The BADA Story…

In 1984 two remarkable people founded BADA – Tony Branch and Carolyn Sands.

They had already worked together on organising the visit of two companies from The National Theatre, London to Santa Fe, where they were to perform productions at the Greer Garson Theatre, while also teaching a group of American drama students during the day, before performing in the evening. The whole venture was a great artistic success and we started to consider running a summer school in England to enable drama students from across the world to study classical theatre with leading actors and directors of the British stage.

The first Midsummer in Oxford Program was held at Balliol College Oxford in July 1984, after much research.  We negotiated with The Yale School of Drama, who agreed to help with auditioning and also to accredit the Program. A professional production of The Playboy of the Western World directed by Lindsay Anderson was staged at The Oxford Playhouse, alongside the Program. Several cast members joined the BADA Faculty along with other well-known actors. Peggy Ashcroft, our first Patron attended our Open Day. The first eighty students of BADA were happy and achieved a great deal. It was all a tremendous success.

In 1985 we moved into part of Regent’s College where, in 1988, we started running The London Theatre Program in partnership with Sarah Lawrence College.

Norman Ayrton, who had been on the faculty at Juilliard, became the Dean of BADA and remained in the post for 11 years. We created an excellent Faculty to teach the core programme 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 today.

In 1990 we moved to Cecil Sharp House, close to Regent’s Park.  Then, in 1996, Ian Wooldridge became our Dean and in 2001 we moved the London Theatre Program and BADA offices to our current home in the beautiful building at Gloucester Gate.

In August 2016 after 20 years as Dean, including seven as Director, Ian stepped down to resume his career as a theatre director, leaving BADA in excellent shape and ready to face new challenges.

At that point, long-time faculty members Eunice Roberts and Christopher Cook were appointed Acting Joint Deans. In September 2017 Eunice Roberts was appointed Dean, serving until 2023.

The current leadership of BADA consists of Dr Lars Franke, who joined as Managing Director
in 2020, and Ben Naylor, who was appointed Dean in 2023.