King Charles’ telling reaction to family betrayal play he ‘personally chose’ to watch

By Staff

King Charles and Queen Camilla visited the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London today to celebrate its 120th anniversary and while there watched a performance by students and toured its studio

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King Charles and Queen Camilla visit Royal Academy of Dramatic Art

King Charles and Queen Camilla chose to watch a play about family betrayal during a joint outing today.

The couple visited the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) to celebrate its 120th anniversary after the King was announced as patron earlier this month, taking over from his late mother. They spoke with current students about one of the school’s current productions before watching an extract of The House of Ife, performed by third-year acting students in the Gielgud Theatre.

Directed by Beru Tessema, the play is described on the RADA website as a production about one family “forced to confront the traumas they have long tried to bury”. It adds: “As the sun beats down on their North London flat, and the authoritarian head of the family arrives from Ethiopia for the funeral, tensions rise, cultures clash and past betrayals are unearthed.”

The production, which was personally chosen by Their Majesties to watch out of three currently running plays, represents the “modern RADA”, according to the Academy’s president.

Former RADA student and actor David Harewood, now president of the Academy, said the King “really seemed to enjoy” the play, adding: “I saw him giggle at one point. Forty per cent of our student intake now are from black or mixed race backgrounds and that’s again wonderful to see that we’re embracing that and they chose that play.

“They were given the choice of three plays and they chose that play and I think he wants to see what modern RADA is about so I think that gave him what he needed. He wants to see something modern and again to see young black students at RADA being their authentic selves, when I was here it was all RP [received pronunciation] and that was the only way we could talk. So it’s nice to see modern students embracing that authenticity.”

Harewood added: “In the way that he is reframing the monarchy, we’re doing the very same here with RADA – taking what was a very established legacy and trying to project that into the future, giving our modern students a taste of a much more modern industry.”

Misheck Albert Freeman, a third-year student performing in the House of Ife, said the King told him “that he enjoyed it very much and thought that we did well”. Their Majesties were seen giggling at various points in the performance, particularly when Freeman started playing Amazing Grace on a keyboard that suddenly broke.

“Was that supposed to happen?” The monarch asked Freeman after they had performed, to which the 28-year-old responded: “No, but we went along with it!” The King added: “It was fantastic, very amusing I must say.”

Speaking after he met with the King, Freeman said: “The piano wasn’t supposed to fall, but we used it as part of the story. Because we’ve been trained so well here, whatever happens in a scene is meant to happen.”

As part of the visit, Their Majesties also toured around the Scenic Art Studio, where they met with technical theatre arts students and heard about the set design and build process. They met with student Tiffany Yu, 21, who designed the model set for the House of Ife and is completing her Bachelor of technical theatre and stage.

RADA’s association with the royal family has gone back over 100 years, stemming from the royal charter they were granted in 1920.The late Queen was patron of the prestigious acting school from 1952 until her death in 2022. On their arrival, Their Majesties were greeted by RADA’s principal, Niamh Dowling, and chair of the RADA council, Marcus Ryder.

They were accompanied on their tour by Harewood as well as actress, singer and vice president, Cynthia Erivo, who is co-starring alongside Ariana Grande in the new Wicked film.

A group of RADA students and graduates also got the opportunity to meet with the King and Queen in the Burnt Cafe at the Academy before they left. Part of this cohort was actor Daniel Mays, who spoke with Camilla about a recent performance of his in Guys & Dolls that she had gone to watch in the West End in January with her grandchildren.

He said: “She came to see Guys & Dolls towards the end of my run with all of her grandkids. We were only told on the day that there was going to be a really important royal visit…she loved it and they said they had the most incredible night.” Speaking to Mays in the cafe, Camilla told him that it had been ‘fantastic’, adding: “I liked the idea that it was very intimate.” Later, Charles spoke to Mays separately and told him the House of Ife extract they had seen was ‘excellent’.

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