Guildford School of Acting (GSA), originally known as the Grant-Bellairs School of Dance and Drama, was founded in London in 1935 by Pauline Grant and Bice Bellairs. The school moved to Guildford in 1945 as a result of World War II. In 1964, the school became a charitable organisation and was renamed Guildford School of Acting & Dance. In the early 1990s the '& Dance' was dropped. Today the school is part of the University of Surrey's Stag Hill Campus, Guildford, Surrey.
The school offers professional training and academic degrees in theatre, dance, acting, musical theatre and production skills such as stage management, lighting and sound design. Following a re-structure in 2016, GSA now includes the well-established academic programmes in Theatre & Performance and Dance which had previously been part of the university's School of Arts. Surrey has a long association with dance having been the first university in the UK to validate a single honours dance degree. The university also hosts the National Resource Centre for Dance established in 1982. All full-time courses lead towards further and higher education qualifications validated by either the University of Surrey or Trinity College London. A leading performing arts school, GSA is recognised as a centre of excellence for Musical Theatre training alongside research specialisms in performance philosophy and contemporary theatre practice.
Until November 2009, the School occupied several sites in central Guildford, with facilities including drama, dance and music studios, technical workshops, IT facilities, a specialist library and resource centre, a wardrobe department, rehearsal rooms and two in-house theatres. As part of its merger with the University of Surrey, the school has moved to a completely new building which houses all faculties of the school on one site on the university campus. Peter Barlow, GSA Director (until December 2010), was handed the keys by project manager David Austin (VolkerFitzpatrick) on 13 November 2009, marking a new era for GSA, with the first classes at the new building started on 16 November. The relocation was completed in late 2011 with the opening of the Ivy Performing Arts Centre.
Current management staff: Sean McNamara, Dr. Patrick Duggan, Anna McNamara, Dr. Jaq Bessell, Dr. Trevor Rawlins, Phyllida Crowley-Smith, Joanne Franklin, and Julian Woolford. The school stages regular private and public performances at both The Ivy Arts Centre and other venues in Guildford and in the UK. In 2015 the school added a course in Actor-Musicianship which will produce its first graduates in 2018. The school runs regular summer schools and Easter schools and has two foundation courses one in Acting and the other in Musical Theatre.