized master programmes for theatre practitioners and a four year artistic research education at the doctorate level.
The Drama School was started in 1957 by the actor, theatre director and pedagogue Voldemar Panso who was the headmaster for 20 years. The theatre education in Estonia in the beginning of the 20th century had followed the example of the studios at the Moscow Art Theatre. In 1938, the Higher Theatre School of the Tallinn Conservatoire opened its doors, but could not function for long due to the war and the German and Soviet occupations that followed. Voldemar Panso was one of the graduates of the Theatre School at the conservatoire and later obtained his director’s education at the Insitute of Theatre Arts of Moscow under Maria Knebel and Aleksander Popov – both students of Stanislavski.
Panso built up a solid Stanislavski-based training method. It was further developed among others by the theatre director and pedagogue, another long time headmaster, Ingo Normet. Normet obtained his director’s degree under Anatoli Efros – the student of Maria Knebel. Normet developed the Drama School during the period of Estonia’s re-independence in the 1990s: he founded the best performing arts library in Estonia and opened the education up to different methods worldwide, also developing international relations especially with Finnish, British and Spanish theatre schools. The current headmaster of the school, Jaak Prints, is Normet’s student.
The methods used in the teaching process of the Drama School spring from the traditions of the Estonian theatre and from the ones of Stanislavski and during the recent decades, from the knowledge acquired from the other European theatre schools. The Drama School has mainly been oriented towards the education of actors, but most of the renown directors and dramaturgs of the present-time Estonia have also graduated this school. The pedagogues are renowned practitioners of their field in Estonia and also abroad: the directors Tiit Ojasoo, Elmo Nüganen and Lembit Peterson, to name a few.
The graduates of the Drama School work in all of the Estonian theatres as well as in television, radio, cinema, etc. In recent years, some of the graduates have made a remarkable international career in the performing arts field, like Risto Kübar (Münchner Kammerspiele, NT Gent), Sergo Vares (Lyric Hammersmith), etc.
The Drama School of EAMT is oriented towards internationalization and combining theatre practice with research. The school organizes international conferences in the fields of theatre pedagogy and artistic research, issues publications and aims towards becoming a leading performing arts research centre in Estonia.