MA Theatre Lab
Information on this page relates to Entry 2023 and will be updated in the Autumn for our next recruitment cycle.
Is this course right for me?
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.
You can find out more about life as a student at RADA here.
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.
There is an application fee which we will only charge for applicants to are invited to audition.
The MA Theatre Lab is a four term course, running for 12 months from January to January.
RADA's MA Theatre Lab expands your ability to work both collaboratively and independently as an actor and theatre maker. Working rigorously with expert practitioners, you will explore actor-centred approaches and apply them innovatively to extant texts, working on and creating new and original performance. This will empower you to play a revitalising role in today’s theatre-making landscape.
The course is ideally for applicants who already have strong experience in performance. Instead of replicating RADA's three-year training in one year, it aims to build on applicants’ existing experience, whilst extending their training.
In term one and two, learning and assessment will be focused on a practical exploration of techniques in acting and performance, physical and vocal skills and devising. This learning will be reinforced by reflecting, writing and analysing on your experience.
In your third term, you will work over the summer as an ensemble alongside a professional director to create a full-length original piece of work for public performance.
Whilst continuing your training and study in a fourth term, you work towards making 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 Works Festival. This process will be supervised and mentored by members of staff and people from the industry.
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 work on several approaches to acting and performance in Performing Lab 1 and 2.
You will explore texts and theatre-making in the Laboratory and Studio style, applying approaches ranging from Stanislavski's influential legacy, acting practices associated to Epic theatre, clowning, physical theatre, and ensemble performance from around the world. Through this work you will develop your own creative practice.
Across terms one, two and four the Development of Performance sessions will enable you to further enhance your training, through collective and individual experimentation, applying your emerging skills to the making of new work.
2. Contextual studies and theatre history
In terms one and two, contextual studies emphasises the links between historical context and practice, examining developments in theatre internationally through 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 predominantly a ‘via negativa’ based approach.
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.
Timetable and workload
Term one, two and four are 12 weeks long, with compulsory attendance from Wednesday evening to Saturday evening for an intensive 25-30 hours.
However, 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 notes. 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 and optional extracurricular activities, commitment to which will add to the workload .
Furthermore, you will have timetabled meetings at least twice a term with the course leader and receive regular feedback from other members of the faculty.
Note that, between spring and summer terms, students will have a one-week intensive work session as a part of the Developing Performance module. This may involve preparing work for possible festival visits over the year.
Term 3, over August, involves work Monday-Saturday. Normally you'll work 10am-6pm daily over a six-week full-time block of supervised devising work, leading to a public production at RADA. This is followed by a further two weeks of independent work on the final reflective essay.
You can find our term dates up to summer 2025 here.
The MA Theatre Lab leads to an unclassified masters degree; 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.
- Movement/physical and voice (20 credits)
continuous assessment over all four terms.
- Contextual studies and theatre history (20 credits)
in-class continual assessment over two terms and end term 2 written assignment
- Performing Lab 1 (20 credits)
term 1 presentation and reflective written essay.
- Performing Lab 2 (20 credits)
term 2 presentations
- Dissertation/public performance (40 credits)
term 3 practical production and written dissertation
- Performing Lab 3 (20 credits)
term 4 presentation and reflective written essay
- Developing Performance (40 credits)
terms 1, 2 and 4 continual assessment and performance
Complete the application form online. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.
There is a non-refundable application fee which 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
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.
Accessing the application form:
- Applications are online – you will need access to the internet and can complete the form using a desktop computer, mobile or any other electronic device (e.g. iPad, tablet).
- If you find that the form doesn't work, try using a different browser. We recommend Chrome or Safari.
Before you start:
- We ask questions about you including your contact details and qualifications. Please ensure you have this information before you start.
- 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 internal use only.
- You will need to provide a brief summary of your CV.
- You will need to write an 800 word statement in support of your application.
- You will need to upload a reference from someone who knows your work.
Completing the form:
- 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 can choose to 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)
- 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 applicants 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.
English is not my first language. How is fluency in English Assessed?
Applicants should have excellent conversational English and be able to understand a variety of texts. As with all applicants, during the audition the panel will consider how you deliver your speeches and also how you are able to interact and converse with them.
If English is not your first language, you may need to provide proof of your English language ability.
For non-UK applicants, we recommend that you read the guidelines published by UK Visas and Immigration. RADA can choose how to assess a student’s knowledge of English.
Applicants must be at CEFR level C1 or IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in all areas.
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.
You should also submit a reference from someone who knows your work.
If you are selected for audition, we will invite you to participate in an in-person audition and interview on the same day at RADA, or to submit a self-tape audition video followed by a digital interview at a later date. 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
- You will be invited to a digital interview at a later date
- 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 applicants
- 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 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 email@example.com. 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 2023 will be:
Home (UK) students
Your course is one year in length so for Home (UK) students the total tuition will be £16,160. For International students, the total tuition will be £22,290.
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. 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.
Your fee status is decided prior to your starting the course and cannot usually be changed once the course has started.
If you are unsure which category you fall into, please read this guide from the UK Council for International Student Affairs.
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, yoga mats and footwear, play texts and stationery.
Please note: in some cases students may purchase elements of costume and props for their own work that will not be automatically refunded by RADA. In general, students should try and work with what is available to them.
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.
Applying for a postgraduate Master's loan
If you are from the UK, you may be eligible to apply for a postgraduate Master's loan. This loan is not based on income and can provide a maximum of up to £11,836. It is paid directly to the applicant and can be used to pay tuition fees or living costs. If you intend to use the loan to pay for tuition fees, please note that the maximum amount does not cover the full cost of the course. You will be expected to cover the balance.
Visit www.gov.uk for more information.
RADA is not currently 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 courses are not eligible for US Federal Loans.
Where do MA Theatre Lab Graduates work?
Recent graduate destinations
Graduates have recently worked at:
- Battersea Arts Centre
- Berlinale Film Festival
- Bloomsbury Theatre Festival
- Black Cat Cabaret
- Brooklyn Art Haus
- Cannes Film Festival
- Circle Theater, New York
- Coronet Theatre
- Les Enfant Terribles
- English Touring Theatre
- Flabbergast Theatre
- The Lowry, Salford
- LG Arts Center, South Korea
- National Theatre
- National Theatre of Romania
- Physical Fest, Liverpool
- Polka Theatre
- Pop-up Globe, New Zealand
- Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
- Royal Shakespeare Company
- 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
- Vaults Festival
- Voila! European Theatre Festival
Theatre Companies founded by MA Theatre Lab graduates
- Animikii Theatre
- Bare Theatre
- Be•wilder Theatre
- Bound By Theatre
- Bunkum Ensemble
- Eden’s Cave
- Facing North Theatre
- Hot Coals Theatre
- Knaïve Theatre
- Muntjac Theatre
- New Public
- Objective Entertainment
- Psychopomp Theatre Collective
- Saski Bisou
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.
There is no upper age restriction. The course is very physically demanding and applicants are considered for audition based on their application.
Applicants should have excellent conversational English and be able to understand a variety of texts. If English is not your first language, you may need to provide proof of your English language ability. For more information see English Language Requirements or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also recommend that you read the guidelines published by UK Visas and Immigration.
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 email@example.com so we can confirm whether we have received your application, or update you on whether you are being invited to audition.
The application fee will only be processed if you are invited to audition. We will send you a payment link if you are selected.
The application fee is applicable to applicants who are invited to audition and is used to cover the cost of processing and reviewing your application. This fee is not refundable under any circumstances.
If you are issued an in-person audition date that you cannot attend, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com 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.
In exceptional circumstances we may agree to defer entry for a maximum of two years.
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 courses are not eligible for US Federal Loans.
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 possible for someone to join part way through.
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.