Jenny Sealey, Stephen Poliakoff and Kevin Whately to Receive Fellowships at The Royal Festival Hall, Dec 9

Jenny Sealey, Stephen Poliakoff and Kevin Whately to Receive Fellowships at The Royal Festival Hall, Dec 9

On Monday 9 December, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama will host its annual Graduation Ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall. Alongside a class of new graduates, Central will award fellowships to three extraordinary members of the industry: Stephen Poliakoff, Jenny Sealey and Kevin Whately.

Multi-Award winning playwright, director and scriptwriter Stephen Poliakoff is one of the leading dramatists currently working in the industry. Nominated for an Olivier Award for his play Blinded by the Sun, his prolific works have received BAFTA, Broadcasting Critics, Critics' Circle, Emmy, Evening Standard, Golden Globe, Prix Italia, Peabody, Royal Television Society and South Bank Awards. Poliakoff was the writer in residence at the National Theatre from 1976-78 and has also worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC. A Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, he was awarded a CBE in 2007.

As the Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company, Jenny Sealey is fuelled by her artistic passion to find a new theatrical voice across the 'aesthetics of access', from the very beginning of the artistic process. She counts amongst her numerous accolades the co-direction of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, receiving the Liberty Human Rights Arts Award and being named on the Hospital Club h.Club 100 list of the most influential and creative people in the creative industries. Ms Sealey was awarded with an MBE in the 2009 Queen's Honours.

Actor and Central alumnus Kevin Whately is perhaps best known for his role as Detective Sergeant Lewis in the crime dramas Inspector Morse and Lewis. Since graduating from Central in 1975, his career has spanned stage, television and film. His numerous credits also include the stage adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, playing Sergeant Hardy in the Academy Award winning film The English Patient, and starring roles in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Peak Practice. In 2011, Whately served as the patron for Central's Full House Theatre Company.

The Honorands join Central in welcoming another highly promising graduating class into the professional world. Indeed, many of those receiving their degrees this year have already had considerable success headlining some of the most popular West End shows of the season. Charlotte Blackledge, spotted by Andrew Lloyd Webber during a workshop he held at Central over the summer, has been cast as Many Rice-Davies in Lord Lloyd-Webber's soon to open, hotly anticipated new musical Stephen Ward.

Joining her in collecting their degree is MA Music Theatre graduate Denis Grindel, who had not yet submitted his final dissertation before being selected to play the leading role of band leader Jimmy Rabbitte in the new production of Roddy Doyle's The Commitments.

The Graduation Ceremony will take place at The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre on 9 December from 2.00-5.00pm.

About The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama: The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is a higher education conservatoire specialising in acting, actor training, applied theatre, theatre crafts, design, drama therapy, lighting, movement, musical theatre, performance, producing, puppetry, scenography, stage management, sound, teacher training, technical arts and production, theatre studies, voice, and writing for stage and broadcast media. Placing students at the centre of its work, Central develops practitioners and researchers who shape the future of theatre and performance. With over 55 academic staff, together with visiting artists and lecturers, Central contains the largest grouping of drama/theatre/performance specialists in the UK, who make a major contribution to research in their various disciplines. The Royal Central school of Speech and Drama is HEFCE's only designated CETL in the field (Centre for Excellence in Training for Theatre).

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