Portrait of Will Wollen

Will Wollen

Senior Lecturer
TEF Coordinator and Employability/Placements Officer

About

Will is the Faculty Director of Public Engagement (Faculty of Humanities), the Academic Lead for Employability (School of Arts), and Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre (Acting).

Will has twenty years’ experience in the UK theatre industry, working as an actor, director, teacher, writer and a busy arts consultant.

As an actor he has worked on all scales of professional theatre, from the West End and the National Theatre to small-scale rural touring and work with Cherub Company London.  He also worked with Jim Henson's Creature Shop as various Vogons in the 2005 film release of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and his creature work on gorillas features in the 2016 release of The Legend of Tarzan.

He worked as Assistant Director of Outreach and Touring at The Watermill Theatre between 2004 and 2007 and was Artistic Director of Theatre Royal Margate from 2007 to 2012, where he created an exciting menu of contemporary theatre, led a dynamic and innovative outreach and youth theatre programme and commissioned and produced new works. He has also directed for, among others, The Watermill Theatre, Croydon Warehouse Theatre and CreACTive, Milan. As a director he has focussed on new writing and Shakespeare, and is strongly influenced by his background working in Commedia dell'Arte.

While at Theatre Royal Margate, Will created a mentoring scheme for new touring theatre companies and is proud to have been one of the founders of house, a powerful initiative to support venues by improving the range, quality and scale of theatre presented across South East and Eastern England, and building the audience for contemporary theatre across the region. See more at http://housetheatre.org.uk .  More recently he has acted as Creative Producer on Aftershakes – The Shakespeare Sequels, a new piece of touring theatre by multi-award-winning writer Geraldine McCaughrean.

He is Education Consultant for Edward Hall's renowned Propeller Theatre Company and was invited by the British Council to deliver a university lecture tour for Propeller in Guangdong Province, China, in 2005.

Will has always combined teaching with his professional practice. Before joining UKC he taught Acting, Mask, Impro, Laban, Commedia and Professional Practice as a Visiting Tutor at leading vocational drama schools, including GSA, RADA and Arts Ed London. He has led practical workshops and masterclasses across the UK, including at Shakespeare's Globe.

Will gained his BA in French & Philosophy at the University of Leeds before training as an actor at Arts Ed London under Adrian James, Cathérine Clouzot, Stephen Hutton and Andrew Visnevski, and co-founded Daddy Theatre with Gabrielle Moleta in 1999.

His particular interests include: acting pedagogy; psychophysical approaches to acting; arts funding policy; Commedia and mask; Shakespeare; directing.

Directing credits include:
The Fourth Fold, Shakespeare Shorts, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, The Roof Project, The Odyssey, Donkey Hoo-ha!, Call to the Sky (Watermill Theatre); Starter for 10, Sleeping Beauty, Smoke and Mirrors, Ali Baba, The Ethanol Project, Henry V, The Snow Queen, Pinocchio, Hansel and Gretel, Smoke and Mirrors (Theatre Royal Margate); Pioneers (SeeThrew Music);Poco Loco (Scandalmongers); The Witch’s Spring, Christmas Lullaby (CreACTive); Permanent Daylight (Croydon Warehouse); Every Afternoon (Daddy Theatre); Peter Pan in Scarlet (First Staged Reading at Kensington Palace).

Acting credits include:
The Legend of Tarzan (Warner Bros.); Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Jim Henson/Disney); The Impossible Club, Roof Project (Watermill Theatre); The Little Prince (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds); Brundibar, Kafka’s The Trial, The Life of Edward II of England (Cherub Company London); The Hobbit (West End and no. 1 Tour); Fred and Madge (National Theatre); Henry V (Outdoor Shakespeare); Silks, Spices and Spirits (Forest Forge); Smoke and Mirrors (Theatre Royal Margate).  Various short film and commercials including the award-winning Come Together for Aids Alliance (Toast TV).

Scripts include:
The Odyssey¡Donkey Hoo-ha!Choking on BreadOi! Are you Reading At Me?  The first three were all written for youth/community casts and professionally produced at The Watermill Theatre. The Odyssey was also professionally produced at Theatre Royal Margate and has been adapted for use in amateur school productions. Oi! Are You Reading At Me? was commissioned as an open-air piece for the Newbury Fringe Festival and was produced by The Watermill Theatre with a professional cast.

Teaching

I lead the Acting modules in the School of Arts and I am committed to practical teaching that allows students to develop as creative theatre-makers, and understand key concepts through actually doing the work. I teach on many of the practical modules in the Drama Department, and my teaching is backed up by nearly twenty years' practical experience in the UK industry as a working actor and theatre director. As an Artistic Director of a regional theatre I have also been involved in programming and supporting the creation of new touring theatre in the UK, so while one eye is on my interests in the history and practice of actor-training, the other is keenly focussed on the contemporary industry in which our students are going to work. 

As well as MA supervision and teaching on DR592 New Directions, DR612 Shakespeare's Theatre and DR678 Creative Project, Will convenes the following modules:

Undergraduate:

  • DR340 Introduction to Mask
  • DR549 Acting
  • DR659 Acting Shakespeare
  • ART501 Arts Internship 
  • FI629 Working with Actors (Film Module)

Publications

Conference or workshop item

  • Wollen, W. (2017). Planes and Quests. In: Thinking Movement, Moving Thought.
    A pedagogical approach, this workshop explores scenes and monologues using the Inner Attitudes and Quests through use of the related Planes.
  • Wollen, W. (2016). Hard rigour, soft assessment, putting the student first: What can Universities learn from Conservatoires?. In: Labanarium.
    This project/paper/provocation examines the different approaches of universities and conservatoires in teaching and training, and suggests that regularly giving students marks hampers rather than improves their learning. A growing sense of the learner-as-consumer is coinciding with year-on-year grade inflation, and students' need to succeed is eclipsing their right to fail as part of their learning process.
  • Wollen, W. (2016). Action and the Mask: Mr S and the paper bag. In: The S Word.
    Workshop Title: Action and the Mask – Mr S and the paper bag
    Using ‘Stanislavski’ to search for truth in physical theatre. Using Mask to teach ‘Stanislavski’.
    Exploring a simple scenario, actors will explore a method of discovering narrative clarity in a non-naturalistic form.
    This ‘class’ is based on tools developed in the rehearsal room as part of the devising process and in the teaching room.
    Participants should be prepared to do some silly things.

Performance

  • Padwick, S. (2019). Voice over Performance in Talk To Me. [Audio]. Available at: http://www.steuartpadwick.co.uk/talktome/.
    Two 5.5m sculptures as part of designjunction in support of the charity Time to Change to encourage Londoners to talk about mental health Londoners were joined by two giant figures, situated in King’s Boulevard, King’s Cross, reminding passers-by that through communication the weight so many of us carry can be reduced. As visitors approached the breathing wooden sculptures, a sensor was triggered, and the figures voiced poignant and uplifting words. These conversations started to crack the ‘burden’ to release a glowing light. The series progressed from a standing figure, carrying the burden on its shoulders, to a figure resting against its burden, highlighting that while the burden may not be overtly visible it is often not far away.These words were written and recorded by notable poets, writers, actors and mental health ambassadors. Talk to Me, is a hopeful piece, designed in Douglas Fir to convey a warmth and humanity in stark contrast to the strict cuboid shapes and ‘concrete’ blocks.
  • Wollen, W. (2016). Played the Role of Kerchak in The Legend of Tarzan (Warner Bros.2016 Dir. David Yates). [Worldwide cinema release]. Warner Brothers.
  • Wollen, W. (2005). Role of Vogon Soldiers in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Disney 2005 Dir. Garth Jennings). [Film].

Review

  • Wollen, W. (2019). A Peopled Labyrinth: the histrionic sense: an analysis of the actor’s craft. Stanislavski Studies [Online] 7:261-263. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/20567790.2019.1644745.
  • Wollen, W. (2019). Book Review: Acting & Being: explorations in embodied performance by Elizabeth Hess. Journal of Stanislavski Studies [Online] 7:135-136. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1080/20567790.2019.1644745.
  • Wollen, W. (2017). Book Review: Becoming an Actor-Creator by Nikolai Demidov Malaev-Babel, A. and Laskina, M. eds. Stanislavski Studies [Online] 5:133-134. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20567790.2017.1296223.
  • Wollen, W. (2016). The active text: unlocking plays through physical theatre. Stanislavski Studies [Online] 4:83-84. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/20567790.2016.1155370.
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