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RADA's theatre in London
The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in Bloomsburymarker, Londonmarker, is generally regarded as one of the most renowned drama schools in the world, and is one of the oldest drama schools in the United Kingdommarker, having been founded in 1904.


RADA accepts 28 new students each year into its 3 year BA in Acting course. Admission is based on suitability and successful audition. RADA also teaches Technical Theatre & Stage Management (TTSM) - a 2 year Graduate Diploma course (which has recently changed its name to a Foundation Degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management). There are also specialist technical subjects through 4 term graduate certificate courses (in Theatre Design, Theatre Costume, Scenic Art (this course runs in partnership with the apprenticeship schemes of the Royal Opera Housemarker and The Royal National Theatremarker), Scenic Construction, Property Making and Stage Electrics and Lighting Design) and offers a Master (MA) in Text and Performance along with King's College London. Approximately 35 students are chosen each year for these courses.

RADA is administered through King's College Londonmarker, which is part of the University of London.

Current leadership

As of 2007, Lord Attenborough is President of RADA, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen is Chairman, and Alan Rickman and Michael Attenborough are the school's Vice-Chairmen. The Artistic Director is Edward Kemp.

Associate members

RADA has a number of notable associate members, including Jane Asher, Sir Michael Gambon, Robert Bourne, Kenneth Branagh, 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, Sir Trevor Nunn, Peter O’Toole, Dame Diana Rigg, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, Lord Snowdon, Shelley Thompson, Ian Carmichael, Alan Rickman and Sir Roger Moore.


  • 1909 -Kenneth Barnes, brother of the Vanbrugh sisters, is appointed Principal.

  • 1912 -George Bernard Shaw donates the royalties from Pygmalion to RADA, allowing the Academy eventually to benefit substantially from the success of My Fair Lady. Shaw gives occasional lectures to the students, including one called ‘Elementary Economics for Actors’. Pre-First World War graduates include Athene Seyler who later became President in 1950, Robert Atkins and Cedric Hardwicke. During this period Beerbohm Tree takes some forty Academy graduates into his company at His Majesty's.

  • 1921 -A new theatre is built in Malet Street, backing on to the Gower Street premises. This is opened by the Prince of Wales.

  • 1923 -John Gielgud, who will eventually become President and first Honorary Fellow of RADA, studies for a year at the Academy, playing 17 parts, including two Hamlets.

  • 1924 -The Academy receives its first government subsidy in the form of a Treasury Grant of £500.

  • 1927 -The two Georgian houses which make up the Gower Street site are replaced with a single new building. GBS donates £5,000 towards the cost.

  • 1941 -Richard Attenborough joins the Academy as a Leverhulme scholar. At the height of World War Two, the Academy's theatre is demolished during an air-raid. Public performances shift to the City Literary Institute and students also tour shows to the troops.

  • 1950 -George Bernard Shaw dies and leaves one third of all his royalties to RADA.

  • 1962 -The Stage Management course is introduced.

  • 1964 -The Vanbrugh Theatre Club is established.

  • 1967 -Following debate concerning RADA receiving funds from the Shaw bequest, the Government withdraws its annual grant.

  • 1970 -Specialist Technical Courses are established.

  • 1984 -Oliver Neville becomes Principal.

  • 1986 -The Acting Diploma Course is extended from seven to nine terms.

  • 1989 -HRH, The Princess of Wales, visits the Academy as President of Council to install her predecessor, Sir John Gielgud, as RADA's first Honorary Fellow.

  • 1990 -The Academy invests the capital accrued from the Shaw bequest in the freehold of 18 Chenies Street, with the help of donations from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts and British Telecommunications. King's College, London University, offers an MA in Text and Performance Study in conjunction with the Academy.

  • 1993 -Nicholas Barter becomes Principal. The ‘Friends of RADA’ is inaugurated and the Academy establishes its first courses for Japanese professional actors in Tokyo.

  • 1996 -RADA receives a £22.7m grant from the Arts Council National Lottery Board towards redeveloping the Academy's headquarters, including a complete re-build of the Vanbrugh Theatre and Malet Street premises. Council establishes a committee to raise the necessary ‘matching’ partnership funding of £8m over four years. Discretionary local authority grants are phased out within the next two years.

  • 1997 -The rebuilding of the Gower/Malet Street premises commences.

  • 1995/8 -The Academy extends its portfolio of Short Courses for British actors and special courses for American and Japanese students in London.

  • 1998 -The Vanbrugh Theatre Club is dissolved. Ellis Jones becomes Vice Principal; he is best known for his role as a young apprentice named 'Hal Adden', a pun that goes some way towards characterising the 1970s children's comedy series Pardon My Genie.

  • 2001 -The second stage of the Centenary Project that of creating new spaces for the Academy's work at no's 20 & 22 Chenies St, gets underway.

  • 2002 -University of London awards the 1st BA in Acting. RADA appoints a Dean of Studies. RADA library introduces a computerized circulation and security system. RADA Youth Group is launch in autumn 2002.

  • 2003 -Lord Attenborough becomes President of RADA and John Whitney appointed as Chairman. The Bristol Old Vic Theatre Schoolmarker and the Northern School of Contemporary Dance join the Conservatoire.

  • 2004 -RADA celebrates its Centenary. LAMDA, The Circus Space and Central School of Ballet join the Conservatoire for Dance & Drama.

  • 2005 - Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance, (joined 2005) joins the Conservatoire.

  • 2006 -The Academy aims to complete the refurbishment of the 20/22 Chenies Street premises by the end of the academic year.

  • 2006 -The Academy replaces the Friends of RADA with a new scheme for supporters, the RADA Stars.

  • 2007 -The Academy introduces its one-year drama Foundation Course, accepting 32 pupils per year.

  • 2007 - Nicholas Barter retires as Principal. The role of principal is removed and the new roles of 'Managing Director' filled by Jeremy Newton and 'Artistic Director' filled by Edward Kemp are created instead.

  • 2008 - The role of Managing Director is removed leaving Edward Kemp as the sole 'head' of RADA.


See List of RADA alumni


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