Open letter to all graduates of the Central School of Speech and Drama
Diploma in Acting/B.A. Acting
It used be said that among the least useful things in the world was a good review in The Stage. Sadly we must expand this category to include a Diploma in Acting. It wasn’t the case when I graduated in 1983, but it is now.
For almost the whole of the last 2,500 years, you did not need a degree to be an actor or to teach acting. Now entry level actors must gain a degree.
Several of the finest actors I’ve met and worked with over the past 30 years had no institutional training at all. A majority of those in middle age in the profession do not hold degrees, although most did train in one of the Accredited Drama Schools (UK) or conservatories (USA).
It has changed since they built theatres at Delphi and Epidaurus, and since Roscius made the journey from Roman slave to Roman celebrity.
The Diploma in Acting was replaced by the B.A. (Hons) Acting at Central in 1992. Currently the school offers no system for Diploma graduates to convert their qualification.
Notwithstanding the excellence of their training, or body of work since graduation, pre-1992 Central graduates are at a significant professional disadvantage. This is especially so should they wish to teach or undertake further education. And the disadvantage becomes graver as each year passes.
Following the 30th year reunion of our year at the end of 2013 I wrote to the Principal of the school, Professor Gavin Henderson, to canvass his response to the idea of upgrading the Diploma to a Degree. His reply stated the official position arrived at by the school’s Academic Board, but admitted no possibility of discussion since this position is now determined by the School’s incorporation within the University of London, and bound by regulations of the Quality Assurance Agency (a UK Government quango). Interestingly he mentioned that the issue had been raised several times in recent years.
Pre-1992 graduates gave three years of their youth to the school, an accident of timing creates a generational unfairness. Allow me to respectfully ask: is it unreasonable to request a meaningful discussion and opportunity to present the case?
If you support this cause please