Nuggets – bite size chunks of London


The Roy­al Acad­e­my of Dra­mat­ic Art is Britain’s lead­ing dra­ma school. It was found­ed in 1904 by the actor Sir Her­bert Beer­bohm Tree in the dome of His Majesty’s The­atre in the Hay­mar­ket. Lat­er in its first year it trans­ferred to a Geor­gian house at 62 Gow­er Street.

In 1912 George Bernard Shaw donat­ed the roy­al­ties from Pyg­malion to the acad­e­my, and it lat­er ben­e­fit­ed sub­stan­tial­ly from the suc­cess of My Fair Lady. Shaw gave occa­sion­al lec­tures to the stu­dents, includ­ing one called ‘Ele­men­tary Eco­nom­ics for Actors’.

Dur­ing the 1920s a the­atre was added on Malet Street, back­ing onto the Gow­er Street premis­es.

The acad­e­my was grant­ed a roy­al char­ter by George V in 1920 and for many years was run by Sir Ken­neth Barnes (1878–1957), under whom its the­atre, the Van­brugh – named after his sis­ters, the actress­es Irene and Vio­let Van­brugh – was built to replace the ear­li­er one, which had been destroyed in the Blitz. Now called the Jer­wood Van­brugh The­atre, it was rebuilt again in 2000, when the rest of the acad­e­my was through­ly refur­bished.

RADA’s stu­dents have includ­ed John Giel­gud, Richard Atten­bor­ough, Glen­da Jack­son, John Hurt, Antho­ny Hop­kins, Jonathan Pryce, Juli­et Steven­son, Alan Rick­man, Ken­neth Branagh, Tim­o­thy Spall and Ben Whishaw.

Guid­ed tours are avail­able.
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art