The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama is recognised as ‘world leading’ both for its arts research and as a provider of professional training for the creative industries. As a college of the University of London since 2005, Central realised the ambitions of its visionary founder, Elsie Fogerty, a specialist in speech training who believed firmly in the social value of theatre, and advancing the study of theatre as an academic discipline.
Over a century later, Central now boasts a wide range of professional training with undergraduate and postgraduate courses in creative producing, scenography, theatre lighting design, theatre sound, prop making, scenic construction and scenic art which stand alongside the renowned range of acting courses and leading courses in applied and community performance practices.
The industry-connectedness of Central’s teaching is enhanced by research-active staff who engage with and support arts research, publishing across a wide range of subject areas. Central is, perhaps uniquely, in a position to recognise and bridge the gap between the aspirations of the ‘real’ world of the theatre industries and the potential insights from the real world of academic research.
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The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama
An introduction to Central’s role in Advance 2016, from Gilli Bush-Bailey, Professor of Women’s Performance Histories.
“Our partnership with Advance cohorts in 2014 and 2016 is a dynamic research model that situates research in the context of a continuum: a process that will continue to pose questions, stimulate enquiry, and fuel projects that directly engage with the many reasons that gender equality is still a live issue in our creative industries.”
In 2016 Central’s research team continued their collaborative partnership with Tonic Theatre as we embarked upon the second phase of Advance. With additional funding from Research@Central, Gilli Bush-Bailey (Professor of Women’s Performance Histories) and Dr Katharine Low (Lecturer in Community Performance and Applied Theatre) welcomed a new member to the team; Research Associate, Dr Lisa Woynarski. Building on the research established with Advance in 2014 we entered the 2016 dynamic research phase with the second cohort of participating companies, now expanded to include opera and dance companies. There were new challenges and new opportunities to extend our focus on key areas of the research which we might begin to frame in terms of Contexts and Conversations for exploring
- (hi)stories we have and what different stories we want to make for the future
- findings from ‘forgotten’ initiatives and how to keep research alive and present
- acknowledging the way gender fits into a larger context of overlapping inequalities through an intersectional approach
- connections with other equality and diversity initiatives
- establishing and sharing models and processes
- seeking networks for sustainability and legacies of change
- exploring academic and cultural discourses on gender, performing arts and social structures
- understanding the role training plays in expectations, representation and industry leadership
In 2014 Central was delighted to host the launch of the Advance website in our Embassy Theatre. We spoke then about the process of our research as engaging with a series of discoveries about what is there, but also interrogating what is missing or simply forgotten about gender equality. That work of searching, sifting, excavating and sharing with industry and academic partners continues and reaches out in many ways – including this second Advance website.
You can see more about the Central Research team in the following video and get a taste of an early workshop led by Katharine Low from which we will be developing more models for thinking and working with equality agendas with the next generation of industry professionals.