ALRA Acting Schools in London & Manchester

Local hotspots

Wandsworth: What you need to know

Wandsworth is close-by to Clapham Junction which is a buzzing urban hub of cocktail bars, night clubs and high street shops. Rent prices go down a little as you go towards Tooting which has more fruit and veg stalls than you can shake a courgette at. Tooting is split into Tooting Bec and Tooting Broadway, Broadway is the more lively end with pubs and their own little night club, The Tram and Social. Tooting Bec is the favourite for most of our students to reside in because there is one straight bus up to ALRA South, the 219 bus, although be warned: this is by no means reliable and we suggest students get hold of a bicycle and helmet which can be bought in the Halfords in Tooting Bec.

There are several gyms and leisure centres in and around Balham/ Tooting with cost of around £30 a month it might just be cheaper to take a run around the local Wandsworth or Tooting Commons!

Other areas our students live in are: Balham, Streatham, Colliers Wood or Earlsfield. Earlsfield is just a 10 minute walk from ALRA is full of upmarket boutiques and rather pricey cafes although it is certainly a lovely place to live. Earlsfield doesn’t connect to the underground but you can be in Waterloo in 15 minutes from Earlsfield Rail Station. Tooting connects to the Northern line at both Tooting Broadway and Tooting Bec.

You’ll find Streatham is one of the cheaper areas to live too, although it has no access to the underground a bicycle will be essential to you!

Nights out

Although you’ll find very little time to go out and about our students often plan monthly nights out in central London, but be prepared to spend upwards of £50. There are an infinite number of restaurants and night clubs in London, a good place to find something a little unique is Secret London:

A popular, (if not unashamedly tacky) club and favourite of the students is Infernos in Clapham and a good place to catch live bands locally is The Grand in Clapham

All in all, you’ll never be short of things to do in London, whether you’re after cheap student deals on hot new theatre, comedy or just a good night out there’s always somewhere to go; you’ll just need to keep a close watch on how much you’re spending!

Best theatre:

Housed in Battersea’s original town hall, a Grade II listed building,Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) is a place of exceptional artistic output. Punchdrunk’s unsettling interactive play The Masque of the Red Death opened here before the company moved onto international fame withSleep No More tearing the New York theatre scene apart throughout 2011. Richard Thomas’Jerry Springer- The Opera also premiered here before moving to the Royal National Theatre to rave reviews.

Best restaurant:

Wandsworth’s one and only Michelin stared restaurant, Chez Bruce, made this category fairly easy to decide. Placed overlooking Wandsworth Common Brian Poole’s stylish outpost is among the best restaurants in London.

Best space:

Split almost exactly in half between Wandsworth and Lambeth, Clapham Common could be seen as a contentious winner. Cedars Road marks the dividing line and if we’re being honest Lambeth nabbed a lot of the spoils — the skatepark, the pond, the basketball courts and the plot for the phenomenal SW4 festival. With this in mind we’re going to ignore the borough line — it’s not like there’s a toll booth. In reality this is just a wide open expanse of green which is an example to the rest of London in the way it is utilised by the entire community.

Best landmark:

Young’s brewery in Wandsworth Town is, as of 2006, no longer functional. That does not stop this being an incredible landmark. This is the oldest brewery site in Britain and has given birth to the largest and most successful pub franchise in the country. You can’t swing a cat without hitting a Young’s pub and this is where it all began.

Best secret:

As with most secrets in London this is no kind of secret at all. Getting a table at Meze in Tooting is a thing of great skill. From the outside it looks like any other small restaurant/take away shop of Mediterranean origin, and the inside is only notable for the lack of free tables. The food, however, is exceptional value for money and of the very highest order. Make sure you book and don’t tell anyone we sent you, it’s supposed to be a secret after all.

Best bar:

This is not the best borough for bars but Wandsworth has one or two saving graces. Lost Angel is the pick of the bunch with fantastic cocktails, a late night licence and a sizeable garden. Do remember, however, it is lost. Don’t be disheartened by the desolate road, you’ll find it eventually.

Best atmosphere:

Sitting in Battersea Square is our pick of things to do in Wandsworth. It is a little slice of the continent. Tucked behind two domineering council estates this is a place for people in the know. Pick a sunny day and you may not want to leave.

Best music:

The Bedford in Balham has, over the years, garnered a reputation as one London’s best music venues. Turn up any night and expect to see something special. Paolo Nutini, KT Tunstall and James Morrison are among a vast list of successful artists who cite the Bedford as a launching point for their careers.

Best food shop:

Bit of an odd one this. Snoggy’s is a South African food store on Upper Richmond Road in the far Western corner of the borough. Quite a pilgrimage for many but they boast the best biltong in London. Other South African treats adorn the shelves but the ceiling is filled with dried strips of the best meat you could ask for.

Best pub:

The Antelope on Mitcham Road is a fantastic pub. A mish-mash of furniture and a vast expanse of space greets you as you walk in. The food is the real selling point with a fantastic ever-changing menu.

Wigan: What you need to know

History of Wigan

Wigan is well known for its music since the days of George Formby Sr and George Formby Jr. It was the birthplace of The Eight Lancashire Lads a dancing troupe who gave the young Charlie Chaplin his professional debut. 

Local bands that gained wider repute include The Verve, The Railway Children, Witness, The Tansads, Limahl of Kajagoogoo and Starsailor.

The Verve were one of the most important British rock groups of the 1990s, finding success in the UK and abroad. The band was formed when the members met at Winstanley College in 1989.

Wigan has hosted an international jazz festival for over 30 years. Wigan remains a centre of popular music for young people, with a number of alternative pubs/clubs in the town centre. The town also has a music collective which exists to promote the scene and help out local musicians and bands. They host bi-weekly gigs at The Tudor and also host various other activities such as the annual Haigh Hall Music Festival, which attracted around 7,000 guests in 2007. The Collective also offers recording sessions and gig advice for young musicians.Throughout the early 1990s The Den was a popular venue for bands with acts such as Green Day heading over to play. The Lux Club was a popular venue during the mid-2000s before it too was demolished. The town currently has a host of venues putting on gigs for upcoming local bands including The Tudor, The Kaff, Indiependence, Kings Electric, The Boulevard, and The Swinley. 

Wigan is home to the annual World Pie Eating Championship, usually held at Harry's Bar on Wallgate. The competition has been held since 1992, and in 2006 a vegetarian option was added. Wiganers are sometimes referred to as "pie-eaters". The name is said to date from the 1926 General Strike, when Wigan miners were starved back to work 

Nights out: 

Wigan town centre isn't just known for its shopping, it also has one of the best night lifes in the North West. King Street is the heart of Wigan's club land with pubs and clubs from many of the major chains including: Chicago Rock, JD Wetherspoons, Jumpin Jacks, Revolution Bar and Reflex.


Wigan Little Theatre is an intimate 230-seater theatre and we aim to maintain a very high standard of entertainment in this historic and beautiful building. Productions have been praised for being excellent value for money and of a very professional standard. The theatre is an exciting, friendly and vibrant place! Whether you are a regular patron, a new audience member or someone who wants to start getting involved, you can be sure of a warm Wigan welcome!

Bolton Octogan

The Octagon produces between eight and nine professional theatre productions a year in its Main Auditorium. Productions come from a wide range of types and genres, including classic drama, contemporary plays, comedies and musicals.

In recent years, the Octagon has specialised in producing great American drama including works by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.

The Octagon also runs its BoltON season, which runs alongside the season of plays in the Main Auditorium, with events investigating or complimenting the main season. This ranges from professional practical workshops to full day Investigate Days with casts and creative team.

In addition to its own productions, the Octagon also plays host to touring shows, including touring theatre, children's plays and stand-up comedy.

Oldham Coliseum

Found on Fairbottom Street in the town centre, Oldham's Coliseum is a repertory theatre which celebrated its centenary in 1987. Its interior makes it a great period classic in theatre terms, and has seen the likes of local performers such as Eric Sykes, Charlie Chaplin, Dame Thora Hird and Dora Bryan tread its boards. 

Best restaurant 

Boasting an extensive menu, the Raj has dishes to suit everyone's taste. Whether its traditional dishes like the Tikka Mossala and Madras, or one of our more exotic dishes from our special award winning signature dishes selection like the 'Tiger Prawn Paheli' –All dishes are available as vegetarian options.

just a couple of minutes drive from Wigan town centre and a visit to the modern contemporary restaurant is a great way to spend any evening out! There is a large onsite car park. Whether it's family, an office party, a birthday celebration or just a simple casual bite to eat –the Raj can look after your hospitality needs.

Best Space

Once the home of Earls and Lords, Haigh Hall is surrounded by 250 acres of park and woodland, with magnificent views across the Douglas Valley to the Welsh Hills.  

Explore and enjoy the stunning parkland, woodland and plantations, and enjoy one of our regular events in the park and the beautiful Georgian hall.

Other facilities include a café, 18-hole golf course, crazy golf, segway sessions and craft units.

Best landmark

The Museum of Wigan Life (formerly Wigan Central Library) opened in 1878. A one-year restoration programme began in 2009 costing £1.9 million. George Orwell used it to research The Road to Wigan Pier.Today, the Wigan Pier Quarter is at the heart of a 10-year regeneration programme that began in 2006 to revitalise the area. Part of Wigan's industrial heritage, Trencherfield Mill was built in 1907 and is a Grade II listed building. It houses a steam engine over 100 years old which was restored with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund.The quarter is also home to the Wigan Pier Theatre Company, which was founded in 1986.The Face of Wigan, located in the town centre since 2008, is a stainless steel sculpture of a face. Created by sculptor Rick Kirby, The Face stands 5.5 m (18 ft) tall and cost £80,000.

Best Pub

Harry's Bar is one of Wigan's finest and oldest pubs. If you're from Wigan, you know Harry's, and even if you're not, we wouldn't be surprised if you knew it!

Home of The World Pie Eating Championships this boozer is a must visit! Harry's is open every day and serves a fine pint. There is also a great selection of real ales on offer. 

Located right in the town centre of Wigan, near both train stations and the bus station. For any weekend drinkers we are also right in the middle of Wigan's main nightlife area.

Best music:

Giving people more than a drink and a chat is one thing that The Boulevard does best, they have DJ's that cover rock to soul, bands that cover metal to the 60's and comedians to make you laugh.

If your in a band and want a gig then get in touch with The Boulevard.

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