Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama was founded by Elsie Fogerty in 1906 (as The Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art) to offer a new form of training in speech and drama for young actors and other students. It became a constituent of the University of London in 2005. It is a member of the Federation of Drama Schools.[3]

Royal Central School
of Speech and Drama
Central School Eton Avenue.jpg
The Embassy Theatre, home of the school
Other names
Central, CSSD
Former names
Central School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, Central School of Speech and Drama
TypeDrama school and public university conservatoire
Established1906; 115 years ago (1906)
2005: Incorporated into the University of London
Parent institution
University of London
Budget£19.4m (2016/17)[1]
ChairmanJohn Willis
ChancellorThe Princess Royal (University of London)
PresidentMichael Grandage CBE
Vice-presidentZoë Wanamaker CBE, Cicely Berry CBE (deceased), Carrie Fisher (deceased)
Vice-ChancellorProfessor Wendy Thomson (University of London)
PrincipalProfessor George Caird (Interim Principal)
Josette Bushell-Mingo (from 2021)
DeanDr Joshua Abrams (Interim Dean of School)
PatronPrincess Alexandra
Students1,100 (2019/20)[2]
Undergraduates690 (2019/20)[2]
Postgraduates410 (2019/20)[2]
Embassy Theatre, Eton Avenue
Colours  Red
WebsiteOfficial website Edit this at Wikidata
Royal Central School of Speech and Drama logo.svg


The school offers undergraduate, postgraduate, research degrees and short courses in acting, actor training, applied theatre, theatre crafts and making, design, drama therapy, movement, musical theatre, performance, producing, research, scenography, stage management, teacher training, technical arts, voice and writing.[4]


The Embassy Theatre

On 29 November 2012, the title Royal was bestowed on the school by Elizabeth II in recognition of its reputation as a "world-class institution for exceptional professional training in theatre and performance studies". It is entitled to use it in official documentation, although it continues to be colloquially referred to as "Central". The school's Patron, Princess Alexandra of Kent, played a role in recommending the institution for the title[5][dead link]


The school is located at Swiss Cottage in North London, an area which is being redeveloped as a "civic and cultural quarter" which includes a new extension building for the school, replacing 1960s accommodation. The school's theatre is located inside the new building which was awarded a BREEAM rating of "very good". [6]


Past presidents of the school include Laurence Olivier and Judi Dench.[7] In October 2008 Harold Pinter, who attended the school in 1950–51, became its president, succeeding Peter Mandelson.[7] He was to receive an honorary fellowship in December 2008,[8] but had to receive it in absentia because of ill health;[9][10] he died two weeks later.[11] Michael Grandage became president in 2010.[citation needed]

Former presidentsEdit

  • Harold Pinter CH CBE* (2008)
  • The Right Honourable Lord Mandelson PC (2001 to 2008)
  • Dame Judi Dench* (1992 to 1997)
  • Dame Peggy Ashcroft* (1989 to 1992)
  • The Right Honourable Lord Olivier* (1983 to 1989)

* Central alumni


In addition to being an acting school, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama offers training and education in a broad range of vocational and applied theatre specialties available, providing courses in acting, voice studies, producing, design for the stage, costume design, applied theatre & education, drama and movement therapy, lighting design and production, media and drama education, musical theatre, performance arts, prop making, puppetry, scenic art, scenic construction, costume construction, scenography, set design, theatre sound, stage management, technical and production management, directing and writing.


In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise the majority of Central's submission was judged "world leading" or "internationally excellent". The school has been ranked highly by The Guardian, placing it sixth in its league table of specialist institutions[12] and ninth for Drama and Dance.[13]

Central has more than 55 academic staff and a wide range of visiting lecturers and artists.

The school has over 20 doctoral candidates[14] and the first graduate of the programme, Broderick Chow, was awarded his PhD at the December 2010 graduation ceremony.[15]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ "Where Our Money Comes From" (PDF). Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Where do HE students study?". Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 1 March 2020.
  3. ^ Granger, Rachel. "Rapid Scoping Study on Leicester Drama School" (PDF). De Montfort University Leicester. Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Courses". The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Central School of Speech and Drama celebrates new Royal Title". Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London).
  6. ^ "Page on Central School building". Ellis and Moore Consulting Engineers.
  7. ^ a b Alistair Smith (14 October 2008). "Pinter Replaces Mandelson as Central President". The Stage. Archived 12 June 2011.
  8. ^ "Central Announces New President" (Press release). Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). 9 October 2008. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
  9. ^ "Degree Honour for Playwright Pinter". Press Association (Hosted by Google). 11 December 2008. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Central's 2008 Graduation Ceremony". Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). 12 December 2008. Archived from the original on 29 December 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2009. Honorary Fellowships for Harold Pinter, Jo Brand and Penny Francis.
  11. ^ Mark Taylor-Batty, comp. "In Memoriam". Harold Pinter Society Webpages. The Harold Pinter Society and the University of Leeds. Archived from the original on 10 February 2009. Retrieved 1 January 2009. Harold Pinter – playwright, poet, actor, director, political activist – died on 24 December 2008, aged 78.
  12. ^ "University guide 2011: Specialist institutions league table". The Guardian. London. 8 June 2010.
  13. ^ "University guide 2011: Drama and dance". The Guardian. London. 8 June 2010.
  14. ^ "Student profiles". Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London).
  15. ^ "Central awards its first PhD". Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (University of London). 12 January 2011. Retrieved 8 February 2011.
  16. ^ Wilson-Dickson, Andrew (18 October 2015). "Julia Wilson-Dickson obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 November 2015.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°32′39″N 0°10′26″W / 51.5442°N 0.1738°W / 51.5442; -0.1738