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The main entrance to LAMDA
The main entrance to LAMDA

The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) is a drama school located in Hammersmith, London. It is the oldest drama school in the UK. It is a member of the Federation of Drama Schools.[1]

It was announced on 16 January 2018 that Benedict Cumberbatch has succeeded Timothy West as LAMDA's President.[2] LAMDA's Principal is Joanna Read (who succeeded Peter James in 2010).[3] In recent years, over 98% of LAMDA's stage management and technical theatre graduates have found work in their chosen field within weeks of graduation and the Academy's graduates work regularly at the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare's Globe, London's West End and Hollywood as well as on the BBC, HBO and Broadway. It is registered as a company under the name LAMDA Ltd[4] and as a charity under its trading name London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[5] There is an associate organisation in America under the name LAMDA in America, Inc., previously known as The American Friends of LAMDA.[6]

LAMDA examinations in the fields of speech, drama, communication and performance taken by external students are recognised by Ofqual, the regulator in England and its counterparts in Wales and Northern Ireland. LAMDA accredited examinations at Level 3 or above are recognised within the UCAS Tariff system.

As an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, LAMDA receives funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This means that eligible UK/EU students are able to access loans to assist with their tuition fees and maintenance costs. In addition, LAMDA and the Conservatoire have a range of scholarships and bursaries available.


The London Academy of Music was founded by Henry Wylde in 1861;[7] this makes the Academy the oldest of its kind in Britain. Providing training for, and examinations in, various musical disciplines was originally the dominant purpose of the institution. However, providing instruction in spoken English quickly became a core area of the Academy’s work.

In the 1880s, LAMDA began offering speech examinations to the public. Since then, these examinations have been refined and developed into a comprehensive system of performance evaluation. LAMDA Examinations has emerged as the largest Speech and Drama Board in the United Kingdom.

In 1904, the school was amalgamated with two other London music institutions that had sprung up since the academy was founded, namely the London Music School (founded 1865) and the Forest Gate School of Music (founded 1885) renamed in 1906 the Metropolitan Academy of Music. (The Metropolitan Academy of Music severed its links with the London Academy of Music in 1907.[8]) In due course the Hampstead Academy was also amalgamated. The name was changed to the current name in 1935, under the direction of Wilfrid Foulis. In 1939, it was moved from London due to the war; when it reopened in 1945, it no longer provided musical training.[7]

A move to the Talgarth Road in West London has enabled LAMDA to develop the campus and training facilities for its students. The site was previously home to the Royal Ballet School, which moved to new, purpose-built facilities adjacent to the Royal Opera House. The Academy became an affiliate of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama in 2004.


LAMDA regularly presents productions at the Lyric Hammersmith, Riverside Studios and the Linbury Studio Theatre.

Boards and Honorary Fellows

  • President: Benedict Cumberbatch CBE
  • Vice-President: Dame Janet Suzman DBE
  • Chairman: Shaun Woodward
  • Other Board members: Matt Applewhite, Olga Basirov, Hugh Bullock, James Cane, Philip Carne, Mark Cornell, Kevin Fitzmaurice, Paul Gismondi, Anthony Gordon Lennox, Sarah Habberfield, Patricia Hodge, Richard Johnston, Robert Noble, Timothy Oakley, Sir Peter Scott.
  • Norman Ayrton
  • Eileen Collins LLAM (Hons)
  • Colin Cook FRSA
  • Zoë Dominic OBE
  • The Rev. Michael Forrest
  • Brian Tilston LLAM (Hons) FLAM

Notable alumni

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