On Monday 8 December, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama hosted its annual Graduation Ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. Alongside a class of new graduates, Central awarded Honorary Fellowships to Steven Berkoff, Maria Friedman and Sonia Friedman, and bestowed upon its retiring Deputy Principal (Academic), Professor Simon Shepherd, a Professorship Emeritus of Theatre.
Officiating the ceremony was Central’s Principal, Professor Gavin Henderson CBE, with Professor Sir Adrian Smith FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, also in attendance to confer degrees upon the graduands.
Renowned actor, writer and director Steven Berkoff, who is also an alumnus of the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art, was presented for Fellowship by Central’s Head of Acting, Geoffrey Colman. “Berkoff’s place in the history of World Theatre is without question”, said Colman. “His work touched my life thirty years ago, and has touched the lives of countless other artists and audiences for over fifty years. I’m so proud and delighted that he was honoured with our graduates on this special day.”
Also receiving Honorary Fellowship of Central were Maria and Sonia Freidman. Professor Gavin Henderson presented Sonia Friedman, an alumna of Central’s Stage Management Course, for Fellowship, whilst noting her incredible producing career and, in particular, the success of her production company, Sonia Friedman Productions. Founded in 2002, SFP has won multiple Olivier and Tony Awards and has been responsible for some of the most successful theatre productions in London and on Broadway in the past several years.
In accepting her Fellowship, Sonia Friedman introduced her sister, three times Olivier award winning performer Maria Friedman, for the same award and then accepted it on her behalf. Maria Friedman’s stage career as an actor has been unrivalled, and her award winning directorial debut of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Merrily We Roll Along (which was work-shopped in its early stages at Central) secured a highly successful transfer from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the West End in 2013.
The Ceremony also marked the retirement of Central’s Deputy Principal (Academic), Professor Simon Shepherd, and his receipt of Professorship Emeritus of Theatre. He was introduced by Professor Ross Brown, Dean of Studies, with the title conferred by Professor Sir Adrian Smith FRS. Professor Shepherd joined Central in 2001 as Director of Programmes, following on from his time as Professor of Drama at both Goldsmiths and the University of Nottingham. His work has been widely published and his most recent book, The Cambridge Introduction to Performance Theory, is scheduled for release in 2016.
The entire Central community offers its heart felt congratulations to this year’s graduating class as they embark on their professional journeys. We warmly welcome them into the alumni association and look forward to keeping in touch.
The entire Central community offers its heart felt congratulations to this year’s graduating class as they embark on their professional journeys.