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RADA Is Coming to the Festival

The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art to Perform Much Ado about Nothing

Image of Much Ado about Nothing Provided by RADA

By Liz Armstrong 

As part of a strategic partnership with the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London is bringing a group of recent graduates’ touring production of Much Ado about Nothing to Festival audiences. This annual touring production has been performed in London and at European arts festivals for years, but this is the first time it will be seen in the United States.

The ninety-minute version of the play will be presented at 9:30 a.m. each day from July 26 to 30 in the Anes Studio Theatre, where audience members will have the opportunity to watch ten graduates from this prestigious London training program perform. The RADA training program boasts a number of exceptional alumni that have seen success as actors, including Alan Rickman, Allison Janney, Anthony Hopkins, Glenda Jackson, Roger Moore, Joan Collins, and Richard Attenborough. And the next RADA “star” just may be on the Festival stage this summer.

Tickets and further information are available by calling the ticket office or visiting bard.org/plays/much-ado-about-nothing/.

“I have long thought that the American approach to Shakespeare—full of gusto and verve—and the British classical elegance are companion acting styles that show why Shakespeare is beloved on both sides of the pond and throughout the English-speaking world,” said Derek Charles Livingston, interim artistic director. “Our RADA guests will provide the Festival audience a chance to witness these beautiful performing contrasts with their morning presentations of Much Ado about Nothing and our afternoon and evening offerings of King LearAll’s Well that Ends Well, and The Tempest.  It is a rare opportunity, and I’m excited for our audiences to be part of it.”

Announced more than two years ago, the partnership between the Festival and RADA is being fully realized after a delay caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The partnership includes a commitment to present the annual RADA play at the Festival and to hire at least one RADA student or graduate in the Festival acting company each season. (This year the Festival hired two: Aidan O’Reilly and Michael Sharon.) The five-year agreement is funded by an anonymous donor.

Frank Mack, Festival executive producer, said the artistic exchange program idea began with a simple discussion of the play Hamlet, which the Festival was producing in 2019. “A friend of the Festival mentioned he had seen an exceptional production of Hamlet at RADA, and so we wanted to talk to them about that,” Mack said. That conversation soon expanded into a strategic partnership between the two theatre companies.

Mack noted that this is an exciting partnership because it gives RADA actors the opportunity to come to the U.S. and possibly build a career here while also giving our audiences the opportunity to see magnificent artists from a European training academy. 

“The opportunity for the Festival to expand its artistic horizons beyond our shows and collaborate with one of the most prestigious training academies in the world provides access for our audience to another dimension of theatre performance that we wouldn’t otherwise see,” Mack concluded.

Niamh Dowling, the principal at RADA, added: “I am delighted that we have this excellent partnership with the Utah Shakespeare Festival. Our Shakespeare for Young Audiences program performs specially adapted Shakespeare plays to children all over London, including on occasion in the garden of Number 10 Downing Street. We are thrilled to be visiting for the first time and to share Much Ado about Nothing with you. Huge and sincere thanks to the Utah Shakespeare Festival for your partnership, support, and friendship.”

© Utah Shakespeare Festival 2023 www.bard.org