Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

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Type  Drama school
Director  Edward Kemp
Founder  Herbert Beerbohm Tree
Phone  +44 20 7636 7076
Colors  Black, White, Red
Established  1904
Location  London, England
Nickname  RADA
Founded  1904
President  Kenneth Branagh
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Affiliations  King's College London Conservatoire for Dance and Drama
Address  62-64 Gower St, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 6ED, UK
Notable alumni  Peter O'Toole, Richard Attenborough, Richard Johnson, Kenneth Branagh, Alan Rickman
Similar  King's College London, Rose Bruford College, Guildhall School of Music an, Royal Welsh College o, Oxford School of Drama

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) is a drama school in London, England. It is one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdom, founded in 1904 by Herbert Beerbohm Tree.


RADA is an affiliate school of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. Its higher education awards are validated by King's College London (King's) and its students graduate alongside members of the departments which form the King's Faculty of Arts & Humanities. It is based in the Bloomsbury area of Central London, close to the Senate House complex of the University of London.

Undergraduate students are eligible for government student loan through the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. RADA also has a significant scholarships and bursaries scheme, offering financial assistance to many students at the Academy.

The current director of the academy is Edward Kemp. The president is Sir Kenneth Branagh, the chairman is Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen and its vice-chairman was Alan Rickman until his death in 2016.


RADA was founded in 1904 by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree, an actor manager, at His Majesty's Theatre in the Haymarket. In 1905, RADA moved to 52 Gower Street, and a managing council was set up to oversee the school. Its members included George Bernard Shaw, who later donated his royalties from his play Pygmalion to RADA, and gave lectures to students at the school.

In 1920, RADA was granted a Royal Charter, and in 1921, a new theatre was built on Malet Street, behind the Gower Street buildings. The Prince of Wales opened the theatre. The Gower Street buildings were torn down in 1927, and replaced with a new building, financed by George Bernard Shaw, who also left one third of his royalties to the academy on his death in 1950.

In 1923, John Gielgud studied at RADA for a year. He later became President of the academy, and its first honorary fellow. A number of famous actors took on leading roles at RADA, such as Richard Attenborough, Oliver Neville, Nicholas Barter, and Alan Rickman.

Other 1924 saw RADA's first government subsidy, a grant of £500. The academy received other government funding over the years, including a £22.7m grant from the Arts Council National Lottery Board, which was used to renovate its premises, and rebuild the Varnbrugh Theatre.

In 2001, RADA joined forces with the London Contemporary dance School to create the UK's first Conservatoire for Dance and Drama. The Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance joined this Conservatoire in 2005.

RADA expanded its course offering over the years, adding Short Courses for actors and courses for American and Japanese students in London in 1995-98; a one-year drama Foundation Course in 2007; an MA in Text & Performance, affiliated with Birkbeck College in 2010; and an MA Theatre Lab course and a Sound Design in Theatre course in 2011.

RADA in Business

In 2000 the Academy founded RADA Enterprises Ltd, which includes RADA in Business, providing training in communications and teambuilding that uses drama training techniques in a business context. The profits are fed back into the Academy to fund students' training.


RADA is based in the Bloomsbury area of Central London. The main RADA building is on Gower Street (with a second entrance on Malet Street), with a second premises nearby in Chenies Street. The Goodge Street and Euston Square underground stations are both within walking distance.


RADA has five theatres and a cinema. In the Malet Street building, the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre is the largest performance space with a capacity of 183; the George Bernard Shaw Theatre is a black box theatre with a capacity of 100; and the John Gielgud Theatre is a black box theatre with a capacity of 70. There is also a 150-seat cinema. In January 2012, RADA acquired the lease to the adjacent Drill Hall venue in Chenies Street and renamed it RADA Studios. The Drill Hall is a Grade II listed building with a long performing arts history, and was where Nijinsky rehearsed with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes in 1911. This venue has a 200-seat space, the Studio Theatre, and a 50-seat space, the Club Theatre.

In April 2016, planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of the Chenies Street premises, to comprise the new Richard Attenborough Theatre (named after former President, Lord Attenborough), new library, archive and office spaces, a refectory with public access and the Academy’s first ever on-site student accommodation.


The RADA library contains around 30,000 items. Works include around 10,000 plays; works of or about biography, costume, criticism, film, fine art, poetry, social history, stage design, technical theatre and theatre history; screenplays; and theatre periodicals. The collection was started in 1904 with donations from actors and writers of the time such as Sir Squire Bancroft, William Archer, Arthur Wing Pinero and George Bernard Shaw.

Other facilities

Other facilities at RADA include acting studios, a scenic art workshop with paint frame, costume workrooms and extensive costume store, dance and fight studios, design studios, wood and metal workshops, sound studios, rehearsal studios, and the RADA Foyer Bar, which includes a fully licensed bar, a café and a box office.


RADA accepts up to 28 new students each year into its three-year BA in Acting course, with a 50-50 split of male and female students. Admission is based on suitability and successful audition, via the four-stage audition process. Auditions are held in London as well as in New York, Dublin, Manchester and Leicester. RADA also teaches Technical Theatre & Stage Management (TTSM) - a two-year Foundation Degree and with a further 'completion' year to BA level which has to be separately applied for and which allows for specialisation in all theatre craft areas. The TTSM course admits up to 36 students a year. There is also specialist technical training in Theatre Costume Making at Post Graduate level.

RADA’s postgraduate training currently comprises a MA Theatre Lab programme and a Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume (both validated by King's College London). RADA also jointly teaches an MA in Text and Performance with Birkbeck College, University of London, where students on this course are registered at Birkbeck and receive University of London degrees.

In addition, RADA offers a series of short courses, masterclasses and summer courses for a range of standards and ages. The Academy’s education and outreach work includes an Elders Company, Youth Company, schools’ workshops and the RADA Shakespeare Awards.

Associate members

RADA has a number of notable associate members including Jane Asher, Sir Michael Gambon, Robert Bourne, Sir Kenneth Branagh, Jon Cryer, Richard Digby Day, Trevor Eve, Ralph Fiennes, Edward Fox, Iain Glen, Gerald Harper, Sir Ian Holm, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sir Derek Jacobi, Patricia Kneale, Paul McGann, Dame Helen Mirren, Alex Kingston, Sir Trevor Nunn, Dame Diana Rigg, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Lord Snowdon, Shelley Thompson, Alan Rickman, Timothy Dalton, Sir Roger Moore, Steve McFadden and Dame Joan Collins who serves as the Honorary President of the RADA Associates.

Notable alumni

  • Mark Addy - (Game of Thrones, The Full Monty)
  • Jonas Armstrong - (Robin Hood, Edge of Tomorrow)
  • Gemma Arterton - (Quantum of Solace, Clash of the Titans)
  • Richard Attenborough - (The Great Escape, Jurassic Park)
  • David Bamber - (Pride and Prejudice, Valkyrie)
  • Sean Bean - (The Lord of the Rings, GoldenEye)
  • Stephen Beresford - (The Last of the Haussmans, Pride)
  • Eve Best - (The Honourable Woman, The King's Speech)
  • Michael Blakemore - (Privates on Parade)
  • Peter Bowles - (To The Manor Born, I, Claudius)
  • Kenneth Branagh - (Henry V, My Week with Marilyn)
  • Jessie Buckley – (War and Peace)
  • Bertie Carvel - (Matilda the Musical, Doctor Foster)
  • Lolita Chakrabarti - (Red Velvet, Jekyll & Hyde)
  • Joan Collins - (Dynasty, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing)
  • Jon Cryer - (Two and a Half Men, Pretty in Pink)
  • Arthur Darvill - (Doctor Who, Broadchurch)
  • Frank Dillane - (Fear The Walking Dead, Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince)
  • Taron Egerton - (Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle)
  • Cynthia Erivo – (I Can’t Sing, The Color Purple)
  • Trevor Eve – (Shoestring, Waking the Dead)
  • Ralph Fiennes - (Schindler's List, Harry Potter)
  • Albert Finney – (Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Erin Brockovich)
  • Edward Fox - (The Day of the Jackal, Edward & Mrs. Simpson)
  • Laurence Fox – (Lewis, Elizabeth: The Golden Age)
  • John Gielgud - (Arthur, Gandhi)
  • Eva Gray - (Marilyn Monroe, Sooty)
  • Ioan Gruffudd - (Titanic, Fantastic Four)
  • Maggie Gyllenhaal - (The Dark Knight, Crazy Heart)
  • Sheila Hancock (Cabaret, Sweeney Todd)
  • Terry Hands - (founder of Liverpool Everyman Theatre, artistic director of Royal Shakespeare Company)
  • David Harewood - (Homeland, The Night Manager)
  • Rosemary Harris – (Tom & Viv, Holocaust)
  • Nyasha Hatendi – (Casual)
  • Sally Hawkins - (Blue Jasmine, Godzilla)
  • Linda Hemming (costume designer, Topsy-Turvy)
  • Tom Hiddleston - (Thor, War Horse, The Night Manager)
  • Ciarán Hinds - (Munich, Frozen)
  • Ian Holm - (Alien, The Lord of the Rings)
  • Anthony Hopkins - (The Silence of the Lambs, Amistad)
  • Jane Horrocks (Little Voice, Absolutely Fabulous)
  • Trevor Howard - (Brief Encounter, The Third Man)
  • John Hurt - (Alien, The Elephant Man)
  • Glenda Jackson – (Women in Love, Sunday Bloody Sunday)
  • Marianne Jean-Baptiste - (Secrets & Lies, Broadchurch)
  • Celia Johnson – (Brief Encounter, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie)
  • Gemma Jones – (Sense and Sensibility, Bridget Jones's Diary)
  • Alex Kingston - (ER, Doctor Who)
  • Vivien Leigh - (Gone with the Wind, A Streetcar Named Desire)
  • Mike Leigh, director – (Abigail’s Party, Secrets & Lies)
  • Anton Lesser – (Wolf Hall, Endeavour)
  • Adrian Lester – (Hustle, Henry V)
  • Robert Lindsay (My Family, Me and My Girl)
  • Andrew Lincoln - (The Walking Dead, Love Actually)
  • Joan Littlewood, director (A Taste of Honey, Oh, What a Lovely War!)
  • Matthew Macfadyen - (Pride & Prejudice, The Three Musketeers)
  • Stehpen Mangan - (Episodes, Postman Pat)
  • Daniel Mays – (Ashes to Ashes, Line of Duty)
  • Gugu Mbatha-Raw - (Belle, Jupiter Ascending)
  • Steve McFadden - (EastEnders)
  • Paul McGann - (Withnail and I, Alien 3)
  • Ian McShane - (Deadwood, The Pillars of the Earth)
  • Janet McTeer - (Wuthering Heights, Tumbleweeds)
  • Tobias Menzies - (Rome, Game of Thrones, Outlander)
  • Roger Moore – (James Bond)
  • Dean Norris - (Breaking Bad, Under the Dome)
  • Rufus Norris – (artistic director, National Theatre)
  • Sophie Okonedo - (Hotel Rwanda, Dirty Pretty Things)
  • Joe Orton, playwright - (Loot, What the Butler Saw)
  • Peter O'Toole - (Lawrence of Arabia, The Lion in Winter)
  • Clive Owen - (Children of Men, Sin City)
  • Bruce Payne - (Passenger 57, Highlander: Endgame)
  • Maxine Peake – (Silk, The Village)
  • Siân Phillips - (I, Claudius, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy)
  • Jonathan Pryce - (Brazil, Pirates of the Caribbean)
  • Jessica Raine - (Call the Midwife, Jericho)
  • Robert Reed - (The Brady Bunch, Roots)
  • Anne Reid – (Dinnerladies, Last Tango in Halifax)
  • Matthew Rhys – (Brothers & Sisters, The Americans)
  • Paul Rhys – (The Assets, Chaplin)
  • John Rhys-Davies - (The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones)
  • Alan Rickman - (Harry Potter, Die Hard)
  • Diana Rigg - (The Avengers, Game of Thrones)
  • Andrea Riseborough - (Birdman, Oblivion)
  • Mark Rylance – (Wolf Hall, Bridge of Spies)
  • Peter Sallis – (Last of the Summer Wine, Wallace and Gromit)
  • Liev Schreiber - (Scream, Ray Donovan)
  • Pippa Scott - (The Searchers, Auntie Mame)
  • Omar Sharif - (Funny Girl, Lawrence of Arabia)
  • Robert Shaw - (Jaws, A Man for All Seasons)
  • Michael Sheen - (Masters of Sex, Tron: Legacy)
  • Timothy Spall - (Mr. Turner, The King's Speech)
  • Imelda Staunton - (Vera Drake, Another Year)
  • Juliet Stevenson - (Truly, Madly, Deeply, Bend it Like Beckham)
  • John Thaw - (Inspector Morse, Kavanagh QC)
  • Jason Watkins - (Being Human, Lark Rise to Candleford)
  • David Warner - (Star Trek, Titanic)
  • Ben Whishaw - (Skyfall, Paddington)
  • June Whitfield – (Terry and June, Absolutely Fabulous)
  • Tom Wilkinson - (Michael Clayton, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind)
  • Michael Williams – (Elizabeth R, Educating Rita)
  • Richard Wilson – (One Foot in the Grave, Merlin)
  • Edward Woodward - (The Wicker Man, The Equalizer)
  • Owain Yeoman - (The Mentalist, Troy)
  • Susannah York - (They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Superman)
  • References

    Royal Academy of Dramatic Art Wikipedia