The Outstanding Actor: Seven Keys To Success published with foreword by Lily James


“Ken’s lessons were like a treasure chest full of knowledge, provocations, and challenges to be met. Throughout this wonderful book we have been given the map to the treasure and the keys to what lies within.” – Lily James

Ken Rea’s bestselling book The Outstanding Actor: Seven Keys to Success is published in a new edition by Methuen Drama. This second edition incorporates up to date interviews with actors and creatives, a foreword by former student Lily James, and for the first time, Rea shares some of his key techniques with HD video recordings.

“Ken’s classes were easily my favourite while I was training. When we think of our favourite actors, we are drawn to danger, risk, charisma, spontaneity, charm…Ken is a master at drawing these qualities out of you as a student and teaching you to own them. He’s brilliant.” – Paapa Essiedu

Drawing on Ken Rea’s 40 years’ teaching experience and research, as well as interviews with top actors and directors, The Outstanding Actor identifies seven key qualities that the most successful actors manifest, along with practical exercises that help nurture those qualities.

“… you can be hugely talented and brilliantly trained, and yet still not have a good career. The key is simple: you must be proactive rather than reactive. You can’t afford to drift through your career waiting for opportunities to come, because the odds are, they won’t. By being proactive you can make a difference.” Extract from The Outstanding Actor

In addition to new contributions and insights from former students Orlando Bloom, Paapa Essiedu, Lily James, Lesley Sharp, Jodie Whittaker, Daniel Craig and many more, the second edition is revised to reflect the impact of developments across society and the industry, including the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements. Using the latest technology, the edition also features HD video recordings of over 20 of the exercises described in the book, giving readers an insight into Rea’s masterclasses and the chance to see exactly how the exercises work and are developed during a session.

The Outstanding Actor gives techniques that actors can immediately put into practice in rehearsals, classes or private preparation, to consciously develop the qualities needed to step up to the next level of success. Rea has also used the techniques to train thousands of senior executives throughout Europe to develop their presence and charisma.

Ken Rea said today, “There’s never been a more crucial time for actors to develop their skills. The Covid crisis won’t last forever, and when the theatres do re-open, opportunities will come very quickly. This means that actors need to be match-fit now, so they’re ready to go. As I show in the book, this is not just about being physically ready; it’s also about having that winning mindset that will get you the job in the first place, that makes a director say, “Yes, this is the kind of energy I want in my cast!”

Ken Rea is Professor of Theatre at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London. 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.

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