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.
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 September to September 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 final fourth term, over the summer, you will work as an ensemble (in one group or more where appropriate) alongside a professional director to create a piece of work for public performance. The rehearsal process, performance and accompanying reflective document will together constitute your MA dissertation project.
Throughout the year there will be further opportunities to share your work and receive extensive feedback from staff and visiting professionals.
The MA Theatre Lab has been undergoing a review and any changes to the course are subject to final approval by King’s College London.
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 three terms centre around rigorous studio-based approaches to performance.
You will explore text through approaches to acting from Stanislavski’s innovatory later period of work and acting practices ranging from expressionism and Epic Theatre to Jacques Copeau, Vsevolod Meyerhold and Jerzy Grotowski. 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 Developing Performance sessions will enable you to further enhance your training, through ensemble and individual experimentation, applying your emerging skills.
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
In term four you will engage in the intensive, full-time process of devising a production for public performance.
This is the opportunity to test your ability as a collaborative, creative artist and theatre-maker within an ensemble environment, working with a professional theatre-maker.
The process also offers 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 focuses on writing a reflective essay on this experience.
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 (end of July to September) 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 2021 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. Please note: as part of the review, the credit structure for this module would become 20 credits, to allow for Developing Performance to be assessed at 20 credits, and would be continuous and synoptic assessment. This is subject to King's College London approval of the course review.
- 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
How to apply
Complete the application form and post it to RADA at the address on the form. Late applications will not be considered under any circumstances.
There is a non-refundable application fee of £55. The application fee is only processed on offer of an audition.
- An undergraduate honours degree or equivalent (Level 6 in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications) and a minimum of three years’ significant experience as a practising actor or performer.
- In exceptional circumstances, RADA will also consider candidates with sufficient professional experience who do not hold an undergraduate degree or qualifications equivalent to Level 6.
- If English is not your first language, you will need an IELTS (academic) score of 8.0 or above for spoken English and 7.5 or above for written English. Please submit your certificates with your application.
Please note that this is a physically demanding practical course.
The application form will ask for your CV. This should demonstrate your degree level qualifications and appropriate professional or work experience; show an established interest in theatre and acting/performance; and establish your credentials as someone who has the ability to take unusual and creative initiatives.
It will also ask you for an 800-word statement of support. This should demonstrate a deep understanding and commitment to a future in the theatre. It should also demonstrate a thoughtful consideration of the role of the actor and your understanding of yourself as an actor and performer. It should also give some attention to your present sense of your future pathway.
If you are selected for audition, we will invite you to RADA for a workshop-based session and an interview. Auditions/interviews will be held in February and May 2020.
Please note: you are welcome to apply for both the MA Theatre Lab and MA in Text and Performance, but you must apply for each course individually and pay each fee separately.
You can find more detail about what to prepare for each stage of the audition process in our Admissions Procedure guide.
If you are invited to audition this will comprise:
- a short written test (applicants who have disclosed Specific Learning Difficulties will be appropriately accommodated)
- a practical workshop (three hours)
- an interview following your workshop, usually on the same day
- Audition guidance notes will be sent to you if you are invited to audition
- You may be called for an audition at short notice
- You will need to prepare a speech of no more than 20 lines from Shakespeare or an Elizabethan/Jacobean playwright, and a short contrasting speech of no more than 20 lines from a modern 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
You will be assessed on the following criteria for entrance onto the course:
- quality of your engagement in the workshop
- understanding of the actor’s contribution to ensemble and performance
- how you approach work with fellow actors
- level of maturity shown
- ability to learn from and contribute to the course
- creative potential
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 email@example.com.
Find out more in our Admissions Procedure guide.
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.
Costs and funding
MA Theatre Lab (postgraduate) fees for the academic year 2020-21 will be:
Home students (UK and EU)
Your course is one year in length so for Home students the total tuition will be £14,500. For International students, the total tuition will be £20,000.
See below for more information on whether you are classed as a Home (UK), Home (EU) 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, EU or international student?
There are strict regulations regarding residency which must be met in order to qualify for Home Student status. All EU students who are offered a place at RADA are required to verify their EU status prior to the offer of the place being confirmed.
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)
- 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.
You will be classed as a Home (EU) student if, on the first day of the first academic year of your course:
- you are an EU national, or the relevant family member of a non-UK EU national, who is in the UK as a self-sufficient person or as a student, or the relevant family member of a UK national
- you must have been ordinarily resident in the European Economic Area and/or Switzerland and/or the overseas territories for the three years before the first day of the first academic year of the course
- you must not have been resident wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education
All EU students offered a provisional place at RADA are required to verify their EU status prior to the offer of the place being confirmed. Please contact the Student Finance Services European Team on EU_Team@slc.co.uk or +44 (0)141 243 3570.
You will need to complete and return an application to the EU team to be assessed for financial support.
If you do not fall under the Home (UK) or Home (EU) 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 Tier 4 (General) Student Visa before coming to the UK to start your course. Without the visa you will not be allowed to enter the UK. Please download our guide for more information.
The definitions on this page are only a very brief summary and there are a number of 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.
Other materials costs: £300
The things not covered include practice clothes and footwear, play texts and stationery.
International students will need to pay for visa costs.
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’ (neither a UK nor EU student - see above for more details), 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 Tier 4 visa.
RADA is not, at present, eligible for US Federal Loans. We will notify any US applicants in year if this situation changes.
Life at RADA
We are a close-knit, welcoming arts community where our students are individually supported throughout their training and beyond. Our students and staff come from many different backgrounds and from all over the world; we are united by our shared passion and commitment to theatre-making and storytelling.
We are based in Bloomsbury in Central London, near to University College London, Birkbeck, SOAS, the British Library, British Museum and a short walk to Covent Garden, the Southbank (National Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe) and West End theatres. We are well-served by transport links, with mainline railway stations (King’s Cross, Euston, St Pancras) and a number of underground lines and buses within easy reach. Our location means we remain easily accessible for members of industry and the profession.
Classes and rehearsals are based in our buildings on Gower Street and Chenies Street. Gower Street, with its familiar façade, has been RADA’s home since 1905 and combines our history and heritage with contemporary theatre facilities that replicate today’s industry standards.
Our three theatres give you the opportunity to work in industry-standard spaces: the Jerwood Vanbrugh Theatre, a fully flexible theatre with 190 seats; the GBS Theatre, a studio theatre seating up to 80; and the Gielgud Theatre, an intimate studio space seating up to 50. All our students will work in at least one of these theatres during their time at RADA.
Studios and workshops
We have a range of studios and workshop spaces across our buildings on Gower Street and Chenies Street. These include teaching and rehearsal studios for actors; dedicated metalwork, carpentry, scenic art, video and props workshops; extensive props and costume stores; a costume-making workroom; a CAD suite; state-of-the-art sound studios; and equipment for filming on and off-site.
Our library houses a large collection of rare and out-of-print plays in the English language. You will also have access to a number of digital resources.
Refectory and RADA Bar
The Refectory offers subsidised meals for students (for example a salad bowl is £1.50) with hot and cold food daily. You may also heat up your own food to eat in the Refectory. The RADA Bar and café is open to staff, students and the public during the day (and in the evening during public productions), and offers a discount for RADA students.
Student services and support
We have a dedicated Student and Academic Services (SAS) department who are here to support you during your time at RADA from before you arrive until after you leave. You can drop in and see us if you need letters confirming student status, if you have queries about fees or student finance, or need assistance in applying for student finance.
We aim to get to know all students at RADA so we can help with your particular needs. You can find out who we are on the staff page.
Student wellbeing services
The Student Wellbeing Service is located in our Chenies Street building and includes pastoral care and access to counselling at a time that suits our students’ busy schedules. Students can drop in or make an appointment to see someone, free of charge.
RADA has a relationship with a local GP (Ridgmount Practice), which is open to students living in designated postcodes. We can advise you on areas which will give access to this practice, especially if you have ongoing health needs. RADA offers students free access to physiotherapy on referral.
Chaplaincy and faith services
We have students from all faiths at RADA and our Student and Academic Services team can also put you in touch with someone from a particular faith to support you at RADA. We do not have prayer rooms on site at RADA.
Support for disabled students
We support students as individuals at RADA, and we will work with you to make appropriate adjustments and ensure that you can obtain additional support. We encourage potential students to disclose any disabilities early in the application process so we can make reasonable adjustments for you.
You can apply for Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSA) to cover some of the extra costs that you might have because of a mental health problem, long-term illness or other disability. These allowances are additional to your other student finance and you won’t need to repay them. Find out more information about DSA here.
Once you have a place at RADA, we can assist in identifying whether you are eligible for support. You will likely require a ‘needs assessment’ to determine what adjustments and financial assistance is necessary. We have a relationship with the North London Regional Access Centre (run by Middlesex University), and direct students to this service.
In keeping with our personalised training, you may be able to receive additional support for any condition or impairment directly from RADA. We will determine this with you as you progress through your course.
Where to live
RADA does not currently have its own student accommodation. This means that our students live in one of the following:
- local halls of residence, including those run privately
- with other students in private houses and flats
- lodging with another person.
Find out more
Once you have accepted your place at RADA, we will provide information about local accommodation contacts. We aim to connect incoming students with one another, which can help you to look for accommodation together. Our current students will also be looking for people to share with, and we also help you to make those connections.
Some students will carrying on living at home whilst at RADA and others live across London. We advise that you balance out both the time and cost of a commute with spaces that might seem more expensive, but are closer to the Academy – you will spend a lot of time here.
Our students pay an average of around £650 per month (based on a 12-month contract) for a room in a shared house. Some private halls can be considerably more expensive. If you have specific access needs, please speak to someone in our Student and Academic Services team for assistance in finding an appropriate place to live.
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
- Black Cat Cabaret
- Cannes Film Festival
- Circle Theater, New York
- Les Enfant Terribles
- English Touring Theatre
- The Lowry, Salford
- National Theatre
- Polka Theatre
- Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
- Shakespeare's Globe
- Song of the Goat Theatre
- 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; Be•wilder Theatre – all new 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. If English is not your first language, we will ask you to demonstrate IELTS (academic) levels of 8 or above for spoken English and 7.5 or above for written English. Please submit your IELTS certificate with your application form.
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.
If you would like printed information, we also produce a leaflet with key information about our courses. These are available to pick up at RADA, or can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yes, we hold open days for the MA Theatre Lab course and dates for 2019-20 will be announced soon. Keep an eye on the What's On section of the website for further details.
No, all auditions for the MA Theatre Lab take place at RADA.
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 of £55 will only be processed if you are invited to audition.
We will process the application fee if you are invited to audition. The application fee is not refundable under any circumstances.
If you are issued a 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.
We currently only accept applications for the MA Theatre Lab by post directly to RADA. Please aim to have your application sent at least a week prior to the deadline with the correct postage amount, to avoid your application being delayed. Overseas applicants should send their applications in plenty of time before the deadline in case of delay.
No, only in exceptional circumstances. You should apply for a place in the year before the September you wish to begin your training.
There are different fees for UK, EU and international students. You must have lived in the UK or EU for three consecutive years prior to starting the course in order to qualify for UK/EU 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 read the information under 'Tuition fees' above to know if you are an UK, EU or international student.
RADA is not, at present, eligible for US Federal Loans.