There’s no place like Kyneton

The fictional land of Oz took new shape in a unique modern-day retelling for Kyneton Secondary College’s latest stage production, with a notable Australian actor and teacher at the helm.
Directing this year’s year nine and 10 production was Kenneth Radley who imparted his knowledge and stagecraft to students from many successful years in film and television.
“I think they are starting to pick up that I have a language that relates to the theatre,” he says of his students, who may not be fully aware of the extent of his acting career.
Fans of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise will recognise Kenneth as the notorious Pig Kelly from Dead Men Tell No Tales, in which he acted alongside Johnny Depp.
He says the experience has been the highlight of his career, which has been filled with various film and television roles such as those in Rabbit Proof Fence and The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
He played B1 in the popular ABC children’s series Bananas in Pyjamas for 10 years before it became animated.
Other projects have included great Aussie television mini-series including Stingers, Blue Heelers and Underbelly: Squizzy, in which he was “usually playing misunderstood characters”, he says.
“Bad guys often don’t think they’re the bad guys. They have become the way they have because of what life has thrown up at them. They do what they do in order to survive and it may not be acceptable by everyone else’s estimations but they have no other way they can go at that time.
“I refuse to judge the characters that I play. They are humans doing the best they can, but sometimes in the cruellest and most evil way, it is still the best they can do at that time.
“If you want to be an actor you need to go to those places and claim all those parts of being human.”
It is this insight to character development that Kenneth has been able to offer to students when coaching them in various roles.
“It’s our job to tell that story in the best way that we can to honour that playwright’s work,” he says.
“We’re here as craftspeople to share the work of the writer. It’s a responsibility.
“When I am teaching it compels me to reflect on what is important in the work. Teaching acting refines the craft for me.
“As you get older it’s important to pass things on if you can. I’ve had some wonderful mentors and teachers in my life and I think it’s a responsibility, a pleasure and an honour to teach.”
Kenneth has been teaching acting for many years across Melbourne and continues to teach drama at the prestigious Jason Coleman Ministry of Dance. He completed a Masters in teaching at Monash University.
January marked his first entry into the state education system, at Kyneton, where he not only teaches production but also media and humanities.
“It’s been really rewarding in lots of ways that I didn’t expect. The staff are enormously supportive and the kids are highly energised and fabulous,” he says.
Living in Campbells Creek, Kenneth has a love for the region and is delighted to work with local students.
School principal Ana Rees says she was “blown away” by the recent performance of Oz and impressed by the talent displayed. She warmly welcomed Kenneth to the faculty.
“It was really fortunate that the stars aligned in such a way that we became aware of Kenneth,” she says.
“I was blown about by the student performance right through from lights and production through to performance on stage. The students have learned a lot in a very short time.”

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