I went along to the unveiling of LAMDA’S new building and had a chat with Joanna Read and Rory Kinnear

LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art) has raised the curtain on the incredible £28.2 million redevelopment of its west London home. Rather wonderfully the building also comprises 10 rehearsal studios, a fully-equipped digital screen and audio suite, backstage facilities, and offices for LAMDA Examinations (taken annually by more than 100,000 young people in over 30 countries). Bloody hell.

LAMDA’s redevelopment was made possible thanks to the generous supporters of its Act Now! Campaign. Launched at the National Theatre in November 2013 with alumnus Benedict Cumberbatch CBE as Patron and former Cabinet Minister, Rt. Hon. Shaun Woodward as Chair, it is the most ambitious and successful fundraising campaign in LAMDA’s history.

Act Now! Patron and LAMDA graduate, Benedict Cumberbatch CBE said: “This new building is more than just bricks and mortar; it is a testament to our collective belief in the vitality of LAMDA.”

LAMDA Chairman and Chair of the Act Now! campaign, Shaun Woodward said: “This has been an amazing four years raising huge amounts of money and building a new future for the Academy. Our donors’ generosity has been stunning. And we’ve had incredible support from so many people inspired by the international reputation of LAMDA’s training. It’s just been a great success story!” 

LAMDA Principal Joanna Read said: “The United Kingdom leads the way in conservatoire training, and LAMDA is the trailblazer; an innovator that sets the standards others follow. The industry is stronger for the individuals LAMDA trains; the art form richer for the work our graduates go on to create. Our new facilities will ensure that our students and practitioners continue to shape the future of the dramatic arts.”

I had a chat with the conservatoire Principle Joanna Read and actor Rory Kinnear at the press conference in their lovely new Sainsbury Theatre and, to their credit, they seemed like they enjoyed chatting to me about a) the new building and b) some other things. It’s fair to say they know what they are doing on the theatre front and if you’re in the market for a quick chat about LAMDA, snag lists and Brexit, then today is your lucky day.

How the snag list is looking? “Well, it’s looking extensive as you’d expect for a project of this size. For example, some furniture hasn’t turned up and some doors are on the wrong way up,” Read says. “The donor signage and the carpet are still due to come in ahead of our Gala next week. But It’s been remarkably smooth.”

Earlier this week Nicholas Hytner wrote a thing for the Guardian about the importance of investment in arts and culture post-Brexit. I ask is it business as usual for LAMDA? “We are an international drama school and we stand with Europe,” she says proudly. “It’s ridiculous; one of the strengths of this organisations are that we are such a mix of people from all different experience and that benefits the art form. It’s absolutely business as usual,” she adds.

LAMDA has a remarkable roster of award-winning graduates and one of them is actor Rory Kinnear. How does he feel that the building is now ready and complete? “Facilities are important. We believe in ourselves and we want to attract the best students and we want to attract the best staff,” he explains. “We’ve been talking about if for a long time and you know what there’s going to be but. It feels in the right spirit of how I remember LAMDA when I was here – which was a long time ago – and a totally different building. It’s spick and span and new but there’s something utilitarian to that – which makes you remember – that the building isn’t always the most important thing; it’s what’s happening inside of it that counts.”

It was recently announced that Kinnear will feature star in Richard Bean and Clive Coleman’s new play about German philosopher Karl Heinrich Marx Young Marx in the first season at The Bridge. I ask how preparations are going. “We’ve done a poster! That’s a fun thing because that’s another new theatre. I went around the site, as it were, about two years ago and visited again last month to see how that’s all been developing”, he smiles.

“To have a foot in two new exceptional theatres in London is very exciting.”

There we have it.

For more information please visit: https://www.lamda.org.uk/