The Department of Theatre of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre has been providing theatre education for more than 60 years, since the establishment of the theatre faculty in 1957. The theatre department of EAMT offers four-year bachelor level study programmes in acting, directing and dramaturgy and a two-year master’s programme for theatre practitioners, EAMT also offers an artistic research based programme in dramatic art at the doctorate level.
The theatre faculty of the Tallinn State Conservatorie was founded in 1957 by an Estonian theatre director, actor and pedagogue, Voldemar Panso, who led the faculty for 20 years. He had graduated from the Higher Theatre School of the Tallinn Conservatoire, founded in 1938, which however could not function for long due to the war and the German and Soviet occupations that followed. After graduating Panso went on to obtain his degree in directing from the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts in Moscow, where he studied under Maria Knebel and Aleksander Popov, both of them students of Stanislavski.
After founding the theatre faculty in 1957, Voldemar Panso built up his actor training method based on the methods of Stanislavski. In the following decades it was further advanced in the drama department by the theatre director and pedagogue, another long time head of the department, Ingo Normet, among others. Normet obtained his degree in directing at the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts under Anatoli Efros, a student of Maria Knebel. Normet developed the drama department during the period of Estonia restoring its independence in the 1990s: he opened the school up to different teaching methods from around the world, while also developing international relations, especially with theatre schools in Finland, the United Kingdom and Spain. He also founded the department’s extensive theatre-specialized library.
The teaching methods of the theatre department derive from the traditions of Estonian theatre and from those of Stanislavski, while also incorporating new developments in performing arts and influences from other European theatre schools. The pedagogues are theatre practitioners esteemed in Estonia and abroad, like Elmo Nüganen, Lembit Peterson, Anu Lamp, Jaak Prints, and many others. Historically, the drama department has mainly been oriented towards offering education in acting, but most of the renowned directors and many dramaturges of the current Estonian theatre field have also graduated from the drama department of the academy.
Graduates of the drama department work in all the prominent Estonian theatres as well as in film, television and radio, and have been acclaimed on the international level. The theatre department collaborates frequently with professional theatres in Estonia, as well as with partners in other theatre schools in Europe, especially the Nordic and Baltic countries.