Edward Kemp to step down as Director of RADA
Edward Kemp has today announced that he will step down after 14 years as Director of RADA, during the 2020-2021 academic year.
Edward joined RADA in 2007, first as Artistic Director, becoming Director in 2008. During his time in the role, he has revitalised RADA’s training and creative output, growing RADA’s reputation as a global leader in dramatic arts education.
Edward Kemp said: “Running RADA is one of the best jobs in the world and I have relished my time at the helm. Over the last 14 years the Academy has changed and progressed, and our many achievements have come from the combined efforts of staff, students, graduates, supporters and friends: to all of whom I would like to express my gratitude. I believe now is the right moment to pass to someone else the privilege of guiding the future of this remarkable institution. It is a time of great change in the industry and RADA faces new and exciting opportunities, which will benefit from new perspectives and fresh thinking. And personally I have projects I would like to pursue as both writer and director. It will be a wrench to say goodbye to my many brilliant colleagues, but I will take immense pleasure watching RADA’s bright future from the outside.”
In 2018, having also served as Principal of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama (CDD), Edward oversaw RADA becoming an independent HEI (Higher Education Institution) in its own right for the first time in its 115-year history. Shortly after, RADA also received a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Edward oversaw and participated in the first major reviews for many years of the training in both Acting and Technical Theatre Arts in the Academy and the creation of the MA Theatre Lab, RADA’s first post-graduate acting programme. In 2008 he established RADA’s now thriving Film, TV and Radio department, coinciding with the start of a continuing partnership with Warner Bros. He has been a prominent advocate for access and participation, establishing, also with Warner’s support, the Academy’s first Outreach Department and nurturing numerous programmes and partnerships, including with Graeae, Extant and Deafinitely Theatre, as well as Speakers for Schools and Arts Emergency. Graduates from Edward’s years at RADA have continued the Academy’s long legacy of success on stage, screen and radio, and also backstage and in the workshop and studio, as award-winning actors, directors, designers and technical theatre specialists.
Amongst commissions and premieres have been Jessica Swale’s Blue Stockings, Marcelo Dos Santos’ New Labour, Charlene James’ bricks and pieces, Atiha Sen Gupta’s GIG and Rikki Beadle-Blair’s Mysterious Bruises, and the London premieres of Heidi Thomas’s The House of Special Purpose, Kwame Kwei-Armah’s A Bitter Herb and Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky. Jude Christian, Polly Findlay, Rob Hastie, Paul Hunter, Natalie Ibu, Jonathan Miller, Prasanna Puwanarajah and Paulette Randall are amongst directors who made their RADA debut during Edward’s time. Edward conceived and founded the RADA Festival, which celebrates its 10th year in 2021. The Festival has enabled many graduates to launch their own creative and frequently award-winning work, with productions going on to Soho Theatre, Park Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe, VAULT Festival, Theatre503 as well as on Arts Council and British Council tours.
During Edward’s tenure, RADA acquired the neighbouring Drill Hall, now RADA Studios, and prior to it being paused by Covid, planned a major upgrade of its Chenies Street estate. Successful commercial and philanthropic income streams have grown to continue to underpin RADA’s financial position. This has also enabled the Academy to provide transformative scholarship and bursary provision to support students from all financial backgrounds, often to as many as two-thirds of all full-time students.
Before joining RADA, Edward had a successful career as a writer, director and dramaturg. He has continued these activities, both within RADA and externally.
In September 2020 it was announced that the Chair of Council, Sir Stephen Waley-Cohen would retire in 2021, having been a Council Member since 2002 and Chair since 2007. A succession committee of Council is engaged in finding his replacement. In view of Edward Kemp’s announcement Sir Stephen will remain actively involved for as long as Council wishes to support the new Chair and the next leadership.
Sir Stephen said: “It’s been a privilege to chair Council and a pleasure to work alongside Edward for almost the whole of my term of office. On behalf of all my Council colleagues we thank him for his considerable achievements at RADA and wish him success in his future career. We will announce the details of our future leadership once they are finalised.”