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Acting coach Richard Delaney: ‘Engage with failure and take bigger risks’

On May 12th, 2020, The Stage newspaper published an article featuring a conversation between Richard Delaney and John Byrne. The article can be accessed through this link.

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Engage with failure: Actor and actor trainer Richard Delaney gives his advice to those preparing for a career on the stage

12th May 2020

A Stack of Wooden Bricks That Have Collapsed

How did you start off in theatre? It all felt like a very natural progression: I was always involved in a lot of youth theatre, then went on to attend the National Youth Theatre, before Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

What instigated the move into coaching? It was a fascination with craft and process. I cannot deny that there was a political motivation too; to shake up the system a little.

What is the best piece of advice you have for students and graduates today? Do something every day to remind yourself you are an actor. Spending a little time each day, particularly in periods of ‘unemployment’, will stand you in good stead.

What would you change about the industry if you could? I would like everyone to engage more earnestly with the notion of failure and consequently take bigger risks. ‘Risk’ feels like such a dirty word at times, but it can present such wonderful possibilities.

What is the best part of your job? I love it when students begin to own their own process – when they start to look inside of themselves for answers it is incredibly exciting.

And your least favourite? Encountering students with no curiosity – whether that is about the world around them, themselves or process. I would encourage all actors in training to remain curious and to get mad about something!

Who are the practitioners you admire most/who should students be looking up to? I always think it is a little dangerous to look up to anyone per se; it implies that there is a ‘correct’ or ‘interesting’ way. I would encourage students to stay curious and interested. I frequently find fringe more creatively engaging than more mainstream, commercial theatre.

What is the one skill that every successful theatre professional should have? The ability to play, and to dance with failure.

Any tips readers could put into practice to increase their mental/physical well-being? Do not feel the pressure to do what everyone else is doing. Always find what feels right for you, and as soon as it no longer feels satisfying, do something else.

Richard Delaney has a private coaching practice and has freelanced at a number of institutions. He was talking to John Byrne.

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