Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) Performing Arts lecturer Rob Alexander has shared his top tips for aspiring actors in The Stage.

Rob featured on the renowned publication’s website that covers all aspects of theatre, drama and entertainment news, features, reviews from across the country on 9 June.

In the article, he shares how he started in acting, what prompted him to move into teaching, his advice for drama students and what he would change about the industry.

Rob said: “The Stage contacted me through Twitter asking if I’d be happy to discuss the provision of the creative arts in further education and how it fits into the jigsaw that is the economy, as part of a series of weekly guest articles in arts training articles they were running.”

Rob, who will be leaving WestKing this summer after nearly two decades at the college, recently wrote and performed his latest one-man show Keeper of the Flame, which premiered at the Young Actors Theatre in Islington and will be performed during Camden Fringe this August.

His acting career includes film and TV roles in The Fifth Element, The Chief, and Devices and Desires, while his stage work includes The Caretaker, Sunset Ship and Alice in Wonderland.

Rob said: “It’s been a pleasure working at WestKing with some wonderfully creative and hugely talented students over the years, many of whom are now friends, including one who is directing my new show!”

Read the article: Course Leader Rob Alexander: ‘The creative arts enrich, embolden and enthuse all our lives. Promote it, don’t demote it’

Please note, registration is required to view the article.

WestKing is home to some of the best theatrical stage and production facilities in London. Our tutors have experience in all aspects of performance and will harness your talent by developing your vocal, improvisation and collaborative skills, as well as giving you the resilience and confidence needed to work in this highly competitive industry.

Our acting alumni includes Babatunde Aléshé, Jamali Maddix, Tobi King Bakare, Francis Lovehall, Romario Simpson, Amy Revelle, Shaday Barrowes and Babiyre Bukilwa.

Apply now for a Performing Arts course here.

Aspiring actors from Westminster Kingsway College took to the stage when they starred in Shakespeare’s romantic comedy Twelfth Night.

Two casts of Performing Arts students performed abridged and pantomime versions of the Bard’s work at the college’s theatre at its King’s Cross Centre from 7-8 December.

Twelfth Night tells the story of twins, Viola and Sebastian, who are separated after a shipwreck. Viola, disguised as a page boy, falls in love with Duke Orsino. However, Duke Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia who in turn, falls for Viola thinking she is a man.

Zaris-Angel Hator, 17, who played Viola, said: “I’d never read the play before, so I’ve had to explore it and understand Shakespeare and the language. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been really fun to do.

“Viola’s quite reserved and wants to do the right thing but has a crush on her master who is in love with Countess Olivia. We’ve all had crushes and trying to get them to fancy you when they like somebody else. I’ve been through that and I used it to develop her character. I also worked with my teacher on my voice to get make myself less feminine. It was quite challenging because the audience needs to know it’s still Viola but she’s also playing someone else.”

Shakira Yearwood-Hines, 18, who played Duke Orsino, said: “Orsino is in love with Countess Olivia and really wears his heart on his sleeve. I tried to be really manly and pick up on the little things he does. I actually enjoyed playing a man, I’m a bit of a tomboy and the females in Shakespeare are just too dainty.

“I loved doing the play. It meant stepping out of my comfort zone. I mainly sing and dance, and acting isn’t something I would never normally have tried. It was difficult at first, but my teacher has helped me come along way and given me more confidence.”

“I love the creative process of starting with nothing and building your character, and each time you add something you reveal more about them. I love that you can change an audience’s perspective or way of thinking, or if they are having a hard day you can make them smile.”

The play was directed by Performing Arts lecturer Rob Alexander who will be leaving WestKing this academic year after nearly two decades at the college.

His former students include actors Jumayn Hunter, Tobi King Bakare, Francis Lovehall, Romario Simpson, Babyre Bukilwa and comedians Babatúndé Aléshé and Jamali Maddix.

Rob said: “This was the first full production the students have put on in two years because of the pandemic. They all worked incredibly hard on what were quite complex scripts and deserved all the plaudits they received.

“I’ve had a fantastic 19 years at WestKing. We’ve worked with professional companies, put on some fantastic productions and taught some very talented students. I’m not aware any other FE college has the same number of alumni we have working as actors or in music or comedy.

“To quote Twelfth Night, ‘Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.’ I hope in some small way I have helped each of my students be the greatest they can be.

“I will miss WestKing enormously, but as they say the show must go on.” Apply now for Performing Arts courses.

Apply now for Performing Arts courses.

With no lights and no camera, can there be action? Without a stage to perform on and an audience to receive it, can live performance exist? This is the dilemma facing the performing arts industry across the globe during the Coronavirus pandemic. At WestKing, lecturers are tackling this challenge head on by finding new and experimental ways to allow students to hone their craft whilst in lockdown.

The end of year performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream turned in to a nightmare for Year 2 Performing Arts students when the Coronavirus hit the UK. The perfect location at the Story Garden in central London had been found, and since early January hours of rehearsals had been put in. But with theatres and stages across the UK sitting in the dark, and end of year exams cancelled, it all seemed futile.

Positive that there will be light after lockdown, lecturer Rob Alexander regrouped and found a revolutionary way to allow students to perform. Through the camera lens on laptops and tablets, students are now performing a socially-distanced version of the Shakespeare play from their homes via Zoom. Each day an act is practiced, performed and recorded with the entire play being completed within a week. Once restrictions are lifted, the recorded performances will be edited together by our technicians at WestKing’s Creative Arts Studio to produce one seamless performance.

Student Gabriela Madalina said: “Of course, watching your plans fall away is not a pleasant way to finish college. However, as I thought more about it, there’s nothing new here that an actor shouldn’t be ready for and maybe this is the final challenge college will bring upon us. The online meetings turned out to be the perfect solution and allowed us to continue with the performance. Radio theatre has been around for a long time but somehow it is overshadowed by all the performances meant to impress the eye. Now we get to impress the ear. Sure, it’s not what we were preparing for, but that’s what actors do: we improvise.”

Rob Alexander said: “Like playing an instrument, acting is a skill which has to be practised, and exams being cancelled was no reason to become complacent. In fact, it drove our students to dig deeper and much like a radio performance, learn to perform in isolation. They have had to adapt quickly, for example, getting their timing right and waiting for different cues so there isn’t a lag. This is an experience that they would not have had without the lockdown.”

Our Year 1 students have been working hard too. In conjunction with film and theatre company Broken Hearted Youth, they were set the challenge of writing and performing a monologue which could be unrelated to the lockdown but has the underlying theme of isolation. Artistic Director at Broken Hearted Youth , Michael van der Put said: “For a number of years we have had a rewarding collaboration with Westminster Kingsway College. We were in the early stages of planning a theatrical production around the theme of mental health when the lockdown arrived.

“Luckily for us, being a film and theatre company affords us some flexibility in our approach. In planning what comes next, we’re able to look to Rob and the team to see the adaptations they make in teaching and evaluating their students. This in turn informs our approach to the creation of future work. It’s early days in this period of change, but we know the passion and enthusiasm from both Rob and his students will weather the storm.”

Students have come up trumps with a rich tapestry of stories and will perform and record the final piece from their homes. One student, Nami Olivia, centred her monologue on the faults in the American justice system and racism in the 1920’s – 1950’s. She said: “It is focused on a woman called Aubrey Browne who grew up in downtown Detroit and moved to New Orleans where she got caught up in a murder investigation. Despite the fact she was 17 years old and the evidence was in her favour, she was tried as an adult, found guilty and spent 25 years in jail. The monologue is set the day before she’s due to die by lethal injection and she’s reflecting back on her life.”

Another Year 1 student Alexandra-Stefania Chiran said: “I really enjoyed working on this project I think that it’s really exciting that we get to write our own script from scratch. I’ve been working on a monologue about a girl that is isolating herself from all of her friends and family and everyone is starting to get worried about her. They try and get her to talk to someone about how she feels.”

With Patrick Stewart reading a Shakespeare Sonnet a day on Twitter and the Royal Shakespeare Company enlisting help from the likes of David Tennant with homework, performing artists are very much fighting back. The adaptability at WestKing is the perfect illustration that even though we are locked down, things are very much looking up.

Although the regions also have thriving theatre scenes, London is still the UK’s performing arts hub, as it’s home to West End theatres, TV studios and more. Learn with us and your career options after college include TV and film, radio and theatre in areas such as acting, dance, direction and choreography. Please click here to find out more about studying Performing Arts at Westminster Kingsway College.

King's Cross Centre
211 Grays Inn Road
London, WC1X 8RA
Map & Information
Victoria Centre
Vincent Square
London, SW1P 2PD
Map & Information
Soho Centre
Peter Street
London, W1F 0HS
Map & Information
Alexandra Centre
Ainsworth Way
London, NW8 0SR
Map & Information
Regent's Park Centre
Longford Street
London, NW1 3HB
Map & Information
Out Of Hours

 Part of Capital City College Group
Part of Capital City College Group