Edward Kemp

Director, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art


I got interested in writing first very young and then started writing for theatre at about the age of 14 at school in Worcester. At 15 I joined the National Youth Theatre and at 16 won a prize in the Texaco Playwriting Competition for a play subsequently staged at Chichester Festival Theatre. I studied English at Oxford University, but spent most of my time acting in and directing and writing plays and my vacations acting with the NYT. After graduation I worked first for the NYT as a dramaturg, then for Chichester as an assistant director and then as Resident Director for Anthony Quayle’s Compass Theatre. Around this time I also led two opera education projects for the Royal Opera Education Department which led me into the world of opera libretto writing – I’ve since written over a dozen opera libretti ranging in length from 30 seconds to two hours. After a brief return to Chichester I joined the National Theatre as a staff director and while assisting directors such as Nicholas Hytner, Richard Eyre and Phyllida Lloyd, I continued to write and adapt, forging a partnership with the actor Toby Jones which led to the company The Table Show. I left the National Theatre in 1997 to become a freelance writer and director, in which capacity I have worked for the RSC, BBC Radio, BBC Proms, Young Vic Theatre, Chichester, Complicite, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Manchester International Festival, Really Useful Group, Glyndebourne and National Theatre amongst others. In 2002 I began a collaboration with choreographer Cathy Marston, which has led to over a dozen ballets, in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, Poland and Denmark. Between 2003 and 2005 I was Dramaturg for the Chichester Festival Theatre. I have been Director of RADA since 2008, having previously taught from primary school to adult education levels widely both in the UK and US.