Special projects are the innovative, ambitious and wide-reaching initiatives that make LAMDA’s training unique and our alumni so successful. To sustain our work and develop it in exciting new directions, we urgently need to increase support for these projects.
As a registered charity, we have to raise £150,000 every year – approximately £1,000 for each student on our higher education courses – to maintain the exceptional standard of our pioneering training. In addition, our ability to deliver and expand our outreach and widening participation programme is entirely dependent on charitable donations.
Find out below about past initiatives and some of the special projects that now need your support. Alternatively, contact Vicki Kelsall at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)20 8834 0514.
Projects and Initiatives
In 1998, LAMDA became the first drama school to commission and perform its own new work. Today, we continue to engage exciting writers – emerging and established – to create vibrant new work in collaboration with our students and professional directors.
Leading artists such as Mark Ravenhill (whose LAMDA commission Mother Clap’s Molly House transferred to the National in 2001), Max Stafford-Clark, Josie Rourke, Robin Soans, Ella Hickson and Natalie Ibu have worked with our students in this way.
Despite this activity costing more than staging existing plays, we are determined to ring-fence our new writing commissions so that our students continue to learn vital artistic skills through this pioneering programme. Going forward, we will also expand this work: building partnerships with specialist new writing organisations, providing training opportunities for emerging dramaturges and sharing our experience more widely with the industry.
At the heart of our outreach and widening participation programme is our annual Shakespeare in Schools project. By taking our classical productions into state schools, we increase pupil engagement with live performance, support curriculum-based learning and provide valuable peer role models for young people.
During our piloting of this project in 2012, nearly a third of pupils involved had never seen a Shakespeare play before and 89% said seeing a play performed helped them to understand it better.
“I enjoyed the revelation of comedic elements of the play that, when read, are hard to spot and/or understand.”
Pupil at Langley Park School for Boys
Many schools and colleges have limited access to arts activities, making our work essential to their engagement in theatre. Through this project, we aim to work with over 700 pupils at eight state schools in our local borough of Hammersmith and Fulham each year. We are also aiming to extend our reach by expanding this type of work into primary and hospital schools from 2014.
A core element of our professional acting training is the art of stage combat. Housing a fully equipped armoury of high-quality, historically accurate weaponry at LAMDA provides a vital resource for our students – enabling them to develop their skills in a safe and expert manner.
Actors including Stephen Moyer (True Blood), Toby Stephens (Jane Eyre), Richard Armitage (The Hobbit), David Oyelowo (Spooks) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) all won awards for combat while at LAMDA and have gone on to use these skills extensively on stage and screen.
The provision of stage combat training is one area in which private support can make a real difference. Specialist weaponry is neither commonly available nor cheap to purchase. In addition, with approximately 200 students using LAMDA’s armoury each year, our weapons are subject to severe wear and tear, and need replacing often – some on an annual basis.
Each year, our students stage 20 professionally resourced productions, showcasing their skills to the industry and a public audience of over 13,000. Though most performances take place in London, we are committed to an ever-growing programme of national and international touring.
In recent years, we have taken shows to venues in Ludlow, Bowness and Brecon in the UK, as well as to Moscow and Paris. LAMDA also has strong links with the US and Canada. We deliver masterclasses on Shakespeare’s First Folio at universities and theatres across North America, and are the only UK drama school to hold its own Industry Showcases in both New York and Los Angeles.
Our national and international touring programme provides actors and technicians with additional hands-on experience, enhances their skills as professional artists, and exposes them to different cultures and methods of working. It also enables us to build wider audiences for our work.
Supported by the Noël Coward Foundation
In 2010, the Noël Coward Foundation awarded LAMDA a three-year grant to run a series of weekend masterclasses with first-year students on our Foundation Degree in Professional Acting course.
Led by acclaimed artists Philip Wilson (director) and Simon Green (actor and cabaret performer), the masterclasses allowed students to explore and gain an appreciation for Noël Coward’s diverse and multifaceted body of work, as well as learn new skills as performers. By working closely with Coward’s scripts and songs, students found that their preconceptions were challenged and they gained a new appreciation for this particular style of theatre.
“The two days blew the dust off what could wrongly be perceived as an important but dated writer – I now properly appreciate him as a fiercely relevant cultural milestone, as well as an incredibly useful string to an actor’s bow. To do Coward justice as a performer opens up so much about storytelling and performance.”