On Monday 9 December, Central hosted its annual Graduation Ceremony at The Royal Festival Hall.
497 graduates across undergraduate, postgraduate and research courses donned caps and gowns and crossed the stage of the Royal Festival Hall to receive their Central awards in front of their family and friends, as the School also awarded Honorary Fellowships to Riz Ahmed, Ola Animashawun, Cecilia Noble and Finn Ross.
Awarded on the day were:
Central also presented 4 new Doctors of Philosophy awards to Deirdre Eileen McLaughlin, Ilya Jack Pearlman, Alejandro Postigo Gomez and Joanna Josephine Ronan.
The 2019 Graduating class are embarking upon their careers and are already achieving amazing things. From work with industry leading venues and artists, to setting up their own companies and creating their own work; whether they are utilising the power of theatre to improve lives in communities at home and abroad, teaching in Schools or embarking on to further study, these new Central graduates will go on to shape the future of our art forms.
Of their time at Central, graduates said:
“Central for me is a creative hub full of talent, acceptance of who you are, and people constantly challenging themselves. Every member of staff is a master of their field and a pleasure to work with.” – George Bury, BA (HONS) Acting Musical Theatre Graduate
“Central means opportunities, love, ideas, warmth and creativity.” – Khai Ramli, MA Creative Producing Graduate
Alongside welcoming a class of new graduates, the School was delighted to award Honorary Fellowships to Riz Ahmed, Ola Animashawun, Cecilia Noble and Finn Ross.
Alumnus Riz Ahmed is a critically acclaimed actor, musician, writer, producer and activist. He became one of Hollywood’s most sought after artists following the explosive success of HBO’s The Night Of, written and created by the legendary Steven Zaillan, for which he won an
Emmy Award, and was Golden Globe and SAG nominated. He has starred in feature films including Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Jacques Audiard’s The Sisters Brothers, Sony/Marvel’s Venom, as well as indie hits such as Nightcrawler and Chris Morris’ cult classic Four Lions. Up next, he stars in director Darius Marder’s Sound Of Metal about a professional drummer’s descent into unexpected hearing loss.
As a music artist, Ahmed came up as a rap battle champion, going on to write and perform both as a solo artist and with Swet Shop Boys. His provocative debut release Post 9/11 Blues was banned from public radio before a viral groundswell forced it on, and his mixtape Englistan was praised for its provocative exploration of identity. The Swet Shop Boys debut album Cashmere was hailed as a landmark release for its articulation of the South Asian diasporic experience, leading to international tours, a Coachella performance, and protestors against Trump’s Muslim ban chanting their songs outside American airports.
As a vocal advocate for inclusion, Ahmed’s award-winning piece in the Nikesh Shuklaedited collection of essays The Good Immigrant, has been dubbed ‘essential reading’. In Spring 2017, he was guest speaker at the British Parliament’s House of Commons where he spoke about diversity and representation. That same year, he was on the cover of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People.
“I’m grateful and honoured to be receiving this honorary fellowship. My time at Central was deeply impactful, and provided me with the creative tools and personal confidence I needed to pursue a career as an actor. The inclusivity of our drama schools is key to ensuring culture that represents us all, and I welcome this recognition in so far as it sends a message that a career in the arts is open to anyone who has the passion to pursue it. ” - Riz Ahmed
Ola Animashawun is the National Theatre Connections Dramaturg and the Co-Founder and Creative Director of the playwriting consultancy, Euphoric Ink. He is also a former Associate Director of the Royal Court Theatre, where he worked for 23 years, during which time he founded and ran the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme, and set up a nationwide writers’ programme dedicated to finding and nurturing new African, Caribbean, Asian and other ethnic minority playwrights – Critical Mass.
Ola has worked in theatre for over 30 years, with 20 of those years dedicated to specialising in script development as a dramaturg and facilitator. He is an Associate Artist, Dramaturg and Mentor for Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Theatre Absolute, Shop Front Theatre, Eclipse Theatre and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. He is also a patron of Graeae Theatre and Script Yorkshire.
“I am humbled to be joining the ranks of an esteemed cohort of individuals and honoured to be invited to add the title Fellow to my name. For me, this title serves as a timely reminder to uphold and promote the universal virtues of a collective progress through imagination, creativity, passion, courage and play, with ever more urgency, conviction and energy.” ” – Ola Animashawun
Alumna Cecilia Noble was born in Hackney. Despite being discouraged by both her parents – who wanted her to pursue a ‘proper profession’ – and her school, she was determined to become an actress, and gained a place to study at Central. After graduating, she played Miranda in The Tempest in an around-the-world tour with Cheek by Jowl and has since gone on to work with a series of leading directors and companies, including the Royal Shakespeare Company and Steppenwolf.
Cecilia has appeared in, for the National Theatre, Faith, Hope And Charity, Downstate, Nine Night, The Amen Corner, His Dark Materials, Henry V and The Recruiting Officer; and for the RSC The Comedy Of Errors and Twelfth Night. On television, she has appeared in Black Mirror, Call The Midwife, Our Girl, Silent Witness, Death In Paradise, Waking The Dead, EastEnders and Holby City. For film, she has been in Dead In A Week (Or Your Money Back), The Lady In The Van and Mrs Caldicott’s Cabbage War.
Cecilia has won numerous awards and was recently described as one of the country’s strongest stage actors in a review of her performances in Downstate and Faith, Hope And Charity for which she was nominated as Best Actress in the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. It is her hope to inspire others who may not fit the mould of what an actor is to follow their dreams.
“I don’t think I would have had the career that I am enjoying without training at Central. It was a place that I felt free to explore and use my imagination to the fullest. My art came first, not the colour of my skin.” – Cecilia Noble
Alumnus Finn Ross Finn Ross trained at Central and designs video for live performance. He has won two Olivier awards, a Tony and three Drama Desk awards. His recent work includes, for theatre Les Miserables, Sweet Charity, A Very, Very, Very Dark Matter, Frozen, Mean Girls, Bat Out Of Hell, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child, Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, Dusty, Jagged Little Pill, In The Body Of The World & The Crossing, American Psycho, Betrayal, Chimerica, Closer, The Tempest, Master And Margarita, All My Sons and Shun-kin.
In opera, Finn has worked on The Rise And Fall Of The City Of Mahagonny, Missa Solemnis, Benvenuto Cellini, Death Of Klinghoffer, Death In Venice, Onegin, Simon Boccanegra, Damnation Of Faust, Don Giovanni, Hänsel und Gretel, Zäuberflote, A Dog’s Heart, La clemenza di Tito, Mr Brouček, Les Pêcheurs de Perles, Béatrice et Bénédict, Turn Of The Screw and Rinaldo.
In dance, Finn’s work includes Anna Karenina, The Nutcracker, Le Petit Prince, Frankenstein and The Feeling of Going.
“It is a humbling experience to receive this Honorary Fellowship from Central. Walking up the steps at Eton Avenue over 20 years ago for my interview, I could never have imagined the things Central’s teaching would make possible for me to do out in the wider world of theatre and entertainment. I am very grateful for this honour and hope it can inspire others in the world of video design.” – Finn Ross
The Honorands join with Central in congratulating the newly graduated Class of 2019 and in wishing them success in their future careers. Wherever their future takes them after graduation, they will always remain an important part of the Central network, and Central is committed to ensuring that graduate's links with the School do not end at graduation, but are carried throughout their lives.
For more information on the support and benefits available to Central alumni, please visit the Alumni Association page.
I don’t think I would have had the career that I am enjoying without training at Central. It was a place that I felt free to explore and use my imagination to the fullest.