Profile of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

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In the woods, May 2019;
photo credit: Scott Rylander)

We’re reaching out outside the United States to give hopeful students a bigger picture of where they can train in the performing arts! First, we take a look at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the UK. Get a feel for their curriculum, audition process, and even hear from some of their teachers below.

RADA believes in the power of the dramatic arts to inspire transformation and growth in individuals and in society. They provide world-class training in the dramatic arts by cultivating exceptional talent in a community dedicated to curiosity, rigor, creativity and craftsmanship.

The Academy is a diverse community of students and staff from around the world, united by a common passion for theatrical creation and storytelling.

The training I received as a student was second to none, and I am delighted to see – and now to 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 camera training … That doesn’t mean theatrical training suffers. The basics remain the same. RADA prepares actors for the modern multiplatform world, but I remain extremely impressed with their basic acting layouts, including vocal training, onstage fighting, and accent work.

-Sir Kenneth branagh, RADA graduate and President


RADA degree programs

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

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

Basic license in technical theater and stage management
2 years, plus an optional third year to earn a BA (Hons) in Technical Theater and Stage Management
36 students per year on the FdA / approx. 24 BA students per year

The FdA in Technical Theater and Stage Management offers broad and practical training in all areas that contribute to a theatrical production: control, lighting, construction, technical management, sound, property, production management, video, stage art or costume. The professional course offers the opportunity to work in the field, on RADA productions, films and radio plays, as well as with internship professionals in the industry. Students specialize in a particular area of ​​interest in their second year, and additional specialization is available in a year of BA (Hons) progression.

MA theater laboratory
1 year
18 students per year

Our one-year MA Theater Lab is for students who have already completed undergraduate training and have worked as professionals. Rather than replicating our BA training, this course expands and evolves the training and skills of the performer, experiencing a range of practices and reexamining the acting profession. Graduates play an exciting and revitalizing role in today’s theatrical landscape.

Graduate Diploma in Theater Costume
2 years
4 students per year

The Graduate Diploma in Theater Costume is for students pursuing a career as a costume designer or supervisor. Students will cover all areas of costume making, from pattern cut to finished garment, including headgear, hairdressing, makeup, and corsetry. The course also trains students in skills such as scenario analysis, budgeting, and management, ready for a career in all aspects of costume and wardrobe supervision.

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

My three years at RADA have undoubtedly laid an invaluable foundation for my final years as an actor, and I am delighted for anyone who chooses RADA as their drama school for them.

Patsy Ferran, graduate of RADA and winner of the Olivier Prize

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

Admission process

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

For the BA (Hons) in Acting, all eligible candidates are auditioned. The only requirements are to be 18 years old, to be fluent in English, and to be able to demonstrate that you have the intellectual, creative and practical ability to train at university level.

The audition process consists of four rounds – starting with a short audition of two speeches and a brief interview, and ending 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 theater and management, entry is by interview. They want to know 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 created for theater or film, or work you created in art, design, fashion, carpentry, electricity, music production or other relevant fields.

You have to be comfortable going into the unknown. You have to be comfortable going to a place where there are no right or wrong answers.

Edouard Kemp, director of RADA

All new students should demonstrate 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 it.

-Julie Crofts, Director of Student and Academic Services


Education Beyond the United States: Profiling from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Technical rehearsals for
Woman and scarecrow,
March 2019; Photo credit: Linda carter)

Tips for applicants outside the UK

RADA offers first round auditions for the BA (Hons) in Performance in Ireland and the United States, 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 an overview of what it’s like to be a student at RADA and the type of training and performance opportunities we offer – and check out our open house digital coming fall 2019.

See as many live performances as you can, as well as TV and movies. If you’re auditioning for our BA (Hons) in Performing, don’t feel pressured to stand out from the crowd with an obscure speech or an unusual cast – pick something that feels authentic to you, that you are passionate about, and that you can imagine playing a day. We are looking for auditiones to transport us to 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 groups and to being generous, open and receptive to direction.

We have no set requirements for candidate experience – we are looking for potential and the creative and practical ability to undertake university-level training. Before you apply and audition, do some research on the type of training that different schools offer. It always helps to see and read as much theater and movies as possible, and think about your favorite actors – what makes their performances so enjoyable, moving, or intriguing.

Lucy skilbeck, director of actor training


Learn more about www.rada.ac.uk, and connect to social networks:

Twitter – @RADA_London
Instagram – @royalacademyofdramaticart
Facebook – Royal AcademyofDramaticArt


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