MA Theatre Lab
RADA’s MA Theatre Lab extends an actor’s training and creative development, re-addressing acting as an embodied and exploratory art form at the heart of the theatre-making process.
You can find out more about life as a student at RADA here.
Please note: the MA Theatre Lab now runs for 12 months in four terms from January to January.
Exploring techniques applicable to both interpretative and original work, the MA Theatre Lab expands your ability to work collaboratively and independently in various contexts. Working rigorously with expert practitioners, you will experiment with a range of practices empowering you to play a revitalising role in today’s theatre-making landscape.
The MA Theatre Lab is a four-term course, running from January to January each year. The course is ideally for applicants who already have strong experience in performance, extending existing training with rigorous experimentation. Instead of replicating RADA's three-year training in one year, it aims to build on applicants’ experience, giving them the tools to further both their independence and their ability to collaborate in the creative process.
Each term, learning and assessment will be focused on practical exploration, followed by written assignments reflecting on your experience.
In your third term, you will work over the summer as an ensemble (in one group or more where appropriate) alongside a professional director to create a full-length piece of work for public performance. The rehearsal process, performance and accompanying reflective document will together constitute your MA dissertation project.
Whilst continuing your training and study in a fourth term, you will make small-scale, original performances as a part of the Development of Performance module (either in companies or as solo makers) for an end of year Lab Festival. Supervised and mentored by members of staff and people from the industry, you’ll be able to develop these pieces through research and development ‘sharings’ in the autumn, as a part of the New Wave section of the Bloomsbury Festival.
Throughout the year there will be further opportunities to share your work and receive extensive feedback from staff and visiting professionals.
We are currently undergoing a process of decolonising our curriculum, so there may be some changes to texts or areas of study outlined below.
The course is built around four compulsory strands:
- Methodology and creative practice
- Contextual studies and theatre history
- Voice and movement
- Public performance lab
1. Methodology and creative practice
The first two terms centre around rigorous studio-based approaches to performance.
You will explore texts and theatre-making through a range of approaches to performance from the Laboratory, Studio and experimental theatre tradition: from Stanislavski's influential legacy, to acting practices associated to Epic theatre, clowning, physical theatre, and devised and collaborative performance from around the world. Through this work you will develop your own creative practice, proposing and making original performance material in a variety of contexts, for both text-based and devised theatre.
Throughout the year the Development of Performance sessions will enable you to further enhance your training, through ensemble and individual experimentation, applying your emerging skills to the making of new work.
2. Contextual studies and theatre history
Contextual studies emphasises the links between historical context and practice, examining developments in theatre internationally through radical writing and performance.
Through practical engagement with plays ranging from Ancient Greek drama up to contemporary performance of the 20th century, you will explore how theatre grew out of social and political contexts.
3. Voice and movement
Throughout the year you will develop through an integrated training approach to body and voice.
Vocal performance will follow an embodied ethos, introducing you to some alternative approaches. You will also explore song, through ensemble polyphony and individual singing.
Physical work will progress in an ensemble approach, whilst challenging the individual to develop through both ‘via negativa’ and aesthetic-based exploration.
4. Public performance lab and Development of Performance festival
In terms three and four you will engage in intensive devising processes, towards public performances. These test your abilities as a collaborative, creative artist and theatre-maker, offering the opportunity to apply the skills you have developed, putting into practice the ethos of your training.
The last two weeks of the final term focus on writing a reflective essay on these experiences of making performance.
Timetable and workload
Each term is usually 12 weeks long, with compulsory attendance from Wednesday evening to Saturday evening for an intensive 25-30 hours.
The fourth term is a Monday-to-Saturday six-week full-time block of supervised devising work, leading to a public production at RADA. This is followed by a further independent two weeks of independent work on the final reflective essay.
You will have timetabled meetings at least twice a term with the course leader and receive regular feedback from other members of the faculty.
It is necessary for you to set aside time for preparation such as line-learning, reading of recommended supporting material, rehearsal with your fellow students and the upkeep of your portfolio. Time management will require your attention, as the course is cumulative and the workload will gradually intensify.
There may be additional seminars offered to you outside of class hours. There are also optional extracurricular activities, including participation in a student-led production for possible festival visits and/or work sessions over the holiday between spring and summer terms, commitment to which will add to the workload.
You can find our term dates up to summer 2022 here.
The MA Theatre Lab is an unclassified masters; this means you will receive a pass or fail.
Assessment is based on both practical (process and studio sharing) and critical/reflective written work. You will be assessed by various methods throughout your training, which includes continuous, synoptic, summative and formative assessment methods.
The course consists of 180 credits. If a student does not fulfil the final term but has completed all the requirements for terms 1-3 they may be awarded with a Postgraduate Diploma and receive 120 credits.
- Movement/physical and voice (40 credits) - continuous assessment over all three terms.
- Contextual studies and theatre history (20 credits) - term 2 written assignment
- Performance and acting 1 (20 credits) - term 1 presentation and reflective written essay
- Performance and acting 2 (20 credits) - term 2 presentation and reflective written essay
- Performance and acting 3 (20 credits) - term 3 presentation and reflective written essay
- Dissertation/public performance (60 credits) - term 4 practical production and written dissertation
Complete the application form online. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.
There is a non-refundable application fee of £34. The fee will only be charged if you are invited to audition; we will contact you for payment should you be selected.
A guide to our online application form
- Applications are online – you can fill out the form on a desktop, mobile or any other device.
- If you find that the form doesn't work, try using a different browser. We recommend Chrome or Safari.
- We ask questions about you including your address, qualifications and household income.
- We ask if you would prefer to attend an in-person audition or submit a self-tape. Please make sure you've read the information about these in the Auditions section below.
- We ask for a passport-style photo of you. This can be a selfie or any other photo that clearly shows you from the shoulders up in portrait orientation up to 2MB in size. This is for our records only.
- Parts of the form will appear/disappear according to your answers – this is so we can collect the correct information for each applicant.
- The information we collect is confidential. Some of it is shared with our audition panel, but we mark this clearly on the form.
- You can save your progress and return to it later. If you press save, the form creates a URL which you will need to save or email to yourself. You can then use this link to return to your place in the form and continue filling it in.
- Once you have pressed 'Submit' on the application form you can no longer edit, so please make sure you have filled out everything correctly.
- You will receive a confirmation email to say your form has been submitted. This will also include a summary of your answers to the Your Details and Your Qualifications sections, so you have a record of these.
This course is aimed at applicants with existing experience of acting and performance who wish to extend their skills at a professional level and develop themselves as both collaborative and/or independent theatre and performance makers. The entry requirements are:
- Undergraduate honours degree in a relevant discipline, or an equivalent Level 6 qualification in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications
- Substantial experience in acting and/or performance (assessed on a case-by-case basis)
- If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS (academic) score of 7 or above for spoken English and 6.5 or above for written English. After completing your application form, please send your IELTS certificates to email@example.com.
- Students from other fields of study may be considered if you have sufficient practical experience in the field.
- In certain circumstances, RADA will also consider candidates with exceptional experience in performance and theatre who do not hold an undergraduate degree or qualifications equivalent to Level 6. Again, this is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The application form will ask for your CV. This should demonstrate your degree level qualifications and appropriate professional or work experience; show your engagement in theatre and acting/performance; and establish your credentials as someone who has the ability to take creative initiative.
It will also ask you for an 800-word statement of support. This should demonstrate your understanding of the course and share your experience in the field. It should also reflect on your thoughts concerning the potential role for theatre and performance in society, and give some attention to envisaging the work you'd like to be involved with in the future.
If you are selected for audition, we will invite you to participate in an in-person audition and interview at RADA, or to submit a self-tape audition video. We give equal weighting to in-person and self-tape auditions; there is no advantage or disadvantage to auditioning by either method.
If you attend an in-person audition, this will comprise (subject to change):
- a short written task (applicants who have disclosed Specific Learning Difficulties will be appropriately accommodated)
- a practical workshop (three hours), during which you'll participate in exercises, share your audition speeches and explore creative collaboration
- an interview following your audition, usually on the same day
If you submit a self-tape auditions, this will comprise:
- Your audition speeches and a personal statement
- A piece of physical performance
- A new creative piece of your own making, created specifically for this audition, possibly responding to one of the given stimuli
- Audition guidance notes will be sent to you if you are invited to audition
- You will need to prepare a speech of no more than 20 lines from a classical or heightened piece of text from a play or performance; and a contrasting speech of no more than 20 lines from a contemporary performance or play in English. These should be learnt fluently by heart.
- We do not provide feedback to audition candidates
- The decision of the audition panel is final
- You may apply only once per academic year
- In exceptional circumstances you may be invited to a recall audition
Information for disabled applicants
We consider diversity to be enriching and a vital part of what makes us one of the world leaders in providing vocational training. We encourage the opportunity for self-development regardless of age, gender, disability, ethnicity, marital status, nationality, sexual orientation, parental status, religion or belief.
We welcome applications from disabled applicants and encourage them to disclose relevant information regarding any disability when completing their application form, to enable us to provide additional support during the audition/interview process. If you are a disabled student and would like further advice or guidance, please contact the admissions team directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also read more information here.
Admissions, appeals and complaints
For information about RADA’s Admissions, Appeals and Complaints for higher education courses, please download and read our Admissions Appeals and Complaints document. Please note that this process covers the following courses:
- BA (Hons) in Acting
- FdA Technical Theatre and Stage Management
- BA (Hons) Technical Theatre and Stage Management (progression year)
- PgDip Theatre Costume
- MA Theatre Lab
- Foundation Course in Acting
Policies, terms and conditions
If you would like to know more about RADA’s admissions policies for higher education courses, please download and read our Admissions Policy.
Please download the RADA Fees Policy for more information about fee levels and increases, deposits and payment.
Please see our Student Protection Plan for information about how we protect your rights.
You can read our terms and conditions for students here.
MA Theatre Lab fees for entry in January 2022 will be:
Home (UK) students
Your course is one year in length so for Home (UK) students the total tuition will be £14,660. For International students, the total tuition will be £20,220.
See below for more information on whether you are classed as a Home (UK) or International student. This also affects the financial support available.
Please see the fees policy for more information about how RADA calculates tuition fee increases for each year of a course.
UK or International student?
There are strict regulations regarding residency, which must be met in order to qualify for Home (UK) student status. Please note: EU students who started a course in September 2020 or earlier are eligible to pay Home fees for the duration of their course; any EU student (except Irish nationals) starting a course from September 2021 onwards will have International student status, unless you have pre-settled status or settled status.
Home (UK) student
In order to be classed as a Home (UK) student you normally need to meet all of the following criteria on the first day of the first academic year of the course:
- you are settled in the UK (this means there is no immigration restriction on the length of your stay) and meet the residency requirement
- you are ordinarily resident in the UK, and have been for the full three years before the first day of the academic year (ordinarily resident means that your main home is in the UK, and you are choosing to live in the UK)
- the main reason for you being in the UK was not to receive full-time education.
If you do not fall under the Home (UK) fee definitions, then you will be classed as an International student.
International students coming to RADA on a full-time course of more than six months will require a Student Visa before coming to the UK to start your course. Without the visa you will not be allowed to enter the UK. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration website for further details.
The definitions on this page are only a very brief summary and there are several exceptions to the conditions listed. For more detailed information, please refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs guide.
Almost all materials you require for your course, including travel for any trips, will be included in your course costs.
Approximate costs for other materials: £300
The things not covered include practice clothes and footwear, play texts and stationery.
International students will need to pay for visa costs. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration website for further details.
Funding your training
It is important that you understand when you accept a place at RADA that you know how you will pay for it. We do not take account of financial need when offering places, but we do reasonably assume that if you are applying to come to RADA, you will be able to pay the fees and support yourself.
It is in your interest to provide us with information about how you intend to pay for your fees and support yourself through training, if you are not eligible for government-sponsored student finance.
Applying for a postgraduate loan
RADA is not able to offer scholarships for the MA Theatre Lab. If this situation changes, we will update information on the website.
Support for international students
For students defined as International, you are required to pay the full cost of your fees and living expenses. Your offer is made on the basis that you can meet these expenses from your own funds. There are also financial requirements associated with the allocation of a Student visa. Please visit the UK Visas & Immigration website for further details.
RADA is not, at present, eligible for US Federal Loans.
The MA Theatre Lab prepares you for both a conventional acting career and a more independent performance-making pathway. As Masters level students, graduates may also wish to apply their learning to developing a career in pedagogy and/or academia.
Graduates of the MA Theatre Lab work internationally in a range of theatre venues and companies, as well as in film and television, with many founding their own companies and creating new work.
Recent graduate destinations
Graduates have recently worked at:
- Battersea Arts Centre
- Bloomsbury Theatre Festival
- Black Cat Cabaret
- Cannes Film Festival
- Circle Theater, New York
- Les Enfant Terribles
- English Touring Theatre
- The Lowry, Salford
- National Theatre
- Physical Fest, Liverpool
- Polka Theatre
- Pop-up Globe, New Zealand
- Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
- Shakespeare's Globe
- Song of the Goat Theatre
- Theatre Alibi
- Theatre de la Ville, Luxembourg
- Theatre Re
- Timesis Theatre, Liverpool
- Tobacco Factory Theatres
- Tristan Bates Theatre
- Underbelly Festival, Southbank
- New Public; Animikii Theatre; Hot Coals Theatre; Eden’s Cave; Be•wilder Theatre; Psychopomp Theatre Collective; Knaïve Theatre; Muntjac Theatre; Objective Entertainment – all existing theatre companies founded by MA Theatre Lab graduates.
There is no upper age restriction. The course is very physically demanding and candidates are considered for audition based on their application.
Yes, we accept students from all over the world. If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS (academic) score of 7 or above for spoken English and 6.5 or above for written English. After completing your application form, please send your IELTS certificates to email@example.com.
We no longer produce a physical prospectus. All the information you need about our full-time courses can be found on our website, including course content, costs and funding, graduate destinations, the application process, welfare support and where to live.
All in-person auditions for the MA Theatre Lab take place at RADA in London. However, you can also submit a self-tape film for your audition - please see the How to Apply section above.
RADA accepts 18 students onto the MA Theatre Lab course each year.
We review all applications prior to selection for audition, which can take some time. As soon as your application has been processed, you will be notified whether or not you have been selected to audition.
Please note the admissions office can get incredibly busy at peak times while we process applications and schedule auditions. We’ll try to get back to you as promptly as possible. If you haven’t heard from us after one month of sending your application, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so we can confirm whether we have received your application, or update you on whether you are being invited to audition.
The application fee (£34) will only be processed if you are invited to audition. We will contact you about payment if this applies to you.
The fee is applicable to candidates who are invited to audition. The application fee is not refundable under any circumstances.
If you are issued an in-person audition date that you cannot attend, please contact email@example.com as soon as possible. Due to the high numbers of applicants, we have a very limited capacity to reschedule auditions.
If you are ill on the day, please email firstname.lastname@example.org in advance of your audition. We will try to provide an alternative date, but this may not be possible and is dependent on where we are in the audition cycle.
No, only in exceptional circumstances.
There are different fees for UK and international students. You must have lived in the UK for three consecutive years prior to starting the course in order to qualify for Home (UK) level tuition fees. If, for example, you were born in the UK but then moved to Australia for twenty years, you would be liable to pay the international rate. Please see the UKCISA website for more information on Home and overseas fees.
Please read the information under 'Tuition fees' above to know if you are a UK or international student.
RADA is not, at present, eligible for US Federal Loans.
Generally, we do not accept student transfers into our higher education courses. For our acting and performance courses students are auditioned for places (including through several rounds of audition for the BA (Hons) in Acting). The courses are structured in a way that means it is not easy for someone to join part way through, unless they’ve already completed some of the training, for example when someone starts a RADA course and then interrupts for a short period. Should a student decide to move elsewhere, we would support them in finding appropriate study and work with our validating universities to recognise achievement through an exit award, as appropriate.
We are not able to support students transferring between courses at RADA, particularly between acting and theatre production degrees as these are very different and vocational pathways. A student wishing to change direction would need to be interviewed or auditioned to join one of the other courses.
You can download our policy statement on transferring courses here.
The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 and is now in a transition period. In June 2020, the UK government announced that EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fee status or financial support from Student Finance England for courses starting in the 2021-22 academic year. This does not apply to Irish nationals, or anyone who benefits from Citizens’ Rights under the EU Withdrawal Agreement, EEA EFTA Separation Agreement or Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement.
Due to the travel restrictions in place in response to Covid-19, we are planning to offer both an in-person and a digital options for the admissions process for next year's intake; please see details in the How to Apply section above.
Current RADA students are continuing their courses with a blended learning approach, with in-person training taking place when permitted, dependent on government restrictions. We will continue to adapt our training in light of changing government protocols and advice, but please note courses beginning in September 2021 (undergraduates) and January 2022 (MA Theatre Lab) may encompass some elements of online training.
RADA is currently closed to the public and to visitors without prior appointment. Please read more about our Covid-19 protocols here.