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Daniel O'Keefe

There's a young man who's worked with us for a long time.  His name is Daniel O'Keefe. 

I first met him while running a project for Almeida Projects in 2008 - the year I directed my first show with Islington Youth Theatre.  His college teacher nominated him as a member of IYT and he helped make our first ever show a huge success.

Four years later and Dan's still with us.  In his time he has performed (including, wonderfully, in Adam Barnard's Fifteen, Turning and Drowning), assistant directed, operated sound, built computers for the office, written plays, helped with admin and fundraising, mentored other young people, run workshops, devised new shows.  He's represented us at number ten Downing Street while meeting the Prime Minister.  He is one of our longest serving members, and one of our most loyal.

He is also a wonderfully talented young actor.  A rare type of young actor who often has no idea how good he is: sharp witted, creative, instinctive and modest.  He comes from an honest, happy working class Irish background in which theatre isn't really present: he only got into it because a teacher spotted his talent in secondary school.

It is people like Daniel who are most vulnerable to the moment in life where you have to take a huge brave plunge - to drama school, to university, into the industry.  And the jump nearly broke Dan's resolve a few years back when he auditioned, unprepared and inexperienced for Mountview.  He forgot his lines, in front of scores of other auditionees.  He tried to improvise out of it, in Shakespearean verse.  It didn't work and he didn't get through.

That was his last drama school audition.  Until April, when, after years of gentle persuasion, he applied for RADA.  We worked on his speeches and set a target: leave feeling happy with yourself.

He went.  He remembered his lines.  He made the auditioners smile.  He left feeling happy.

And he got through to the next round.  He sang in an entirely unexpected, bluesy voice that we didn't really know he had.

And then the next round.

And through to the fourth.  The final round.  A whole day with the RADA team.

He left convinced that he wasn't going to get in.  And I knew he was disappointed - his previous antipathy towards drama schools dissolved and another year without plans ahead of him.

And of course, yesterday, he got the call from Edward Kemp offering him the place.  His first words were 'no way', the next 'I accept'.

We've had other young people make it through to drama school in the past - but none quite like this.  We helped him along the way, but he did it through his own hard work and dedication, overcoming huge self doubt to make it to where he has always meant to be.  I am super proud.




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Reader Comments (4)

Very moving and inspiring. Good Luck Daniel!

June 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Absolutely amazing!! It was a long time ago that I worked alongside you guys at IYT and I remember Daniel as a someone who always caught my eye... Such good news and I wish him, you and IYT much more success!!!

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeniz

Well done Daniel and well done too all the people who have kept faith in you. Enjoy RADA and as Ned says- come out feeling happy with yurself.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMoya Grove

woo well done Daniel!! I knew you had it in you when I saw you perform in WIP sessions, good luck.

June 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEliza

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