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> > > News: RADA provides new opportunities for young people with impairments
two young people listen to instruction during a drama workshop

Access to Acting workshops aim to open up the acting profession to those who previously may not have considered such vocational training. Image: Richard Smith/RADA

A leading theatrical training institute is aiming to tackle an issue involving inclusion and diversity which they have identified from their intake figures.

Following an analysis of the people applying for and then being accepted on to courses across Conservatoire of Dance and Drama institutions, it was found that for the academic year 2009/10 only 14% of applicants described themselves as disabled.  

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), one of the founding members of the Conservatoire, has addressed this situation in its own setting by considering the reasons for the low level of interest from young people with disability, impairment or disadvantage  when it comes to training in theatre. This has led RADA to introduce a programme of free workshops aimed at young people with impairments who might not previously have considered a career on the stage.

The aim is that through Access to Acting people between the ages of 18 to 26 can gain experience of what drama training is about and be given a taster of the content which would be encountered during studying at RADA. These elements include Stanislavski, text, voice, and physical performance.

The workshops are taught by the Academy’s senior teachers and directors and are also staffed by facilitators, support workers and sign-language interpreters in order to ensure equality of opportunity and access.

In the same way that ‘colour-blind casting’ has brought a new level of equality to the acting profession in recent years, providing opportunities for actors from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, RADA hopes that these workshops will also lead to the possibility of creating vocational routes into the theatre for people with impairments.

Edward Kemp, the director of RADA, commented:

‘Entrance to the acting course at RADA is fiercely competitive, but ultimately there is only one determining quality: outstanding talent.  Potentially there are many talented young people out there who never consider applying to RADA because they do not think they have the experience or they do not think they will be taken seriously. 

"We hope through these workshops to enable young disabled performers both to increase their skills and to gain the confidence and experience to apply for professional vocational training.  Ultimately we want the drama-makers of tomorrow to be able to draw upon skilled actors from every corner of society to make their work.’ 

The next course will run from 3 to 8 September 2012 from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. The closing date for applications is Monday 23 July (but late applications may be considered).

Find more about the course, how to apply and what RADA has to offer those seeking to train in theatre

Read about the current debates surrounding diversity in the arts and strategies for promoting participation at all levels at the Creative Case website.

RADA’s project is funded in part by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation