2017 Graduation Ceremony | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Congratulations to the Central Class of 2017!

2017 Graduation Ceremony

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Congratulations to the Central Class of 2017!

On Monday 11 December, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama hosted its annual Graduation Ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall.  Alongside a class of new graduates, Central awarded Honorary Fellowship to Jatinder Verma, Deborah Warner, and the former Chair of its Board of Governors, Paul Taiano.  In addition, the school also awarded an Honorary Professorship to Gilli Bush-Bailey.

As Artistic Director of Tara Arts, Jatinder Verma has developed a unique cross-cultural theatre style – Binglish – where Asian theatre sensibilities meet European drama.  Having led the company since its inception in 1977, Jatinder has recently overseen the development of Tara’s new Theatre in Earlsfield, south London as an award-winning architectural fusion of East and West.  Jatinder has contributed to a variety of published essays on theatre, as well as having presented a range of programmes for radio and TV.  He is author of the children’s book ‘Prince of Fire’.  He also wrote, with Claudia Mayer, a three-part dramatisation of The Mahabharata for BBC Radio 4 (first broadcast in 2007.

Jatinder has received Honorary Doctorates from De Montfort Leicester, Exeter and York universities and he has a Research Fellowship from Rose Bruford College.  In 2007, he was awarded an MBE for services to diversity.

“I am delighted and humbled in equal measure to be receiving an Honorary Fellowship from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  Humbled by the illustrious company I will be keeping and delighted at the recognition of my work with Tara Arts, where connecting worlds is both a statement of fact and a motor for creativity in our diverse world.” – Jatinder Verma

Central alumna Deborah Warner is a world renowned director of theatre and opera.  Her theatre credits include Titus Andronicus for the RSC (Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Direction), Richard II for the National Theatre (French Critic’s Best Foreign Production), Hedda Gabler for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin/Playhouse Theatre, London (Laurence Olivier Awards for Direction and Production), Medea for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin/ Queens Theatre, London/US tour and Broadway (Evening Standard Award for Direction, three Tony nominations and two Obies), and three devised installation pieces The St Pancras Project.  Deborah’s production of The Waste Land with Fiona Shaw visited Brussels, Dublin, Paris, Montreal, Toronto, Brighton, Adelaide, Bergen, Perth, Madrid, London, and the Liberty Theatre in New York – where it won two New York Drama Desk Awards.  She has directed opera for the Royal Opera House, Opera North, Glyndebourne, English National Opera and the Teatro Real.  Her television credits include Hedda Gabler (BBC), Richard II (Illuminations TV/BBC) and St John Passion (BBC).

Deborah was awarded the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government in 1992, L’Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 2000, and Commandeaur des Arts et des Lettres in 2013.  She was created a CBE in the 2006 Queen’s 80th Birthday Honours for services to drama.

“I am delighted to have been nominated to receive an Honorary Fellowship of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  I trained at Central from 1977 – 1979 straight from school, and so it was my doorway to London, the theatre and a world.  The health and future of our profession in large part depends on the vitality of institutions such as Central, and I am happy that with this Fellowship my ties to Central are further strengthened.” – Deborah Warner

Paul Taiano joined Central’s Board of Governors in December 1996, chaired the Audit Committee for one year from March 2004 and served as Chairman of Governors from March 2005 to July 2017.  Other voluntary positions include being a member of the BAFTA Finance and Audit Committee and acting as non-executive Chairman of Huntingdon Racecourse, which is owned by the Jockey Club and operates the National Hunt racetrack at Huntingdon. 

Paul is a senior partner in a London firm of chartered accountants, Nyman Libson Paul, having joined as a trainee in 1979, qualified in 1982 and was promoted to partner in 1986.  The majority of his client base is connected with the entertainment industry, including theatre, film and television.

“I am very honoured to have been nominated for Fellowship of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and proud to have served on the Board of Governors for the past twenty years.  I have particularly enjoyed my twelve years as Chairman of the Board.  We have accomplished a great many things during these past two decades, and I look forward to a continued close relationship with Central and to seeing what exciting developments the future holds, both for the School and also for today’s graduands.” – Paul Taiano

Gilli Bush-Bailey’s first career as an actress began when she was twelve years old.  Having trained at Arts Educational in London, she left school at fifteen to make the televised film series Here Come The Double Deckers in 1970, going on to more work in television and then theatre.  Her academic training started as a mature student at Kingston University (BA English), followed by an MA in Research (1997) and a PhD (2000) at Royal Holloway, University of London.  Gilli remained at Royal Holloway for the next twelve years teaching and publishing, and was the Director of Graduate Studies for four years and Head of Department for a further three years, where she took a leading role in delivering the landmark Caryl Churchill Theatre.  Gilli came to Central in 2013 and her research has continued to focus on the way stories are told about women as performance practitioners and how such histories influence today’s actresses and theatre makers.

Gilli is Chair of the Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA), an honorary life member of the Standing Conference of University Drama Departments and a member of Equity.

“It is a huge honour to be made Professor Emerita of Women’s Performance Histories at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and to keep my connection with a vibrant community that contributes so much to both the industry and the academy.  Research@Central is unique, and I am proud to continue to be part of it.” – Gilli Bush-Bailey

The Honorands join with Central in congratulating the newly graduated Class of 2017 and in wishing them 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.



Central . . . was my doorway to London, the theatre and a world.  The health and future of our profession in large part depends on the vitality of institutions such as Central, and I am happy that with this Fellowship my ties to Central are further strengthened.

Deborah Warner