RADA Festival 2019

London theatre news: Wednesday 15 May 2019

Festivals - Shows

Now in its 8th year, the programme for RADA Festival 2019 has been announced bringing together graduates and collaborators from across the international theatre community - runs from 26 June to 6 July 2019.
RADA Fetival 2019 at RADA

Image by Sarah Hickson

The splendid annual RADA Festival returns to central London this summer, with a programme of work that celebrates collaboration and co-creation in our divided world.

Students and graduates from this world-leading drama school are working with practitioners from across the industry and across the globe, with performers and partnerships from the USA, Russia, South Africa, India, Australia and Canada.

Involving graduates from the 1970s up to the present day, from both acting and theatre production courses, it is a celebration of the vibrancy and variety of work from all corners of the Academy and the collaborations that are forged beyond.

RADA Festival runs from 26 June to 6 July 2019 and the extensive programme can be seen here.

ActDrop caught several shows in last year's festival, resulting in 4 and 5 star reviews that indicates the quality of work on offer at this enjoyably entertaining, affordable and exciting annual festival of theatre.

Here's a taste of what's on offer this year ...

The GBS (George Bernard Shaw) Theatre hosts the full premiere production of To See Salisbury, a darkly funny exploration of the 2018 Novichok poisoning.

With nods to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the show offers a rare insight into current Russian politics.

To See Salisbury is written by Russian satirist and broadcaster Victor Shenderovich and adapted by RADA graduate Oliver Bennett, co-founder of HUNCHtheatre, whose aim is to unite British and Continental aesthetics in cultural exchange.

Alongside this, writer and director Simon Dormandy adapts three lesser-known short stories by E.M. Forster, unpublished during his lifetime because of their explicit examination of race and sexuality.

The Point of It reframes the stories in light of contemporary gay and intersectional experiences, in a narrative traversing the globe across a hundred years.

This beautifully scripted ensemble piece, which welcomes the return of RADA graduate Tanmay Dhanania, sees convention and desire tragically collide in a complex world of lust and pain.

Completing the GBS Theatre programme is new play After the Peace by award-winning playwright Clare Bayley.

This RADA co-production explores a relationship spawned out of a fractured Britain in a not too distant dystopian future, in the aftermath of a civil war that holds an uneasy peace.

Five Plays in Five Days: ...

New for 2019 is a programme of rehearsed readings offering a look at brand new works in development from a wide range of voices.

Following his first full-length play Combustion at the 2017 Festival, graduate Asif Khan returns with a first public reading of his new comedy Stags & Gravediggers, commissioned by RIFCO and Watford Palace Theatre.

Funlola Olufunwa's triptych on race relations A Cord of Three Strands responds to the death of activist Sandra Bland in 2015.

In What's Wrong Ameri-K-K-Ka, Black 'n' White and Afrika, she gives voice to essential awareness of societal and institutional racism.

Elliot Cowan directs Lina Patel's Sankalpan, exploring family and politics in pre-partition India through the lens of Chekhov's Three Sisters.

Lotte Rice's Dipped is a direct response to the local impact of knife crime and youth violence through a universal female voice played by a powerful ensemble chorus.

Dipped is a direct response to the local impact of knife and serious youth violence - how do you smash through the glass ceiling without getting cut?

Finally, verbatim company Ecoute Theatre, founded by recent graduate Zoe Templemen-Young, present a reading of Connie Templeman's Risk Assessment, highlighting the potential moral and ethical consequences of a corporate shift in higher education.

New and established writing

In RADA's Gielgud Theatre, established texts sit alongside new writing, and physical theatre joins comedy and cabaret for a vivid and eclectic programme.

The vision of our world in crisis is explored by Jess Moore in Seed Bank, where catastrophic climate change threatens the earth's natural resources and prompts questions around our desire to pro-create; and in Ockerby by screen writer Debbie Oates, where the search for immortality at the cutting edge of science is brought to life in a new technically ambitious production, directed and produced by current theatre production student Jake Steele.

Following last year's five-star production of Lucid, New Public return with their inimitable brand of bold physical theatre in their latest work Transformations, combining elements of text, circus and ritualistic narrative immersed in surround sound.

The company will also be leading a special one-off workshop, offering the chance to investigate physical transformation techniques, ensemble and partnering work with this experimental company.

Also on offer is an inspiring programme of 'herstory' tales, presented by a variety of all-female cabaret groups.

Polly Clamorous, fresh from five-star reviews at the Brighton Fringe, and Constellations Theatre Company both present the stories of history's most powerful, misunderstood (and forgotten) women.

Launching the RADA Festival 2019 programme, director of RADA Edward Kemp commented ...

"The RADA Festival has become a cornerstone of our year and a focal point for creative thinking and storytelling across the RADA community.

Each year I'm thrilled to see the work created by our graduates, students, teachers and a whole host of other collaborators that come through the doors - and it's fantastic to see how these artists are grappling with the challenges we're all facing in today's political climate with some really dynamic and provocative work."

Festival producer Jo Wiltshire added ...

"The quality of work being submitted to the Festival each year is incredible, and it's thrilling to be on the receiving end of such fresh and responsive work.

The programme this year has a rich maturity and tenacity to it, all well worth a watch!

It is always utterly inspiring to watch graduates explore new creative journeys, driven by a desire to react to the world we live in."

Joanne Cayford, BBC producer, said ...

"The RADA Festival is one of the most inspiring and energising fortnights in the creative calendar: original writing and performances, new voices and emerging talent curated by Jo Wiltshire.

Work that I was lucky enough to see last year has stayed with me - productions that continue to thrive and resonate with audiences outside the London bubble".


Paul Westcombe returns to the festival with a fantastical painting and drawing work with theatrical elements including a video projection of a recorded opera performance.

Some Say Oil Acorn Fatty Gears is a new multidisciplinary installation which will be in the RADA Bar throughout the festival for everyone to see.


Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

Malet Street

London WC1E 7JN


26 June to 6 July 2019


Prices start at £6, with a Pay What You Can scheme for Five Plays in Five Days, starting at £2.

Box office: 020 7908 4800


RADA Festival website

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