A summary of activity so far. Most recent first.

23rd Jan 2014. Following email to Louise and phone message and email to Sue, booked phone conversation with Gavin for Tuesday 29th. 1st Result. Consulted with Maggie Goldthorpe, and Ricky Fallon, both very useful. Good feedback and thoughts from Michael Kingsbury, previous positives from Mark B, Anthony B, Tim W, Mark C, Nick H, Matilda T, Mike B …

22nd Jan 2014. Began drafting a the website www.petitiontoroyalcentral.com

21st Jan 2014. Wrote to Sue (Gavin Henderson’s assistant) after Louise suggested I liaise with her, requesting phone conversation with Gavin. I wonder if he’s even seen my initial letter of 4th December 2013? No word from James Prince. Not expecting one at this point.

18th Jan 2014. Created FB page Petition to Royal Central. Wrote any old Central Alums that I could find on FB (20 – 30). Wrote to Stage 83 Alums those in contact from reunion, asking them to indicate whether they wanted to support this idea and be kept in the loop. Almost all replied yes, but that is only a dozen and 2 or 3 have degrees already and may not feel this issue in quite the same way, and 2 or 3 live overseas, and 2 or 3 did not graduate. Etc … The success of this campaign will depend in part on how much support it gets.

Jan 18th 2014. Wrote to Louise Jones requesting a phone conversation with Prof Henderson. Writing a single letter is obviously a complete waste of time. However, that is the correct protocol and it had to be tried.

Jan 17th 2014. Received what appears to be a form reply from Prof. Henderson in which he stated the official position that Dip Act and BA Acting have no academic equivalency. The letter did not address any of the specific points I raised, nor did it admit any possibility of discussion. There was a postscript with a cordial invitation to a Central gathering in New York in March. Letter to Colin McPhillamy from Gavin Henderson Is that really how the school deals with this? A form letter as though the issue was closed once and for all? Is that how a degree qualification (and Prof. H. also has six honorary ones) enables you to respond to a carefully drafted enquiry?

10th Jan. 2014. Louise replied, directing me to send letter to James Prince head of Academic affairs. Duly forwarded. Aha, so that’s the man to talk to.

8th Jan. 2014. Wrote to Prof Henderson a second time referencing earlier letter cc’d to Louise Jones, Alumni Liaison Officer. I expected a slow reply, but not this slow. Mind you it has ben Christmas and New Year.

4th December 2013. Wrote to Professor Henderson, Principal RCSSD following our 30th year re-union of 30th Nov. Requesting response to idea of upgrading Dip. Act qualification. This is well overdue, although maybe the timing is good, as I feel strongly the need grows stronger as time passes. Letter below:

Dear Professor Henderson,

We met once briefly in New York when I attended a Central gathering in New York where I now live. I recently visited London for the 30th year Stage ’83 re-union held on Saturday 30th November 2013.

Allow me to take the opportunity to compliment you on the school’s outreach work with the alumni in recent years. Special thanks too, to Louise Jones who has done such terrific work liaising with us all, and for hosting us so graciously and making us feel very welcome.

In the years since I was a student at Central, and through successive administrations, the place has undergone several transformations. The physical development and refurbishment is impressive and obviously the school has greatly expanded its teaching scope, as witness the current prospectus.

I want to raise what may be a delicate issue.

In my day the acting training was directed by George Hall. George was an extraordinary teacher, and many of us owe the basis of our professional development to his outstanding abilities.

If there was a shortcoming in the training at that time, it was in the area of preparing students with the necessary business skills in a changing arts landscape. In particular the qualification gained after three intensive years: Diploma in Acting. In today’s UK theatrical training environment (also in the USA, Australia, and China where I have experience) the centre of focus has consistently moved towards greater academic influence, a Dip. Act. is effectively meaningless.

How Central would respond to the idea of retrospectively upgrading the qualification to a B.A.?

Such an inclusive move would, I believe, be beneficial not only to the alumni, but also to the Royal Central School itself. The school proudly lists a selection of its better known graduates on its promotional and marketing materials, and on the steps of its front entrance. The fact that a majority of those so listed are pre-degree is counter-intuitive given the situation outlined above, and that the school obviously currently gains kudos from those many leaders in the profession whom it so proclaims.

I’m writing to you in the first instance to canvass your response. If this enquiry should properly be directed elsewhere among the faculty, please would you kindly direct me to the right person.

I will happily submit a more detailed proposal with supporting considerations, if necessary. I look forward to your reply.

Meanwhile, let me say once again what a pleasure it was to re-visit the school and to see it so obviously thriving.
Kind regards,

Colin McPhillamy

P.S. You will find my name listed in the Stage ’83 register as Collin Johnson. I have since changed my professional name.

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