For many boys at Radley theatre plays a significant role in their time here, as there are many opportunities for them to perform in plays, work backstage and/or take Theatre Studies, which is offered at both GCSE and A Level as an academic subject.
The Radley College Theatre, which opened in 2005, is a venue much admired in the theatre world. The theatre is extremely well supplied with technical equipment and backstage facilities. In addition to the theatre there is a Black-Box Studio, used for smaller productions, classes and examination performances.
There is a full complement of staff for Drama, who all have a professional theatre background, consisting of the Director of Drama (Victoria Buse), The Head of Theatre Studies (David Edwards), his Assistant (George May), a full time Technician (Matt Barker) and Wardrobe Supervisor (Lianne Oakley-Rowland) and part-time assistant (Jon Goodall). Although members of staff direct and oversee the plays, pupils take full responsibility for the running of shows once in performance, taking on the roles of stage management, lighting and sound operation.
Major productions each year include: the College Play in November, which might be anything from a classic text to a modern musical; the 6.1 Play; the Remove Play, and the Shell Play. In addition to this some of the Socials put together a play, and there are pupil directed performances, exam performances and Dons’ productions. Opportunities occasionally arise for theatre tours: in the past productions have visited the Edinburgh Festival and have been entered for the Shell Connections Festival.
Recent productions include: Richard II, Henry IV part 1, Henry V (The Henriad to celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare in 2016), The Producers, Under Milk Wood, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The International Inspector, Journey's End, Twelve Angry Men, Oliver!, The Laramie Project, Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, Treasure Island, Arcadia, The Madness of King George, The History Boys, L'Hotel de Paris (a Noel Coward compilation), Les Miserables, Richard III, Billy Budd, Julius Caesar, West Side Story and the Royal Hunt of the Sun.
All boys in the Shells take part in the Haddon Cup, an inter-Social competition, in which each Social produces a ten minute play. This is adjudicated by a visiting theatre professional and is a keenly fought event. The Haddon Cup takes place in early October, which means the Shells are thrown into preparing for this in their first few weeks at Radley, promoting a good team spirit.
There are also many theatre trips organised by the Drama and English Departments throughout the year to such venues as the National Theatre, the Globe, the RSC and a wide variety of local theatres.