On Wednesday 27 February 2019, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama was visited by its Royal Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra. The visit marked the official opening of the School’s new North Block building and provided the Princess with an opportunity to meet staff and students and observe a variety of student work.
Princess Alexandra was greeted by Central’s President and alumnus Michael Grandage, together with the Chair of its Governing Body, John Willis, and its Principal, Professor Gavin Henderson. She was then escorted on a tour of the new facilities where she observed classes from the School’s Drama, Applied Theatre and Education and Movement: Directing and Teaching courses.
The Princess and guests at the opening event were entertained by performances from the Acting Musical Theatre course’s production of The Life, MA Music Theatre course’s production of The Tunnel, and a short, critically-acclaimed film from the MA Acting for Stage and Screen course.
Following the tour, Princess Alexandra met with staff and student representatives, members of the design and project teams for the new building and friends and supporters of the School at a private reception held in the new Courtyard Theatre. She was presented with flowers by Student Union President Holly Barraclough on behalf of the student body before unveiling a brass plaque commemorating her visit and the building’s official opening.
The North Block building, designed by an award-winning team at Tim Ronalds Architects, has provided Central with a major increase in rehearsal and performance space for its students. The new building houses five large, double-height studios including a movement studio with sprung floors, a sound studio with facilities to prepare students for work in broadcast, film and digital media, two fully equipped rehearsal studios, a new workshop space, a full range of ancillary spaces including new dressing and teaching rooms, and a new galleried Courtyard Theatre.
Of the event, Central’s Principal, Professor Gavin Henderson, said:
“We are delighted that our Patron, HRH Princess Alexandra, was with us to formally open our new North Block development. Up and down the lift, she engaged with all sorts of student activity in the five new major studios and performance spaces. ‘I must come back for a show, and soon’ she said… and so she shall!”
Princess Alexandra previously visited Central in 2013 for a ceremony to bestow Honorary Fellowship on Julian Rudd and Claire Bloom and to celebrate the School’s receipt of Royal Title.