On Monday 12 December, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama hosted its annual Graduation Ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall. Alongside a class of exceptional new graduates, Central awarded Honorary Fellowship to three extraordinary members of the industry: Martin Freeman, Gareth Fry and Kully Thiarai. In addition, the school also awarded an Honorary Doctorate to Lee Hall.
Central alumnus and acclaimed actor Martin Freeman has, since 2010, been seen in the role of Dr John Watson in Sherlock. In addition to his Outstanding Supporting Actor Emmy win and nomination, Sherlock saw him receive a Best Supporting Actor at the 2011 BAFTAs and with an additional nomination in 2012. His film credits are extensive, including Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War, and as Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series. Best known for his comedic roles, he has appeared in Love Actually, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End. One of Martin’s most well-known film roles remains that of lead Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. In television productions, he has received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for Best Actor for his starring role in the Coen brothers’ Fargo adaptation, and BAFTA nominations in 2002 and 2004 for his role of Tim Canterbury in The Office. On stage, Martin was most recently seen in the title role of Richard III at the Trafalgar Studios.
Gareth Fry is an award-winning sound designer best known for creating work for leading UK theatre directors such as John Tiffany, Complicite’s Simon McBurney, Sacha Wares and Katie Mitchell. He is chairman of the Association of Sound Designers. In 2012, Gareth was asked by Danny Boyle to design the sound effects for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. He won the 2007 Olivier Award for his work on Waves at the National Theatre with Katie Mitchell, for which he was described by The Guardian as ‘visionary’. He won the 2009 Olivier Award for his work on National Theatre of Scotland’s Black Watch directed by John Tiffany, and the 2008 Helpmann Award for the performances in Australia. Gareth’s work includes more than twenty productions at the National Theatre, over a dozen at the Royal Court and countless more at venues such as the Donmar Warehouse, Old Vic, Young Vic and in the West End. He has worked extensively internationally, including New York, Berlin, Cologne and Dublin.
“I’m very proud to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship. I value the time I spent at Central as a student very highly, and it had a significant impact on my career. Central is an institution that leads the theatre world with many of its courses, Sound Design for the theater being one of these.” – Gareth Fry
Lee Hall’s writing career started in radio, notably his plays Spoonface Steinberg and I Luv U Jimmy Spud won various awards which lead to writing for film and theatre. He has been writer-in-residence at Live Theatre, Newcastle and the RSC. His plays for theatre include Cooking with Elvis, (Live Theatre, Newcastle), The Pitmen Painters (Live Theatre, RNT) and Billy Elliot – The Musical. His adaptations include Leonce and Lena (The Gate), Pinocchio (Lyric, Hammersmith), The Barber of Seville (Bristol Old Vic), The Good Hope (RNT), Mother Courage (Shared Experience), Mr Puntila And His Man Matti (Almeida), A Servant To Two Masters (RSC, Young Vic), Shakespeare In Love (West End), Our Ladies Of Perpetual Succour (National Theatre of Scotland) and I Pagliacci (ENO). He has worked extensively as a screenwriter for film and television with credits including Toast, The Student Prince, The Wind in the Willows (BBC), Billy Elliot (Working Title) and WarHorse (Dreamworks). He has just finished shooting Victoria and Abdul starring Judi Dench and directed by Stephen Frears, and his stage adaptation of the movie Network will premiere at the National Theatre, directed by Ivo van Hove, next year.
Kully Thiarai is an experienced Theatre Director and is currently Artistic Director and Chief Executive of National Theatre Wales. She was, until May 2016, a founding Director of Cast in Doncaster: a £22 million performance venue that she opened as the cultural living room for the town; a place for performance, participation and provocation. Working in the performing arts for many years as an Artist, Arts Strategist and Consultant, Kully has led a number of organisations and companies. She was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre, Manchester, Leicester Haymarket Theatre, Theatre Writing Partnership and Red Ladder Theatre Company, Leeds. Her extensive experience includes commissioning, producing and directing work nationally and internationally, developing and nurturing talent and creating opportunities for those who may have little, or no, access to the arts. She has created a diverse range of work that spans communities, cultures and performance styles; has directed large-scale epics, new plays and made work in non-theatre spaces. Kully is a Clore Theatre Fellow, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Trustee of the Manchester International Festival.
“I’m thrilled to receive this Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and rather overwhelmed to be in such illustrious company. I’m also particularly delighted that it is in recognition for my work at Cast in Doncaster, where our ambition to create a ‘cultural living room’ for the town, that hat little or no arts provision, was so embraced by the public.” – Kully Thiarai
The Honorands join with Central in congratulating the newly graduated Class of 2016 and in wishing them every success in their future careers. Wherever their future takes them after graduation, they will always remain an important part of the Central network, and Central is committed to ensuring that graduate's links with the School do not end at graduation, but are carried throughout their lives. For more information on the support and benefits available to Central alumni, please visit the Alumni Association page.
I’m very proud to be awarded an Honorary Fellowship. I value the time I spent at Central as a student very highly, and it had a significant impact on my career. Central is an institution that leads the theatre world with many of its courses, Sound Design for the theater being one of these.