The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) this month marks 100 years one of the UK’s flagship drama schools, with a series of events organised over the coming months to celebrate the centenary.

On 25 April 1904, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree established the Academy of Dramatic Art at His Majesty’s Theatre (now home to The Phantom of the Opera) in the Haymarket. The following year the school moved to the now famous Gower Street site, and in 1920 received its Royal Charter.

Amongst RADA many renowned alumni are: Joan Collins, Ralph Fiennes, Sir John Gielgud, David Harewood, Anthony Hopkins, Charles Laughton, Mike Leigh, Alan Rickman, Diana Rigg, Mark Rylance, Juliet Stevenson, Timothy Spall, Michael Blakemore and Nicholas Wright.

As part of the centenary festivities, the National Film Theatre will present a short season of films with RADA connections from 2 to 9 May 2004, culminating on Sunday 9 May with a gala screening of Masks and Faces, a silent movie made in 1917 as a fundraiser for the academy. In June, a Royal Centenary Lunch will be held on 8 June in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen, followed by a star-studded fund-raising lunch on 9 June.

In the autumn, a Centenary Celebration on 3 October will reunite several generations of RADA graduates and four evenings of cabaret, performed by alumni and other celebrity guests will take place from 7 to 10 November. The fundraising events follow a period during which RADA’s main Bloomsbury premises have been completely refurbished and partly re-built.

For further information, call the National Film Theatre on 020 7928 3232 or the RADA box office on 020 7908 4800.


Back in Haymarket, the Theatre Royal Haymarket has announced its ongoing schedule of Masterclasses for May and June 2004.

In May, Bridewell artistic director Carol Metcalfe and musical director Michael Haslam will give a class on Friday 7 May at 2.30pm; multi award-winning actress Janie Dee (Betrayal, My One and Only, Comic Potential, Carousel) will talk about the crossover between performing in musicals and straight plays on Wednesday 12 May at 2.00pm; and actor Bill Nighy (Blue/Orange on stage, Love Actually on film) will answer questions on Friday 21 May at 2.30pm.

In June, veteran actor Donald Sinden will present a practical event on comedy, working with three pairs of actors on a scene from She Stoops to Conquer, on Tuesday 22 June at 2.30pm; and actor Oliver Ford Davies (Absolutely! (perhaps), King Lear will discuss his work and career on a date still to be confirmed.

Amongst those who’ve expressed interest in presenting their own Masterclasses as part of the autumn season are Peter Hall, Emma Thompson, Helen Mirren, Stephen Poliakoff, Christopher Hampton, Greg Hicks and Anita Dobson.

The Theatre Royals Masterclasses are free events aimed at young people aged 17-30. The year-round programme of motivational and practical workshops and talks are given by leading theatre practitioners. Those aged over 30 who would like to attend can subscribe to a special Friends scheme. For further information, visit the theatre website.

- by Terri Paddock