A joint initiative from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and The Old Vic will present a series of short courses offering insight into the world of London theatre. The Old Vic's chairman, Lord Attenborough (pictured), is launching the programme of events (entitled The London Scene) which will commence in November 2001.

Lord Attenborough has also been instrumental in instigating the schedule, which will contain a fortnight course of workshops. The two theatrical institutions involved will offer the chance to study, practice, explore and experience the capital's theatre environment. A number of leading writers, directors, designers and actors will also be discussing aspects of production from scripting and acting to lighting and design.

RADA Enterprises Ltd (REL), the Academy's commercial arm, will manage the joint venture between RADA and The Old Vic. Its major aim is to generate additional income for RADA, a registered educational charity which still relies broadly on donations and sponsorship.

Commenting on the undertaking, Lord Attenborough said: 'Individually, RADA and The Old Vic represent two different strands of a great theatrical tradition. One has long trained and fostered some of the great classical actors and actresses of their time, while the very name of the other conjures up the most hallowed of stages on which each has aspired eventually to perform. Now, for the first time, these two world-renowned centres of excellence have joined forces and created an opportunity for short course students to benefit from the ethos of RADA in the unique atmosphere of The Old Vic. For those who love theatre and want to learn more, I cannot think of a more exciting or a more potent combination.'

RADA Course Director, William Richards, added: 'The London Scene is for people who are eager to know more about theatre... or anybody who wants to experience theatre in this unique and unforgettable way. By giving course participants the chance to watch a performance and then discuss it in person with the writer and director... we are hoping to create a much deeper understanding of theatre and how it works'.

RADA began life in 1904, when actor manager Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree established an academy at His Majesty's Theatre Haymarket. It later moved to Gower Street, with a management council which included George Bernard Shaw. John Gielgud studied there for a year, with the Academy later developing Jonathan Pryce, Alan Rickman, Anton Lesser and Kenneth Branagh among others.

The Old Vic first opened as The Regency in 1818, and is the only London theatre from that era still in operation. Legendary performances there include both Richard Burton and Laurence Oliver as Richard III and Peter O'Toole playing Hamlet.

- by Gareth Thompson