Members of an advisory council to Drama Centre London – including actor Helen McCrory and director Nikolai Foster – have resigned en masse, in protest at the decision to suspend recruitment to the school’s acting and directing courses.
All 11 members of the advisory council have resigned, claiming they have “lost confidence” in Central Saint Martins, where the course is based, and its commitment to the “values and craft that make Drama Centre training so distinctive”.
Other members of the council include Lucy Briggs-Owen, Stuart Fox, Natalie Grady, Aaron Harris, Chris Honer, Joseph Millson, Adrian Noble, Rungano Nyoni and Jack Shepherd.
Their decision to resign follows news that the University of the Arts London, of which Drama Centre is a part, has suspended recruitment to both its BA (hons) Acting course and its MA Directing, while UAL conducts a review of actor training at Central St Martins.
Former pupils and staff have warned the review could lead to the end of the drama school in its current form.
In their statement, the advisory council members said the changes “threaten the course’s conservatoire status”.
They praised the acting course as being at the “heart of the Drama Centre courses”, thanks to its “rigorous physical, emotional and intellectual training”.
“The course is highly successful, with a huge number of applications every year, and excellent graduate destinations. Current students signal 100% satisfaction with the tuition, making it the most highly rated course under the whole Central St Martins umbrella,” they said.
In their statement, they added: “We understand that vocational courses need to respond to the changing world, but we cannot see why such major changes need to be made to the curriculum and its delivery that warrant a two-year suspension in recruitment.”
The members also raised concern that the changes have been made “by a new programme leader and a dean of academic programmes who have no experience of training actors”.
“Strained relations clearly exist between the course managers and the Drama Centre students and tutors,” they said, adding: “It also calls into question whether it will still be legitimate for Central St Martins to continue to use the Drama Centre name once the BA Acting course is significantly weakened.”
A spokesman for UAL described the review of actor training at Central Saint Martins as “an open-ended process”.
“We are engaged with external experts and distinguished alumni in framing the course ethos and conservatoire model within the contemporary context, including culture, practice, tradition and resources,” he said.
He added: “UAL urges individual members of the council to find constructive ways to engage with the review, even though the council itself cannot fulfil this responsibility. We regret that we will no longer be able to work with the council in supporting and mentoring the students.”