The BADA Story…

In 1982, Tony Branch, former Dean and Co-Founder of the British American Drama Academy, asked me to help him organise the visit of two companies from The National Theatre, London to Santa Fe, where they were to perform productions at the Greer Garson Theatre.   The idea was that they would also teach a group of American Drama students during the day, and then perform in the evening. The whole venture was a great success and we started to think of the possibility of running a summer school in England for drama students.

In 1983 Tony returned to the UK and the British American Drama Academy was founded to enable students from across the world to study classical theatre with leading actors and directors of the British Stage.

We then, after much research, decided to organise a program at Balliol College Oxford.  We negotiated with The Yale School of Drama, who agreed to help with auditioning and also to accredit the program.  

The first BADA Program was held at Balliol College Oxford in July in 1984, with a professional production of The Playboy of the Western World directed by Lindsay Anderson at The Oxford Playhouse, running at the same time as the program. Several of the actors from the production joined the BADA Faculty along with several other well known actors. Peggy Ashcroft our Patron at the time attended our Open Day. Our first eighty students of BADA were happy and achieved a great deal. It was all a tremendous success.

In 1985 we moved into a couple of studios in Regents College where we started running The London Theatre Program in partnership with Sarah Lawrence College, a relationship that exists to this day.

Norman Ayrton who had been at Juilliard, became the Dean of BADA and remained in the post for 11 years. We created an excellent Faculty to teach the core program modules and we were able to persuade leading actors and directors of British Theatre to come and give Master Classes for the BADA Students in London and Oxford.  This is a tradition that remains at the heart of BADA and continues today.

We later moved to Cecil Sharp House, close to Regent’s Park for the next eleven years.  Then, in 1996 Ian Wooldridge became our Dean and we moved the London Theatre Program and BADA offices to our current home in the beautiful building of Gloucester Gate.

Over the years the BADA Programs have grown and developed and we have been really fortunate in having a loyal and gifted faculty and an excellent administration.

I’m always delighted that so many of our Alumni and former members of faculty and associate artists keep in touch and say that BADA is like their extended family.

Carolyn Sands

Co-founder and Associate Director

British American Drama Academy