Richard Burton Company

Production photo from A Month in the Country

The Richard Burton Company is the Royal Welsh College’s own in-house theatre company. It is made up of undergraduate and postgraduate actors, stage managers, theatre designers and musical theatre performers in their final year of training at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. As one of Wales’ most prolific repertory companies, the Richard Burton Company stages fifteen productions each year ranging from classic plays to contemporary drama, new writing and musical theatre.

The college’s undergraduate actors have spent two years developing their skills before joining the Richard Burton Company for a season of public performances in their final year. They are joined by actors from the one-year postgraduate programme. The stage managers and theatre designers will have worked on a number of productions in the first two years, before taking senior production and design roles in their final year while the musical theatre performers will have undergone an intensive year of postgraduate training at the College before staging their own productions. The Richard Burton Company is also fortunate to be able to work with some of the country’s most exciting professional directors.

The College has a reputation within the profession for producing highly skilled, confident and versatile performers and practitioners. In a unique environment which accurately reproduces the practices and conditions of professional theatre, the company provides a perfect platform for emerging artists to hone their skills prior to entering the professional industry. The company has developed a reputation for engaging and captivating productions performed across a range of venues at the College and beyond.

The Richard Burton company features students form the following courses:

  • BA Acting (Year 3)
  • BA Stage Management & Technical Theatre (Year 3)
  • BA Design for Performance (Year 3)
  • MA Acting for Stage Screen & Radio
  • MA Stage & Event Management
  • MA Design for Performance
  • MA Musical Theatre

Many productions also feature musical contributions and compositions from students on the College’s undergraduate and postgraduate music courses.

Richard Burton (1925-1984)

Richard Walter Jenkins was born in Pontrhydyfen near Port Talbot. His prodigious talent and early love of words and literature were nurtured by his teacher and mentor Philip Burton, whose name he later adopted.

After winning a wartime scholarship to study English at Oxford University, he established himself as one of the greatest Shakespearean actors of his day, receiving notable acclaim for his performance in Henry IV at Stratford in 1951, and later for Hamlet, Coriolanus, and Othello at the Old Vic. Although theatre was his first love, he was courted by Hollywood and his debut in My Cousin Rachel (1952) led to the first of seven Academy Award nominations for films including The Robe (1953), The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966).

A very public affair with co-star Elizabeth Taylor attracted unprecedented publicity for 20th Century Fox’s Cleopatra (1961), and their turbulent relationship and jet-set lifestyle set the template for the modern celebrity-obsessed media culture.

Burton’s later work included some notable performances including the film Equus (1976), and a famous narration for Jeff Wayne’s retelling of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (1978).

In 1984, Burton died suddenly at his home in Céligny, Switzerland. He was 58. He was buried in a red suit with a copy of the Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas.

In 2011, Richard Burton’s daughter, the actress Kate Burton, opened the Richard Burton Theatre at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and gave her permission for its resident company of actors to be known as The Richard Burton Company.