The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London

Introduction

An introduction to Central from the Principal.

Professor Gavin
Henderson, CBE
Principal

Central stands at the forefront of training and research in the Dramatic Arts. Graduate employment statistics are amongst the highest in our sector, and our research has recently been assessed as ‘World Leading’ – and is unique in the realm of drama conservatoires. The ratio of undergraduate applications to places is the highest of any UK university.

Whilst our actors win many of the most coveted awards, worldwide, and frequent accolades in the media, a broad range of industry organisations rank Central as the gold standard in leadership of technical and design work. So too, Central continues as a pioneering force in the application of dramatic skills in many social contexts.

We hope that you will wish to explore the range of courses, both undergraduate and postgraduate, set out on this website. Do visit for an open day, or come to our regular public productions – focused around the historic Embassy Theatre.

Our facilities are widely regarded to be exemplary with further specialised studios and performance spaces to be added as part of a dynamic new development.

A short note by Professor Simon Shepherd, Professor Emeritus of Theatre.

Elsie Fogerty founded The Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art at the Royal Albert Hall in 1906. Fogerty was a specialist in speech training. She also had a firm belief in the social importance of education. The students of her school quickly became famous for their delivery in verse-speaking competitions, their appearance in theatres, and their work with children in the deprived areas of London. While Central developed a name for actor training, its founder was at the same time committed to advancing the study of theatre as an academic discipline.

Long before the founding of the first university drama department in the UK, Fogerty argued that theatre should be studied at university and that theatre training should be awarded degrees.

In 1937 Fogerty was offered space on the site at that time earmarked for the National Theatre building, with the college alongside the theatre. But that scheme, like many of the National Theatre schemes, fell through. In 1957 the School at last moved from the Albert Hall, having acquired the lease of the Embassy Theatre at Swiss Cottage and its associated buildings.

The Embassy had a reputation, from the 1930s, for experimental and politically left-wing theatre. By 1957 this reputation had faded. When Central arrived it was both rescuing an old theatre and weaving it into the fabric of new college buildings. At least that was the plan: inevitably funds had to be raised. On this occasion the champion was Sir John Davis. His work in pursuing endowments established the resources to build a new building. This was opened in 1961 by Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Kent, who was then Central’s Patron.

By 1961 three distinct departments had been established within Central. The Stage department was running its three-year course for actors, with alumni as distinguished as Lord Olivier and Dame Peggy Ashcroft already a part of its history, and a two-year course for stage managers. The Teacher Training department was preparing students for its own Diploma, then a recognised teaching qualification, and for the London University Diploma in Dramatic Art. That qualification had been instituted in 1912 precisely as a result of Fogerty’s campaign for the recognition of drama and drama teaching as subjects worthy of proper academic study. By this time the college was as famous for its Speech Therapy department as for its work in training actors.

Building work continued. In June 1972 a new studio was built on the corner of Buckland Crescent and formally opened by the School’s new patron, Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra. Central became grant-aided by the Inner London Education Authority in 1972. In 1989 it was ‘incorporated’ as a higher education college in its own right and funded directly by government. It had been offering degrees since 1986, first of all validated by the Council of National Academic Awards. From 1992 its degrees were validated by the Open University.

From the early 1990s onwards, extensive building work has taken place: a new workshop facility was opened in 1991. In the summer of 1993 an extension was added to the Embassy Theatre – a studio theatre, design studios and wardrobe facilities. In 1997 the college completed a five-storey block to the east of the campus, providing a new library, a learning resources centre and computing facilities, a student common room, student bar and staff offices. A refurbished Embassy Theatre was opened in 2002 and followed in 2005 by the West Block, with its several floors of state-of-the-art performance spaces and rehearsal rooms.

In 2005 the Privy Council granted the college the power to award its own taught degrees. In the same year students from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art transferred to Central, bringing with them the academy’s 100-year history of significant contributions to stage and screen. In that year the School was the only specialist theatre institution to win the award of Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, becoming the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s designated Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre. Its purpose as a Centre for Excellence is to provide a national resource for vocational performing arts training and learning, a focus for theatre research and scholarship, and a site for national and international collaboration.

With effect from September 2005 Central became a College of the University of London and in so doing fulfilled Elsie Fogerty’s original ambitions. And then in 2012 came new recognition... Fogerty used to say that while the Principal of the Academy of Dramatic Art had been seeking royal title for his institution, she had been too busy working with children in the slums to do that sort of thing. But a century later the achievement of the college she founded properly got its recognition when in November 2012 Her Majesty the Queen conferred Royal Title on Central.

This school offers programs in:
  • English

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Programs

This school also offers:

BA

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Acting

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

A comprehensive classical and contemporary actor training, this demanding course nurtures students through a life-changing journey, in which they are challenged to achieve their full potential as actors and acquire skills for working in the full range of acting contexts. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Acting Overview A comprehensive classical and contemporary actor training, this demanding course nurtures students through a life-changing journey, in which they are challenged to achieve their full potential as actors and acquire skills for working in the full range of acting contexts. About the course The philosophy of the course can be summed up by the words, ‘embodiment’, ‘imagination’ and ‘interaction’. The training develops the actor’s body and voice as strong and effective communicators of thought, emotion and intention, and opens up the imagination so that the actor can create and sustain three-dimensional worlds from the playwright’s text. These processes invariably take place in an interactive context so that the actor is constantly learning to respond to outside stimuli – whether people, objects or atmosphere – in an open and uncensored way. Students are entitled to full Equity status upon graduation. Course Detail Year 1 Freeing and discovering: students start from the uniqueness of self within the group context and the rigour of the training studio, and learn to work with truth and integrity, opening up and releasing the body, voice and imagination, and developing a personal process and craft through which to build character and live truthfully within a fictional world. By learning to live and breathe in the moment, students start to discover the creative potential of the acting space. Year 2 Stretching and growing: building on this experience, students expand their physical and emotional range, developing the art of transformation and working imaginatively... [-]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

This course explores performance that takes place outside of traditional theatre buildings, which can bring about change and transformation with the participants who create it. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre and Education Overview This course explores performance that takes place outside of traditional theatre buildings, which can bring about change and transformation with the participants who create it. About the course Students on the Drama, Applied Theatre and Education (BA DATE) course learn to make theatre and acquire a practical knowledge and understanding of how theatre-making can be harnessed to change lives and inspire new possibilities. Focusing on a wide range of practices that take place in numerous and diverse settings – such as schools, hospitals, prisons, pupil referral units, refugees camps, community centres, playgrounds, parks, and nursing homes, in the UK and abroad – the course has a long heritage of innovative and cutting-edge research and practice. BA DATE graduates are highly employable and lead the field in applied theatre internationally. The BA Drama, Applied Theatre and Education course receives substantial support from The Leverhulme Trust. This unique funding of over £60,000 a year (from September 2016) is specifically to enable both BA and MA applied theatre students to undertake projects and placements in the UK and abroad. Course Detail Year 1 Students study and explore concepts and ideas relating to applied theatre and performance in lecture programmes, using a number of different approaches. They are introduced to drama in a range of community and educational contexts, undertake practical units such as devising, and are also involved in a production. Currently, this production is a major project spread over the entire summer... [-]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Performance Arts

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

By focusing on critical inquiry and experimentation with new methodologies, students develop new and challenging performance forms rooted in a rigorous engagement with the skills, theories and histories of theatre and other performance arts. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Performance Arts Overview Develop your identity as a performance art maker and producer on a course which fosters independent and collaborative creative practice. By focusing on critical inquiry and experimentation with new methodologies, students develop new and challenging performance forms rooted in a rigorous engagement with the skills, theories and histories of theatre and other performance arts. About the course This course’s integration of artistic development with performance and production skills prepares students to become independent practitioners and/or to work in key organisational, administrative and artistic positions across the arts. In the first two years, students take part in a programme that seeks to develop their practice in three key areas: text/theory, body/movement, and materials/technology. In the final year students choose an area of focus, which will be developed and contextualised within independent projects. The course is tailored towards the development of an individual creative identity in the context of collaborative work, where students undertake different roles and positions to challenge their own process and ways of working. Course Detail Year 1 Building on historical, theoretical and practical foundations of theatre and performance arts, students acquire fundamental skills in dramaturgy and writing for and about performance, contemporary movement practices, and working with materials and technologies. They will produce short pieces of work across collaborative projects, involving installation, textual practices, immersive and traditional performance techniques. This is supported by skills sessions in applying research methods, reflective practice, processes of documentation and criticism. Year 2 The focus in... [-]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Puppetry: Design and Performance

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

Central pioneered the first UK degree in puppet theatre and continues to be one of the world’s leading institutions for the training of puppeteers, attracting national and international students. This course embraces the three concepts of design, performance and theatre making. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Puppetry: Design and Performance Overview Central pioneered the first UK degree in puppet theatre and continues to be one of the world’s leading institutions for the training of puppeteers, attracting national and international students. This course embraces the three concepts of design, performance and theatre making. About the course Students develop specific puppetry making, manipulation and performance skills, and also work closely with designers and performance arts students on collaborative projects to explore multi-disciplinary work in which puppets and animated forms perform alongside scenography, new writing, movement and experimental performance practices. Skills in design, sculpture, manipulation, visual performance, animation, movement, voice, devising and collaborative theatre making are developed. The course aims to develop practitioners who are able to initiate and develop their own projects as well as collaborating closely with others within a discipline that requires both technique and creativity. Course Detail Year 1 Make, perform and direct: An introduction to a range of collaborative and course-specific projects in order to explore puppet making and animation processes, principles of movement, writing, design skills, voice work, acting, animation and manipulation, and application of manipulation skills to specific projects. Puppetry students create a performance in response to a text and develop installation, site-specific and immersive theatre in collaboration with students on Central’s other courses. They also research traditional puppetry forms and contemporary puppetry companies of note. Year 2 Write, create: Collaborations with Performance Arts and Design for the Stage students on experimental and speculative performance projects; and development... [-]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Scenic Construction

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

Learn to plan and build sets, and develop skills such as carpentry, structural design, metal work and mechanical engineering. Training will principally be in theatre, but the skills learnt are easily transferable to many different media environments, including film, television and advertising. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Scenic Construction Overview Learn to plan and build sets, and develop skills such as carpentry, structural design, metal work and mechanical engineering. Training will principally be in theatre, but the skills learnt are easily transferable to many different media environments, including film, television and advertising. About the course Scenic constructers need to be creative problem-solvers who use ideas and solutions that are drawn from all aspects of engineering and industrial practice to aid the creation of sets or staging. Students will learn to be autonomous and resourceful, and to develop specific skills to the high professional level required by industry. From the second year students have the opportunity to work in professional contexts, such as in venues, scenery building companies, or organisations doing events, television or advertising. This course is ideal for those with a strong interest in building with wood and metal, but who also want a creative career. Course Detail Year 1 Learning about a variety of materials, including woodworking tools, hand-held tools and machinery. Students will build specific elements of scenery, working to a professional designer’s specifications and closely with technicians to plan how scenery might be rigged to fit within either a studio or a main-house space. Learning specific carpentry techniques, students work as part of a team, building or adapting scenery. Students will also have an introduction to AutoCAD and learn basic technical drawing. Year 2 Students continue to further develop AutoCAD skills. They will work on welding and building metal... [-]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Stage Management

Campus Full time 3 years October 2017 United Kingdom London

Learn stage management, and specialist knowledge and skills in all aspects of theatre production. Through close working with students and practitioners of other theatre disciplines, students on this course develop an overall understanding of how each contributes to live performance, making them highly employable upon graduation. [+]

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Stage Management Overview Learn stage management, and specialist knowledge and skills in all aspects of theatre production. Through close working with students and practitioners of other theatre disciplines, students on this course develop an overall understanding of how each contributes to live performance, making them highly employable upon graduation. About the course This course aims to produce stage managers who are able to adapt to any production setting ranging from West End theatre to large-scale outdoor events. Stage managers are a conduit between the director and the production team throughout the rehearsal process and the management of the performance itself, including the acquisition of furniture and props. Stage Managers must have excellent people, communication and negotiation skills to ensure they properly communicate developments through rehearsals and find solutions to production challenges. Students develop practical management skills through working in production teams on a number of realised productions, collaborating with other students and visiting professionals. Course Detail Year 1 Students develop the basic skills necessary for creating live performance, through a series of workshops and realised projects. They undertake classes and workshops, including managing rehearsals and performance, blocking and working with the cast and director, marking-up, show calling, props sourcing and adapting, costume supervision and sewing, lighting, sound, and staging technology. There are workshops focusing on text analysis, group dynamics, communication and current legislation, including health and safety. Students undertake the role of Assistant Stage Manager on a realised production, working with students from the undergraduate Acting... [-]

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