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Education Beyond the USA: Profiling The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Education Beyond the USA: Profiling The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Into the Woods, May 2019;
photo credit: Scott Rylander)

We're reaching outside of the US to bring hopeful students a wider picture of where they can attain training in the theatre arts! First up, we're looking at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the UK. Get an idea of their degree programs, audition process and even hear from some of their faculty below.

RADA believes in the power of the dramatic arts to inspire transformation and growth in individuals and society. They deliver world-leading training in the dramatic arts by cultivating exceptional talent in a community dedicated to curiosity, rigour, creativity and craft.

The Academy is a diverse community of students and staff from all over the world, united by a shared passion for theatre-making and story-telling.

The training I received as a student was second to none, and I am delighted to see - and now help - RADA continue to nurture and support generations of acting and technical talent.

Training has become much more geared towards the skills actors need today - especially training for the camera... That doesn't mean that theatre training suffers. The basics remain the same. RADA prepares actors for the modern multi-platform world, but I remain hugely impressed with their basic acting provisions including vocal training, stage fighting and accent work.

-Sir Kenneth Branagh, RADA graduate and President

RADA Degree Programs

BA (Hons) in Acting
3 years
28 students per year (14 men:14 women)

The full-time BA (Hons) Acting course provides a thorough training for the professional actor. Over three years of training, students learn and develop skills in acting, voice, movement, singing, research and personal/professional development, to sustain them in a professional career in a wide variety of media including theatre, television, film and radio.

Foundation Degree in Technical Theatre and Stage Management
2 years, plus optional third year to obtain a BA (Hons) in Technical Theatre and Stage Management
36 students a year on the FdA / approx. 24 students a year on the BA

The FdA in Technical Theatre and Stage Management offers broad, practical training in all the areas that contribute to a theatre production: stage management, lighting, construction, technical management, sound, property making, production management, video, scenic art or costume. The vocational course offers the chance to work hands-on, on RADA productions, films and radio plays, as well as with professionals on industry placements. Students specialise in a particular area of interest in their second year, and further specialisation is available on a BA (Hons) progression year.

MA Theatre Lab
1 year
18 students per year

Our one-year MA Theatre Lab is for students who have already trained at undergraduate level and have worked as professionals. Rather than replicating our BA training, this course extends and evolves the performer's training and skills, experimenting with a range of practices and re-examining the craft of acting. Graduates play an exciting and revitalising role in today's theatre-making landscape.

Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume
2 years
4 students per year

The Postgraduate Diploma in Theatre Costume is aimed at students pursuing a career as a costume maker or supervisor. Students will cover all areas of costume-making, from pattern-cutting through to the finished garment, including millinery, hair and make-up and corsetry. The course also trains students in skills such as script analysis, budgeting and management skills, ready for a career in all aspects of costume and wardrobe supervision.

RADA also run a range of short courses and masterclasses, from one-off evening or weekend classes to their renowned 8-week Shakespeare course, which attracts students from around the world.

My three years at RADA undoubtedly set an invaluable foundation for my last few years as an actor, and I am excited for whoever chooses RADA as the drama school for them.

-Patsy Ferran, RADA graduate and Olivier Award winner

Education Beyond the USA: Profiling The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
RADA Shakespeare for Schools Tour at 10 Downing Street, July 2019

Admissions Process

Applications for all courses open in October each year. The application form offers the chance to tell RADA about yourself, why you want to apply and your future ambitions.

For the BA (Hons) in Acting, all eligible applicants are auditioned. The only requirements are to be 18, fluent in English and be able to show that you have the intellectual, creative and practical ability to train to degree level.

The audition process encompasses four rounds - beginning with a short audition of two speeches and a brief interview, and concluding with a full day of workshops in the final round. Auditions are available in New York and LA, as well as across the UK.

For Technical Theatre and Stage Management, entry is by interview. They want to know about your experience so far, your areas of interest, why you want to train at RADA and what career path you might be interested in. If you can, bring examples of your work - this could be previous work you've created for theatre or film, or work you've created in art, design, fashion, carpentry, electrics, music production or other relevant areas.

You need to be comfortable with going into the unknown. You need to be comfortable going to a place where there aren't right or wrong answers.

-Edward Kemp, Director of RADA

All new students should bring curiosity, openness, empathy and a willingness to be the person who asks the question everyone wants to ask and no one feels brave enough to ask.

-Julie Crofts, Director of Student and Academic Services

Education Beyond the USA: Profiling The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Technical rehearsals for
Woman and Scarecrow,
March 2019; photo credit: Linda Carter)

Tips for Applicants from Outside the UK

RADA offers first-round auditions for the BA (Hons) in Acting in Ireland and the USA, so you don't necessarily need to travel to London for the first round. Our students come from all over the world. You can visit our website and social media to get insights into what it's like to be a student at RADA and the kind of training and performance opportunities we offer - and check out our digital open day coming up in autumn 2019.

Go and see as much live performance as you can, as well as TV and film. If you are auditioning for our BA (Hons) in Acting, don't feel you need to stand out from the crowd with an obscure speech or unusual casting - choose something that feels genuine to you, that you're excited about and can imagine playing one day. We're looking for auditionees to transport us into their own reality and make us believe in the truth of the person they are playing. Students should also be able to commit to working in a group, and to being generous, open and responsive to direction.

We have no set requirements regarding how much experience applicants have - we are looking for potential, and for the creative and practical ability to undertake degree level training. Before applying and auditioning, do some research about the kind of training different schools offer. It's always helpful to see and read as much theatre and film as possible, and have a think about your favourite actors - what is it about them that makes their performances so enjoyable, moving or intriguing.

-Lucy Skilbeck, Director of Actor Training

Find out more at, and connect on social media:

Twitter - @RADA_London
Instagram - @royalacademyofdramaticart
Facebook - RoyalAcademyofDramaticArt

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