Rose Bruford College

Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance
Type Drama school
Established 1950
President Sir Richard Eyre
Principal Michael Earley
Students 790 (2014/15)[1]
Undergraduates 730 (2014/15)[1]
Postgraduates 60 (2014/15)[1]
Location London, England
United Kingdom
Campus Urban
Affiliations Drama UK

Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance (formerly the Rose Bruford Training College of Speech and Drama) is a British drama school, offering university-level and professional vocational training for theatre and performance providing BA and MA degrees. Rose Bruford College is the first Drama College in the UK to be awarded the Drama UK accreditation as well as "one of the largest, most comprehensive providers of vocational degrees in theatre and related arts in Western Europe."[2] The degree courses offered include those in performance such as Acting, Actor Musicianship, and European and American Theatre Arts, as well as in other practices and technologies of theatre, such as Costume Production, Lighting Design, Creative Lighting Control, Performance Sound, Scenic Arts, Theatre Design and Stage Management.[3]

The campus is located in a Grade II listed historic house and an estate about 25 minutes away by train from the West End in Sidcup, Southeast London.

Director Sir Richard Eyre became the first President of Rose Bruford College in July 2010, while Professor Michael Earley, formerly of Yale University, is the Principal and Chief Executive


Rose Bruford College was established in 1950 by teacher Rose Elizabeth Bruford with the help of Poet Laureate John Masefield, Laurence Olivier and Peggy Ashcroft who formed part of the Board of Governors. Rose Bruford "pioneered the first acting degree in 1976."[4]

Rose Bruford

Rose Elizabeth Bruford was born on 22 June 1904. She remembers herself as a child always acting, often directed by her brother Lionel. She was educated at Kilburn High School, and later at Bath High School where on one occasion a verse recital was given by Elsie Fogerty, the founder and Principal of the Central School of Speech and Drama, then situated at the Royal Albert Hall. Having decided that she wanted to pursue a career in drama Bruford resolved to go to the Central School and although the early months were not particularly happy she grew to love Elsie Fogerty, who she claimed was "undoubtedly a genius" and a profound influence on Bruford during her formative years.

While still a student, Bruford took part in the Oxford Recitations of Spoken Verse, begun in 1923 by John Masefield. Here she became acquainted with the poets W. H. Auden, Gordon Bottomley, Richard Church, Walter de la Mare, T. S. Eliot, Christopher Hassall, John Drinkwater, and W. B. Yeats who encouraged her to speak some of his poems to a small harp, a featured highlight of her recitals in years to come. In 1928 she walked off with top honours for her verse speaking and John Masefield was to be her champion and guide for the rest of her life.

After graduating from the Central School, Bruford followed her parents' wishes never to work in the theatre and instead became a visiting teacher of Speech and Drama. Between 1925 and 1949 she taught regularly at 43 different schools, but in 1941 she was appointed to the staff of the Royal Academy of Music where, starting with seven students, she built the Drama course to seventy students and was recognized by the Ministry of Education as a qualified teacher-training programme. While spending three days at the Royal Academy of Music she spent the other two days at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, where she taught mime to all the students.

In 1948 her first book, Speech and Drama, was published and became a best-seller. But she wanted better conditions and bigger premises for her course at the Royal Academy of Music. The new Principal was adamant: "Miss Bruford, I cannot accept any more of your new ideas". Bruford responded to friends, "I can't go on with this new Principal. I can't stand it. I must have my own school." The next day Bruford handed in her notice. It seemed that no-one had ever resigned before from the Royal Academy of Music, but after her fourth attempt it was accepted. She gave up a well- paid position and a pension, and although she had only £600 to her name she began preparations for her own school. She eventually found the ideal premises. The Kent Education Committee offered her the use of the mansion in Lamorbey Park and the Rose Bruford Training College for Speech and Drama had a home for the rent of £5 a year. Surrounded by a staff of quality and dedication the College established a unique training programme where students took a dual course as actors and teachers. Bruford worked herself for some years without pay but gradually the course developed becoming grant aided and recognized for qualified teacher status. Her repeated advice when training actors was: "Think, move, speak."


According to a 2014 article in The Stage, Rose Bruford has the highest proportion of students from state schools, 91.6%, of all UK drama schools. [5]

In 2015 the college will be opening a new halls of residence in Sidcup as part of the Christopher House development. The college is also in the process of developing the old Lamorbey Baths site.

In 2014, Rose Bruford College beat every other UK drama school by scoring an overall satisfaction level of 90% by students in the National Student Survey.[6]

In 2013, Rose Bruford College was voted the best university-level drama institution for overall satisfaction, according to the National Student Survey. The college scored 87% for overall student satisfaction in the Survey, which compares student happiness across higher and further education institution courses. The average score this year across all participating institutions was 85%. Rose Bruford College has seen its scores steadily increase over the past few years, from 79% in 2011’s survey and 86% in 2012. Principal Michael Earley said: "I think the results have improved over the past few years largely because Rose Bruford, like a lot of conservatoires, takes more seriously its role as a specialist university. "For many years, places like Rose Bruford, RADA and Guildhall have sold themselves as drama schools only. Now, with students paying full fees of £9,000, they really have to look at themselves as universities." He said this involved improving facilities and providing more academic teaching alongside vocational training, such as essay writing and critical thinking. This article appeared on the front page of The Stage publication on 15 August 2013.

Also in 2013, the drama school's profile was raised by several graduates who achieved fame in the United States, including Lake Bell and Sam Palladio as well as by Evening Standard Theatre Awards for both Richard Eyre as Best Director for his production of Ghosts at the Almeida Theatre and Rosalie Craig for Best Musical Performance for The Light Princess at the National Theatre. Rosalie Craig has gone on to star in City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse directed by Josie Rourke.[7]

Rose Bruford alumni featured prominently at the 2015 Laurence Olivier Awards held at the Royal Opera House. 2011 graduates Dave Hearn (BA (Hons) Acting) and Rob Falconer (BA (Hons) Actor Musicianship) won Best Comedy for The Play That Goes Wrong, which is currently on an extended run at the Duchess Theatre. 2001 BA (Hons) Actor Musicianship graduate Rosalie Craig was the star of City of Angels, which won the award for Best Musical Revival. Also, 2003 BA (Hons) Actor Musician graduate Katie Brayben won Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Carole King in the critically acclaimed Beautiful at the Aldwych Theatre.


Joining vocational training programmes across disciplines, Rose Bruford College enables students of different professions in the performing arts to collaborate throughout their training. Students stage theatre productions in the four on-campus theatre performance spaces: the 300-seat theatre in the round Rose Theatre, the intimate Barn Theatre or the two black box studio spaces. Third year undergraduate students present their shows in London venues ranging from the Unicorn Theatre to the Leicester Square Theatre..

The college enjoys various international contacts with drama schools in both Europe and North America. It matriculates a substantial number of international students and places its students in high-ranking drama training institutions outside the United Kingdom.

Rose Bruford College is a member of Drama UK and all of its vocational courses are accredited by Drama UK.[8][9] The College's undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications and programmes are validated by the University of Manchester.[2][4][10]

Research and community outreach

The College's research facilities and archives include: the Stanislavski Centre; the Clive Barker Library;[11] and the David Bolland Collection, which is devoted to material about Kathakali. Members or former members of its faculty serve as editors and/or on the editorial boards of performing-arts journals like New Theatre Quarterly (Simon Trussler, co-editor) and Performance Prompt.[12]

In partnership with the London V&A Theatre Collections Online, the College also sponsors and supports the web-based UK theatre audio-discussion site TheatreVoice.

Its material relating to research, knowledge transfer, and community outreach is featured online in TheatreFutures.[13]

Rose Bruford College is not the only theatrical college to be based in Sidcup. Bird College, which specialises in dance and musical theatre, is also based in the town.

Lamorbey House

The college was founded in 1950 in an 18th-century Heritage-listed manor house Lamorbey House in Sidcup in the Greater London area by actress, drama tutor and author Rose Bruford.[14][15] The current campus encompasses both the manor house and a modern set of buildings completed in 2002.[14] For some time, there was also a campus situated in Deptford, near Greenwich in South East London, which was closed when the college incorporated all of its courses on the Sidcup campus.

Rose Bruford College serves as the setting for fictional drama school Salinger College in the 2007 TV drama series Nearly Famous.

Degree programmes and courses

The college currently offers courses in the following fields of performing arts training:

Online learning
Research degrees (validated by Goldsmiths, University of London)
Part-time, summer and youth programmes

Notable alumni

Michael Earley

Principal and Chief Executive, Professor Michael Earley, was formerly Chief Producer of Plays for BBC Radio Drama and has headed theatre programmes at the University of Lincoln (UK) and Yale University (US). His career in America and the UK has encompassed academic and conservatoire training alongside work in professional theatre, broadcasting and publishing. Earley has said:

"I am excited about returning to London to lead Rose Bruford College, an institution I have always thought to be among the best of its kind in the world. I look forward to working closely with the talents of its board, staff and students and leading Rose Bruford College into a new era that combines the best in undergraduate and post-graduate higher education with the specialisms of theatre and drama."

Earley came to Rose Bruford College from the University of Lincoln where he has been Professor of Drama, Head of the recently formed Lincoln School of Performing Arts and Producing Director of the new £6 million Lincoln Performing Arts Centre. He was previously Publishing Director of Methuen Drama Publishing and before that Chief Producer of Plays for BBC Radio Drama. At Methuen he published such authors as Peter Brook, Arthur Miller, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Patrick Marber, Anthony Minghella, Caryl Churchill, Edward Bond, Patsy Rodenburg, among many others. At the BBC he produced and directed more than fifty plays and programmes for Radio 3 and Radio 4. Living and working in Britain since 1990,Earley began his career in the United States as Director of the Lila Acheson Wallace Playwriting Program in the Drama Faculty at the Juilliard School. In 1981 he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University and in 1982 was appointed Chairman of the Theatre Studies Program and Assistant Professor of English Literature at Yale University. In 1985 he was appointed Executive Director of the American Center in London and between 1987 and 1989 he was Series Editor of Applause Theatre Books. He also worked as a theatre critic, dramaturge and stage director in New York City. He is currently writing a critical biography of the British theatrical innovator Edward Gordon Craig. He writes theatre articles for the Financial Times.


  1. 1 2 3 "2014/15 Students by HE provider, level, mode and domicile" (XLSX). Higher Education Statistics Agency. Retrieved 19 January 2016.
  2. 1 2 CDS. "Rose Bruford College". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  3. "Rose Bruford College Official Website". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  4. 1 2 "Rose Bruford College". Education:News. London: The Guardian. 2008-05-01. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  5. "Drama Schools Rubbish Elitist Claims", The Stage
  6. "Student Satisfaction up at Drama Schools", The Stage. Retrieved 2014-14-08
  7. Lyn Gardner, "Rosalie Craig: gravity-defying star with the world’s stage at her feet", The Guardian, 20 November 2014.
  8. CDS. "The Conference of Drama Schools". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  9. CDS. "CDS Directors". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  10. Rose Bruford College. "Courses". Retrieved 2008-05-02. Our undergraduate and post-graduate programmes are validated by the University of Manchester (the Foundation Degree in Organising Live Arts is validated by London Metropolitan University) and, where appropriate, courses are accredited by the National Council of Drama Training (sic) (NCDT).
  11. "The Clive Barker Library Naming Event". College News: News & Press Releases. 2005-11-09. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  12. "New Theatre Quarterly". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  13. "Theatre Futures: Part of Rose Bruford College". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  14. 1 2 "About the College: College History". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  15. "Quality Assessment Report by the HEFCE". Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  16. Porter, Cedric (19 November 2004). "Michele fits The Bill ...". Uxbridge Gazette. United Kingdom. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  17. "Michele Austin : The British Blacklist". The British Blacklist. Retrieved 13 November 2016.

External links

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