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Episode 160: Interview with Guildhall’s Ken Rea

acting training Jan 05, 2022

About Ken:

Ken Rea is Professor of Theatre at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London and author of the bestseller, The Outstanding Actor, Seven Keys to Success.

He began as a professional actor and director in New Zealand, working with some of the country’s leading theatres and on television as well as running his own company, The Living Theatre Troupe. Later, in the UK, he was artistic director of Jet Theatre and Koru Theatre.

In addition to his work at Guildhall, he has taught in the national drama academies of China, Indonesia, India, Italy, and New Zealand, as well as in Germany, Greece, and Canada. He has also worked as a movement coach with many theatres, including the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

He has been a regular feature writer for The Times and was for 15 years a theatre critic for The Guardian. His book, A Better Direction, examines the issues of director-training. His plays produced in Britain include The Brave Magicians of Mangalore and Voyagers. His adaptations performed in London include the Swedish classic Pippi Longstocking and the Italian Renaissance comedy, The Deceived. In the corporate world, Ken trains business leaders of global companies.

Excerpt from The Outstanding Actor: Seven Keys to Success:

“The conditions I’ve described are mostly outside of your control, and you may beg thinking, well I didn’t have a troubled childhood, and I didn’t have pushy mother, and I didn’t go to Eaton, so all the cards are stacked against me. What’s the point?

But those factors are not exclusive; they just show how some people seized the opportunity of an early advantage and went on through effort to prosper. The focus of this book is about what you can do now to make a difference.

And in the spirit of the growth mindset, there is a lot you can do. This book is about how you make the best of what you have: your talent, your physicality, and your personality.

Because in the acting profession, there is always hope, and there is always room for one more outstanding actor. So let’s get started.”

“To keep our faces towards change, and behave like a free spirit in the presence of fate, is strength undefeatable.” Helen Keller

Be comfortable with risk.

Risk— trying something that might not work to lead you to a solution to a better one.

Heart of adventure and risk, and going in for it rather than running away.

“Make it about them, not about you.”

Forget about yourself and think about the audience.

Focus on the work and getting better.

Effort trumps Talent

Mastery is ten years of deliberate practice.

Real success is being open to change.

Enthusiasm is essential because it’s contagious.

We love to be surprised as an audience.

If you follow these practices, it can help you step up to the next level.

You need that sparkle.

7 Keys to Success:

  1. Warmth
  2. Generosity of Spirit
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Grit
  5. Danger
  6. Presence
  7. Charisma

Moment to moment — the more I was in the moment in my life, the easier it was to be present in my work.

How can I be more present?