About the Actors Centre
Established in 1978, The Actors Centre is the UK’s leading professional development organisation, supporting actors throughout their careers. Through an unrivalled programme of diverse workshops and masterclasses — led by distinguished practitioners from the worlds of theatre, film and television — The Actors Centre provides an essential space for actors to network, share and create.
The Actors Centre is also home to the Tristan Bates Theatre, established in 1994 by Sir Alan Bates in memory of his son. As the Centre’s flagship venue, the Tristan Bates Theatre champions new writing and presents a year-round programme of work from emerging and established artists as well as world-renowned theatre companies.
The Actors Centre was established in 1978 by Clive Swift, Sheila Hancock, John Alderton and William Hobs as an essential resource for professional actors. The vision of its founders was to create a space where working actors could network and support each other as well as continue their professional training. The first Actors Centre workshops took place in the same year on Tottenham Court Road — led by renowned actor Sir Ian McKellan. Sir Laurence Olivier, the legendary star of stage and screen, became the Centre’s founding Patron, with notable early members and tutors including Academy Award®-winning actors and filmmakers such as Dame Judi Dench and Danny Boyle.
In 1986, Sir Alex Guinness succeeded Sir Laurence Olivier as patron. Following a number of years in rented premises, in 1994 The Actors Centre found its current home at 1A Tower Street when the building was purchased following an appeal led by Sir Anthony Hopkins.
In the same year in which The Actors Centre secured a permanent address, Sir Alan Bates became the organisation’s newest Patron and established the Tristan Bates Theatre in memory of his late son. The Centre was soon transformed into a bustling creative hub, offering vital continuous actor training alongside curated seasons of professional work from emerging and established companies.
In 2005, the decision was taken to introduce a prerequisite level of training and experience required from each prospective member and the Alan Bates Bursary was also created in memory of Sir Alan Bates. In the ensuing years, the organisation received a number of high-profile, leading actors as Patrons including Dame Julie Walters, Rafe Spall, Joely Richardson and David Harewood, with Indira Varma and Joseph Millson serving as the current Patrons.
In July 2019, The Actors Centre unveiled key changes to its membership structure with the introduction of an Industry Membership in addition to its regular Actor Membership. As the industry moves forward, the organisation sought to reflect its evolving landscape and offer a more inclusive and accessible pathway into the profession for those who previously may not have been able to access the Centre. As The Actors Centre continues to evolve, its founding principles are still very much at the heart of the organisation, which will always remain a salient space for actors to create, learn, develop and perform.